My work as coach/mentor for the Networks facilitators of 2007 begins next month. Preparations for this began earlier in the year as I planned my approach to online mentoring in earnest. The summer months gave me plenty of opportunity to dream and design, some of my favourite pastimes, my support for varied groups of e-learning practitioners in Victoria and other parts of Australia.
More recently I have prepared a Networkers Nexus as a shared collaborative online space for the Networks facilitators in the EdNA groups and given it the official Networks ‘skin’. The Nexus is a private group just for the facilitators but if you want to see what else I do and get a glimpse of the new Networks ‘look and feel’ please join me in Coach Carole’s Space.
There are five major stages in developing a network (see diagram below) and sets of strategies that network facilitators can employ at each level. Networking is an activity that we as educationalists like to do frequently; it enables us to share ideas and collaborate on projects effectively. Setting up and maintaining a Network is another skill entirely and one that requires, committment, communication, collaboration, connectedness and cooperation. It is these five C’s that categorise the strategies for success in Network development. The type of actions that are required in each stage of Network development are illustrated below.
Web 2.0 tools that are useful for networking include: blogs, wikis, eportfolios, collaborative spaces (e.g. Moodle, Joomla etc) and virtual classrooms. The art of networking is knowing when and how to use which tool for which purpose – enablers for the five C’s.