Communities of Practice Online (CoPo)

Communities of Practice Online (CoPo)

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Best Practices in E-Learning Online Conference (University of Calgary)

I enjoyed the format of this online conference. Delegates had the ability to 'sample' each of the presentations. Delegates also had access to all discussion forums.

I found the following presentation particularly useful to the topic of CoPos.

'Community Building and Octive' by Karen Riedel and Margaret Halliday from e-Learning (23 August 2004)

Karen and Margaret discussed online collaboration tools in a virtual environment (OCTIVE).
The following is a list they compiled of the different types of tools available today:

- two way radio
- instructional television (ITV)
- video conferencing (VC)
- email
- chat
- computer conferencing
- desktop videa-conferencing
- msn messaging
- microsoft office suite
- moos
- muds
- breeze live
- blog
Halliday and Riedel praised the use of blogs as a tool that is becoming more and more popular.
'Blogs are an excellent way to track emerging trends and Blogs also introduce students to many different reliable resources that they can use at their jobs or while attending courses'.
They also discussed the importance of choosing the appropriate tool for a discussion. They listed the following as questions to be considered as part of an implementation plan. This would also apply to anyone interested in setting up a CoP.
1. Access - How accessible is a particular technology for learners? How flexible is it for a particular group?
2. Cost - What is the cost structure of each technology? What is the unit cost per learner/participant?
3. Teaching and Learning - What kinds of learning are needed?
4. Interactivity and user friendliness - what kind of interaction does the technology enable. Is it easy to use?
5. Organizational issues - What are the organizational requirements and barriers to be removed? What changes in the organization need to be made?
6. Novelty - How new is this technology?
They also sress the importance of keeping it simple and user-friendly and that training must be a priority. 'Too often lack of training and the low level of familarity with the online collaborative tools amongst students and faculty casue high frustration level with the tools in the platform and this in turn translates into frustration with the proram as well.'

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