Thursday, October 30, 2008

e-Learning Course on Green ICT Strategies: Part 4 Online Social Networking Course Coordination

In part three I wrote some learning objectives for a new e-learning course on "Green IT Strategies" for the ACS Computer Professional Education Program (CPE Program). Last night I attended a weekly staff meeting of the coordinators, educational designers, tutors and mentors for ACS Education. This was held using an online text chat forum, which worked well.

About eight people attended the meeting for an hour. You can see the list of who is online, who is currently writing and who arrives and leaves. One person acts as the chair, introducing topics, but due to the asynchronous nature of this form of communication, the short text messages which arrive could well be referring to the previous item.

This system worked well and in many ways is better than a face-to-face meeting or a video/audio conference (such as the Green ICT video conferecne last week). In an audio event only one person can talk at a time and they can hold up proceedings by talking too much. With the text chat, everyone can contribute at once and long contributions can simply be ignored (not that there were any on this occasion).

One useful feature is the ability to include a web address in the text, with these being automatically converted to hypertext links. This is much more useful that the usual practice at a meeting where someone vaguely refers to a document and everyone tries to scribble down the details.

One problem is that the software used does not have a spell checker built in. Normally I spell check everything I write several times before sending. But this was not possible with the real time chat, so every third word I sent was misspelled.

Another issue is that text chat is written and therefore can be archived and may be treated as an official record. In theory an audio or video recording of a meeting may be similar kept, but in practice this is harder to do and harder to search.

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