It has also expanded to include our entire volunteer effort at Online Learning Lab, not just the mentors. Starting in September we will have an official group for our translators as well as for our local campus students who wish to help with quality control of MOOCs in what we’d like to call the Focusgroup.
So what can you find in the Volunteer handbook? This documentation is for use by our volunteers and details our values and expectations of volunteers as Leiden University, as well as some practical tips on how to handle learner behaviour. The updated version of the compendium for policy makers & instructors to this handbook (An introduction to Community Management in MOOCs) will be released later this year.
As a teaser to the Volunteer handbook here are my top 3 tips for moderation in forums and social media:
Drink a Cup of Tea First – it is the old count to ten trick that your mother told you about. If you are angry or upset about something that learners wrote, don’t write a reply right away. Step away from the screen, put the kettle on and brew yourself a lovely cup of tea. Now, when you return to your screen, sipping your tea, review what you are going to write in reply . The time out will hopefully have put you in a more professional and detached mindset.
What you give attention grows, so don’t feed the trolls – encourage open indepth discussions with a lot of positive attention. Upvote it, approve it, perhaps even reply with a compliment or better yet, ask the instructor to do that. In contrast if you start to react to negativity, that will cause a downward spiral in your community. If you have a real troll in your midst, meaning the causing of deliberate and cynical mischief rather than an honest argument, it is best to not comment, forumban the disrupter and make the post go away. Don’t give the troll the attention it is seeking by defending yourself. It will only make the problem worse.
Give Feedback in a Sandwich - Start your post with something nice to say about the learners remarks and also end with something positive. This is the white bread. The meat of the message is the middle part, where you attempt to be as clear, specific and short as possible. The positive remarks allow a learner to still feel good when reading the message and thus accept the feedback in a more open manner.
More on these and other tips in the Volunteer handbook. You are free to use it in your own institution under CC-BY-NC-SA license. Let me know what you think of it and if you have suggestions for additions in the comment section, or if you wish for more privacy you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Please note this blog’s comment section is moderated ;)