Saturday, August 14, 2010

A bubbling pot of a life

Until I can de-load my mind and concentrate on this amazing learning I suspect i will continue to just download on this blog. Since I last posted plenty has been happening and not a lot of it planned, so grabbing each thing as it comes past has stifled my desire to give this awesome 'opportunity of a learning'the time I do wish. I remain totally delighted I jumped in when I did, I remain telling colleagues to enroll for next intake, I am so sure it has come along at the most right time in my life, enough of the hyperbole.

What is on-line facilitation?

It is to guide people through an on-line based experience so that they are able to participate in a way appropriate to their style, removing and managing barriers to the experience and assisting them to become -self-managing, as far as possible in that experience. This is a very loose definition, I am trying to encompass the remit I am looking at for my business.

What skills do i need as a good on-line facilitator?

  • First up for me, I must be confident and skilled to use and manage the technology, this includes knowing basic trouble shooting.

  • Then I will have done a complete rethink about the nature of on-line relationships in this forum.
  • I have been lucky enough to have had 3 on-line participant experiences,the range of my personal responses has been between frustration resulting in tears, to dogged determination to not be offended by the facilitator, more difficult than I thought possible.
  • On reflecting these with my colleague Vasi who heads our Flexible Learning section at NorthTec [ something of a legend in my opinion], and as a student of this course I understand just what a different response e-learning and on-line facilitation requires.
  • As an on-line facilitator I would be wise to revisit my professional personal pedagogy and not adapt it for this style, I would be wise to start afresh, as has been affirmed in the many clips at our disposal, from the position of my students, or co-communicators.
  • I will consider what kind of experience I want for them, and what needs they come with. To a greater extent, apart from the experienced on-line community I am pretty sure there is a greater mass of possible/future users to whom this world is really foreign, and that must be my major consideration.
  • So preparedness in all its forms. [including such things as currency of developments in this field, resources, student management techniques]
  • Understand deeply the meaning of coach on the side.
  • Be approachable with a good listening 'ear'.
  • The skill of being enlightened by personal moderation so that I am growing appropriately as the on-line community I am facilitating does.
  • Explore and develop arguments.
  • Ensure that as this community may not have body and para language to build relationships with they do have the emotional response through text and hearing that nurtures positive engagement.
  • I do need to have a sense of humour, however this needs some thought, offence taking [as I know] is all to easy, so perhaps a mentor or supervisor 'listening in' at times would be a good idea.
How does an on-line facilitator build an on-line community or network?
Suggestions are:
  • Making it clear at the outset that an as on-line community/network is how the group will develop, making it clear that by the nature of the group this is the easiest way, ensuring as a membership criteria each participant has the tools for the experience.
  • Having in the facilitator 'tool-box' tools to support and assist those have connection problems. Setting 'pool rules' at the outset and re-saying them at every occasion; new members may join regularly and need to be made aware, in addition for the more settled-in members it is well to remind them of how to operate inclusively.
  • Suggest matching options for members and ways to do this, being able to check in that this opportunity is working.
  • Periodically make available new on-line opportunities or toys; these may be in response to a theme a group is developing, to demonstrate some of the positive impacts of micro-networks.
  • Listening to concerns/ criticisms and responding immediately, as well as providing feedback times.
What are the key things to remember when facilitating a meeting or education course, especially with working with people new to technology.

That fear, overload, frustration and impatience sprinkled with a readiness to give up more easily than in a face to face or immediate physical community are constant companions initially. Indeed this state can be constantly a likely knee-jerk reaction, especially when connectivity is a basic cause.
Perhaps [and I am new to this] spending some behind the scenes time with such people preparing them for participation and giving them an on-line buddy to assist.

Netiqette will be new to all and with an overload of experiencing happening quite possibly a constant concern.
Reminding people how to participate for every live discussion, and reminding everyone of their contribution to the discussion. I particularly like the texting option available, this is because I don't yet know what to say, I am just absorbing, I feel quite shy about my speaking involvement and I am sure others will feel the same.
Having the text or audio available for each recently finished on-line conversation. This is invaluable with its links. It is obvious from the number of people on-line that we all appreciate the service of emails and links, awesome.

What is the difference between teaching and facilitation? I will include here 'moderation' this is the first time I have introduced to moderation being the same as facilitation.

Well, teaching is about providing opportunities for themed learning; however that provision takes place. The 'sage on the stage', is found less and less in the world I presently work in. At NorthTec tutors work hard to stimulate thoughts, activities and reflection on learning. Often tutors place themselves amongst their learners for obvious reasons. Teachers are paid to have an academic responsibility for an outcome, to keep their skill and knowledge constantly current and preparing for new needs in learning, for example Literacy, Language and Numeracy, or the Youth Guarantees Scheme, flexible delivery of learning packages. Tutors may develop more intimate relationships with students they can see and interaction real time with.

Facilitation or moderation has a very different flavour. It is my experience that this learning provides opportunity for independent development given learning can take place sychronistically and asychronistically. Tools and experiences may be taken up, or ignored; they are however provided with almost seamless ease. Facilitators can make much of the learning stages available for the course, to allow for different learning styles and speeds; this differs wildly from teaching where there is still a tendency to provide materials just in time for the lecture, or ad lib. Facilitators can and I have found, do, withdraw from the group to allow for individual development.

What is netiquette?

It is an agreed way to behave in on-line relationships. This appears to have commonality worldwide in keeping with the Internet. To those new to on-line relationships and groups netiquette is critical and needs to be overt, and repeated. It ensures everyone is aware of a courses, organisations network way of working together in a healthy manner. It may be how to use on-line tools, or how to respond in an on-line discussion. It maybe explicit instructions about language.


  1. Jane: I hope you don't mind me making a personal comment, but I am really struggling to read the text on your blog. I wonder if there is anyway you can make the font stand out more?

    What I like about netiquette is it makes you think twice about what you say and do. I think we take things so much for granted F2F that we forget basic good manners. Have you seen any 'bad' behaviour online and how would you deal with it as facilitator?

  2. Ignore that comment about the text...after I waited for a few minutes, it seemed to come right :)