While I have yet to actively fascilitate an online course with Elements, I was very encouraged by Vanessa Jones' use of a word cloud to introduce her participants to each other at the beginning of her course. It was positive, non threatening and enlightening. By all accounts it looked like a great ice-breaker that set up a sense of community for the remainder of the communication during the course. I encourage all to check it out by asking Vanessa about it. I will certainly be 'stealing' the idea.
I am currently working on the eMINTS/eLearningMO facilitated version of the Collaboration course, so the Virtual Summit was a perfect topic for me. We will offer the course beginning with the summer session. I think it will be very popular with our participants. I hope that some schools will choose to do a school-wide study with the course. Many teachers would really benefit from the support of their school teams as they work to incorporate more collaboration into their teaching practices.
Here are the discussion forum prompts that eMINTS/eLearningmo will use for our facilitated version of the course.
We don't ask the participants to turn in the full Action Plan. Instead, we pull a couple of pieces from the plan to score and include a couple of others in the discussion prompts. For the final project participants will take a learning unit from their curriculum and revise it to include more collaborative activities. I am not yet finished with a rubric for that.
I have shared these strategies with several other trainers but thought this would be a good area as well to share with the entire community of the online Intel Element courses we deliver in WI. All the Intel Elements courses are delivered as 'facilitated" or "blended" courses - meaning we offer one day of face-to-face training and the rest of the content is delivered online. Day 1 we meet face-to-face to build community and where we cover module 1 in the morning and module 2 in the afternoon. We introduce key background knowledge learning points to compliment the course so attendees are on the same page with goals, objectives, expectations, learning take-aways and the new 21st century terminology. Attendees also immerse themselves in the course modules as a self-directed learning opportunity so they become comfortable with accessing the Intel Elements online course, and then tapping back into the module based discussion questions built within the Engage Community or an outside Google wiki. The remaining modules of 3-5 and the wrap-up are done online as self directed learning opportunites, but I do set the stage for learning with flexible or floating timeline to ensure participants stay on task but have flexibility to complete the module in a timely fashion to respond to others.
Here are sample courses and a variety of schedule outlines through the provided wikis:
Issac Elementary: https://sites.google.com/site/issacelementary/home
CESA #9 Assessment Course: https://sites.google.com/site/cesa9assessment/home/timeline
Engage Community PBA and Assessment Groups
There are times though that more "hand-holding is needed, but my first advice as a facilitator is "Ask 3- Before Me." When participants in the course get stuck or run into an online "technology hiccup" I have them ask three others that are active in the course- before me to solve their problem, otherwise participants can inundate you with low level and very time consuming technology questions that were originally addressed in the face-to-face setting. I do go back in and moderate the online questions/discussion through each module as a guide on the side, but do not control any of the conversations unless someone needs some clear guidance. They know I am there and can see when I too am online. It is meant to be their online safe and collaborative learning environment.
Our attendees do complete the Action Plan completely- this is because this is their "IEP" Individual Action Plan for educators to make personal and professional learning progress independently. I and my grant/curriculum evaluator review their completed plans and review the learning takeaways and key connections each educator has made to document progress- they are not shared amongst other educators, because every educator is at a different learning point in their career. We want them to be proud and celebrate their individual progress they have made, but in the online discussions we have educators "kick it up notch" and have educators reflect with at least two other educators to share their learning takeaways on each Module. As one more added level if it is related to a grant activity or extension, I do have teachers craft a new document though to showcase their learning progress between the elements of the Action Plan, the online coursework and new gained learning from the collaborative discussions. As an example- for the the PBA course educators crafted a new lesson to compliment their PBA unit of study, in the Assessment course educators crafted or modified an existing 21st Century skills aligned assessment resource in the course to compliment a unit of study or their PBA unit or lesson( all new creations are shared with all teams members so they have new resources to add to their digital toolboxes), and now for the Collaboration Elements we are looking at designing a new 21st century collaboration learning space (physical environment) to compliment their infusion of their collaboration unit of study, and or creating a global collaboration project with the incorporation of ePals, iEARN, GSN, or Projects by Jen.
Sorry for the information overload- but wanted to share with you what we are doing. It may or may not fit your learning or facilitation style learning needs, but it is working for us in the Midwest and the educators all are seeing some great results with improved lesson plan development, assessment strategies, questioning techniques, and improved communication and collaboration in and outside of the classroom impacting teacher instruction and student learning.
Here is also a simple reflection rubric attached I use for online discussions to keep the discussions on task and meaningful.
Good luck everyone.