Socializing and Connecting
As I joined late, I had a certain difficulty in finding who the other people from the course were for there was little interaction with them in the first phase. There is an introduction thread in the discussion area of the wiki but this, from what I gather, served mostly for people to connect to Leigh (cannot access it from outside) so he could add participants to the Google group list. Although I could catch up with what was going on through posts to the google groups and read blogs that quickly summed up events and synthetized reactions (threading conversations and summing up what is happening in a distributed and horizontal environment helps a lot)
I missed the interaction or socialization phase (phatic talk) before people starting posting on the message boards and their own blogs.
Last year when moderating Social Media in ELT, we invited Charles Cameron to animate the opening and ending of the session with games. It’s a fun ice-breaker and forces people in a certain way to find out about new participants in other ways than just the common interest of the course. Self-disclosure and conversations, like Jeffrey Keefer experienced (even though it was a one to one Skype conversation), remove the distance, build more trust, develop trust and establish an online identity and help us remember each other in a different way. It also avoids the flood of standard introduction type emails or grouping ( chums only) in separate forums that characterize this phase. It is a difficult task to meet, place the name and connect to new people. This is why I also enjoy other visual clues, like a photograph or avatar I can relate to and tend to be suspicious of people who do not provide details about their context or whereabouts. I feel it is important to establish not only a cognitive presence but also a social one.
I have now aggregated most blogs (please check if I have missed yours) in Gregarius but again find it difficult to follow who is posting what. First, because many people have used the same title for their blogs so it is difficult to distinguish one from the other and second, because the person’s name does not appear together with the posts. (still playing with tool so there may be a plugin or something which can help me do that) . Another way of remembering people’s names would be for them to add to their signatures their blog address in the Google Groups – this would make it easier to relate name to blog and facilitate connections.
Next post probably end of the afternoon – rushing to the dentist.