March 28th What is online facilitation?

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Sarah Stewart

Mar 25, 2011, 3:30:16 PM3/25/11
Over the last two weeks we have thought about what and why we want to facilitate, but we haven't really talked about what online facilitation actually is. The definition of facilitation in the Oxford Dictionary is to 'make easy or easier'. As online facilitators, we need to think about how we make communication, learning, task management and use of technology 'easier' for the people we are working with. There are a number of models around that support us as we develop online facilitation skills. Nancy White has suggested we think about ourselves as a 'community technology stewards'. Gilly Salmon has developed a 5 stage model of online moderation and Ed Hootstein refers to wearing four pairs of shoes. To be effective online facilitators, we also need to understand how online communication works. In order to do this, it helps to understand the 'rules' of online communication otherwise known as 'netiquette'. Those of us who are teachers are further challenged to think about our practice, be it in the online or face-to-face environment - what is the difference between facilitating learning and the more traditional views of teaching? In other words, how do we facilitate learning compared to the traditional model of delivering content as the 'expert' to the learner who knows nothing? And how do we do this in the online environment?

Web conferencing
Join the virtual class meeting in Elluminate on Wednesday 30th 13.00 hours New Zealand (World Clock). Greg Walker will be discussing how he facilitates online courses. Greg is an educational technology developer and distance education coordinator at the Leeward Community College, Hawaii, USA. He is also the facilitator of the FO2011 sister course, iFacilitate. This session will be facilitated by course participants.
  • The facilitators will be responsible for liaising with the speaker, managing the meeting room, reminding the course participants about the meeting, facilitating the meeting and sorting out any technical problems.
  • If you are a facilitated or formal student, please feel free to volunteer to facilitate this session if you would like practice with facilitating a live web conference, or would like experience working with Elluminate.
1. Read "CoP Series No 10: Stewarding Technology for Community" by Nancy White, 2009.
2. Read Wearing Four Pairs of Shoes: The Roles of E-Learning Facilitators by Ed Hootstein, 2002.
3. Read the Gilly Salmon's 5 stages of moderation model, 2004. Gilly's work is based in education but the stages that she proposes for online engagement apply across the board. If you would rather watch/hear Gilly talk about her model, please go to her presentation "E-moderation strategies in educational contexts", 2009. NB: The term 'moderation' is interchangeable in our context with 'facilitation'.
4. Read "Netiquette" by Learn the Net, 2010.
5. Write a blog post about what you learned from White, Salmon and Hootstein. You may wish to consider these questions.
  • What is an online community and an online network? What is the difference between the two?
  • What online communities and networks have you been a member of? How did they work? Was there a facilitator? What was his/her role?
  • How would you utilise the Salmon model of facilitation in your own context?
  • What facilitation "shoes" do you wear now? What shoes would you like to wear in the future? What do you need to do to have the skills that Hootstein talks about?

Posted By Sarah Stewart to Facilitating Online 2011 at 3/26/2011 08:05:00 AM

Sarah Stewart
EdD Student and Consultant
Skype: sarah.m.stewart
Twitter: SarahStewart
Second Life: Petal Stransky
+64 27 7379998

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