Monday, August 20, 2007

Persona activity for Facilitating eLearning Communities

I have just finished reading through the discussion on Blackboard around creating personas. The individual persona exercise, quite rightly, became a group persona which reverted back to being a suggestion to create two general personas which are representative of the group. David started off the exercise with a persona based on an analysis of the learning styles and some of the information posted in the introductions.

A suggestion was also made by Cheryl is to name the two personas according to the learning styles for each group.
1) Reflective, Global, Intuitive, Visual; 2) Active, Sequential, Sensing, Visual
Person 1 – Virg; Person 2 - Vass

If you collect up all the posts it is very clear to see the personalities of the group emerging. The characteristics of the group who participated have demonstrated they have a range of skills and can do the following:

  • analyse and organise information,
  • facilitate others towards action,
  • mediate,
  • reflect,
  • become impatient with no progress,
  • get confused,
  • suggest solutions.

I am impressed with how far you have come towards developing a persona or two. It is not an easy task. As stated by Yvonne,As facilitators we could use a single persona to help focus learning activities and experiences based on shared characteristics and I can see how this would work in some circumstances but are we finding this tricky because we're the learners and not the facilitators?

I thought there may have been some discussion about what should/shouldn't be included so that everyone would feel 'represented' and we'd end up with a final persona. So I'm wondering why we've found it so difficult to do?

Does anyone have a response to Yvonne's post? I wonder why was this exercise so challenging? Is it worthwhile to do this in your own classes so you get an understanding of who you are facilitating?

Every suggestion has been from a different perspective, but it appears that although confusion has been expressed, some progress has been made. There was also a name suggested for the group persona and some characteristics, such as below:

Name: The Colossal Squid – not sure if this really fits with the new pic I have added.

Age: Average 45

Gender: female

Learning Goals: 1. To gain more familiarity, skills & ideas for teaching online. 2 To discover new ways/methods to deliver effective learning experiences - not necessarily for full online delivery but as an additional teaching/learning tool.

Background Story: Teaching background (10-15 years), (mostly) married (some partnered), 3 kids (ages 8,10,13), Interests include music, the outdoors, family & friends. Fairly computer literate.
A telling quote:??? I get the sense this will come as the background story develops
email address: Gmail? Generic polytech email?
Job Title: 1/2 time lecturing/teaching (with some online component), 1/2 time consulting on e-learning projects
Photo: Attached – provided by David
Learning Style: Visual preference, global slant, huge active preference

There was also a suggestion by Linda to create two personas based on the fact that “some learners are experienced with technology while others are very new to it,” rather than using learning styles.

Individual personas

Three people have asked others to form a group with them and we are still waiting to hear the outcome of those sessions. For example, an Elluminate meeting was organised last Fiday 17 August. If it went ahead, and am interested to see what came out of that exercise.

Learning styles: There was certainly a lot of emphasis on learning styles, and a virtual chocolate fish to David for getting the ball rolling. This was as good a way as any to get a “feel” for the learners and sometimes learning styles may be the first bit of information you get. Of course if you take the time to look at your students’ enrolment forms you will also find out some demographic information.

Think about how you actually get to know who your learners are in the f2f classroom and online?

Because of the difficulties in getting to know students online, lots of lecturers now take the time to do a learning styles exercise at the start of a course.

Luckily nine people also posted some information about themselves in the introductions forum. As you have found out it is an exercise which may be a lot easier to complete over more than one week when you get to know your fellow class mates through interacting with them in discussions and with them on their blogs.

Once everyone has their blogs up and running, and if they add information about themselves on there, it will be easier to confirm the personae. And maybe as leigh suggests it is a dynamic process which will evolve over the length of the course. In any case, the activity though not immediately satisfying or conclusive has certainly stimulated a lot of thought around who you all are as learners…don’t you agree?

So where to now?

I really like Yvonne’s observations about why the exercise has appeared to pose difficulties. Meaning that it took longer than a week and also seemed challenging for people to get an immediate outcome. It certainly started on time, and it is evident that the exercise needs more than a week and this should be stated from the outset. Maybe it is an exercise which should be started later in the course when we have a better grip on who we all are – personality-wise and professionally.

What do people think?


Leigh said...

I like Konrads suggestion to use an image. I dunno about the image you have used. (do you know that woman? is it ok Dave and you use her image. If you don't know her, and she does't know you're using it, then that boarders on ID theft!)
So do you think we could try and find images as prompts for the persona?

David McQuillan said...

Bronwyn in answer to your query
"... What do people think?"
I think that this is an exercise that requires quite a bit of participation, which has not really occurred to any great extent in the discussion board forum. Reasons - other priorities, lack of interest/relevance, ease of access - ??? I'm not really sure

Leigh - Good point. I don't know the woman.

Leigh said...

Bron, you'd better delete her image and replace it with one you know (you maybe).