This is the facilitation plan completed prior to the online discussion using Elluminate. The facilitation and reflection follows in the next post.

Time and Date of facilitation exercise
: Friday 30 Nov,
1 pm (1 hour session)

Reasons for the meeting
The purpose of this meeting is to discuss ways that we can encourage social interactions in online learning courses.
Social interactions refer to the “people” interactions that take place between students and instructors. The most important features of this are social presence (degree of awareness of other people) and collaboration (working together for a purpose), which produces a feeling of connection and being part of a learning community, and leads to a deeper learning experience.

Medium to be used
One hour discussion using the online conferencing tool Elluminate. Elluminate provides real time communication with voice and IM options, as well as a whiteboard and web links. With the ability to use powerpoint presentations, real-time discussion and small group work, Elluminate offers a very useful tool for bioscience teaching and encouraging social interaction. It is hoped that using it in this session may encourage other participants to consider using it in their own teaching if they don’t already.
Participants will be invited to the meeting by e-mail, with instructions for joining the Elluminate session and required equipment (headset with microphone). There will also be a link to the BiosciTeach wiki which has resources and guidelines for the meeting, and a place to summarize the discussion and give facilitator feedback after the meeting.
articipants will be informed that should Elluminate fail (as can happen) there will be a message put up on the wiki page, and the meeting will be rescheduled.

Description of the group
Hope to have 5 – 6 participants, aged 25 – 50 years
Profile of group:

  • Bioscience educators from Otago Polytechnic
  • Teaching experiences range from foundation through to post-graduate students
  • Varying levels of experience with online / flexible teaching
  • Learning styles unknown but aware of providing an environment that takes into account individual preferences, eg resources provided prior to meeting, Elluminate offers opportunity to engage visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning styles, feedback wiki after meeting
  • Some participants know each other very well, while others are relatively unknown
  • Don’t think this group has ever met face-to-face or online together

As this is the first online meeting of this group, there will be an emphasis on encouraging group formation so that participants feel comfortable to engage in discussions and share experiences, information and ideas (stage 3 of Gilly Salmons 5-stage model).

Stage 1:Access and motivation: support to get on to Elluminate, instructions and resources provided, contact for help; motivation to join and participate by providing invitation and resources prior to the meeting
Stage 2: Socialisation: introductions, introduction to the features of Elluminate and an icebreaker activity
Stage 3: Information exchange: discussion of topic

Planned facilitation of the meeting
For this meeting my role as a facilitator is firstly to invite participation using a personal invite stating the purpose for the meeting and a link to the resources (wiki) that will be discussed. As well as an opportunity to meet up with other lecturers teaching bioscience at Otago Polytechnic, hopefully the chosen topic will be of some interest to participants with more courses using online and blended delivery, and will motivate them to join the discussion. During the session I will use activities that encourage socialization and interaction (modeling), with questions and prompts to initiate and maintain discussion, and at the end summarize the main points of discussion.

Welcome: welcome page on whiteboard with image that suggests a meeting (eg chairs arranged in a circle)

Introductions: who we are and who/what we teach; get participants to add names/pictures to image provided; introduce elluminate features and invite participants to explore

Icebreaker: each participant provides a 3-word statement that tells us a bit more about themselves; elaborate further with discussion

Facilitation of discussion will be focused around these questions:

1. Benefits for learners of being in a group? (Video of geese)
Discussion around peer support and encouragement, communication, interaction, sense of community.

2. How are you a “social director” eg what strategies do you use to encourage interactions? Participants share the strategies they use. Discussion around strategies and any difficulties or concerns they have about them. List strategies on the whiteboard as they are discussed.
3. What other interactive activities can we use?
Group activities to show potential use of Elluminate: small group brainstorming activity and discussion activities in break-out rooms (questions and interpretation of image).

Introduce and discuss uses of wiki. Discuss whether Elluminate and wiki might be useful tools for encouraging student interaction in bioscience courses.

Summary: overview the main points from discussion

Closing message:
Thank you to participants. A summary will be posted on the wiki, where they can add further thoughts regarding this discussion. Email me with any feedback on the usefulness of the session and my facilitation.


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