A proposed process for small group, synchronous dialogue in a MOOC environment – #edcmooc

So I’m thinking about ways in which small group dialogue might happen within the context of MOOCs like the e-Learning and Digital Cultures class.  The trick would be to create a process that would be easily replicable, not require centralized management, and could accommodate use by a diversity of learners found within MOOCs.  It would seem that this process is best be implemented after folks have settled into the MOOC and have had some time to start interacting with others.

I am wondering if a format developed by Peter Taylor in the Critical and Creative Thinking Program at UMass Boston and published in the book Taking Yourself Seriously might work.  It is a 5-phase dialogue format for synchronous groups with minimal facilitation via VOIP (e.g. Skype), video chat (e.g. Goolge Hangout) or face-2-face.  Accommodations would need to be made for those with hearing barriers.

Dialogue hours are usually limited to 1 hour, but can be shorter or longer.  A limit of 10 persons is ideal so everyone has a chance to participate and technical snafus are minimized.  For Internet-based dialogue hours, each participant should have adequate bandwidth to engage in the dialogue.  With that said, services like Skype and Google Hangout still experience traffic problems and technical difficulties.

So here is the proposed process:

  1. Create a sign-up registration form using the form feature in Google Docs (or any other online form generator)
  2. Invite people to join the dialogue and send them the link to the registration form.
  3. Set a day and time for the dialogue hour.  The organizer could just set a time and date when putting out the invite or could work to find an agreeable time using a tool like Doodle.
  4. Send a confirmation email to participants and share the 5-phase format link with them along with the time, date and technical requirements.
  5.  Send a reminder to folks 12 to 24 hours before the dialogue hour.
  6. Start the dialogue hour making sure to leave enough time to allow folks to understand the process — determine whether or not you are going to record the dialogue to share with others outside the group, the default is to not record.
  7. Follow the 5 phase dialogue format (use the link to read about this in greater detail) — for Internet-based dialogue hours it helps to have a facilitator who basically keeps track of the time and moving folks through each phase and a person to monitor turn taking.
  8. Use a form to gather collective thoughts to share back out to group — determine whether or not you want to share with others outside the group, the default is to not share.

I think this process could also work in a more self organizing way, but I need some time to think on it and would welcome input on how that might get structured.

So would this work?   What is unclear?  Is it worth experimenting with?  What are the potential stumbling blocks?

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