Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Facilitating, Moderating or Teaching

I see facilitating as helping people to learn. In order to do this initially a facilitator may have to "teach" so the group members or students are familiar with the tools they need to use in order to accomplish the learning.
Moderation to me is ensuring the learning is relevant to the purpose of the group or course (learning is focussed on the topic). A Facilitator needs to moderate the learning if it starts to go off at a tangent. In this course we need to meet certain criteria to pass. The Facilitator (Leigh) must ensure we do meet these criteria and so needs to do some moderating if we are not sticking to the topic.
Teaching is often thought of as giving all the information to students or group members so they just need to absorb it. I think a Facilitator at times "teaches" in a limited way: gives the student enough information to find the answer or solve the problem themselves in their own way & using tools they have chosen.
To sum it up a Facilitator has to be a Moderator & a Teacher at times.

When does the act of teaching compromise the role of a facilitator of an online community?
I think teaching compromises the role of a Facilitator when it takes over from facilitating, when the facilitator directs the group members to do something using a specific method because this is the method the Facilitator uses. Teaching is about opinions. A teacher provides information the way he/she sees it: their point of view, there are no options.


Leigh Blackall said...

Try to keep thinking about facilitation outside your context of education. The facilitation of online communities does not necessarily involve working with a group of people who want to be identified as "learners" and certainly may not have the objective of "learning" something through the help of a facilitator. Some online communities may simply engage a facilitator to help them negotiate something. Other sectors - like the local news paper or city council might engage a professional online facilitator to try and estanblish an online community. ANy sense of a teacher or "learning outcome" may quickly kill that job.

Sarah Stewart said...

In other words, a facilitator makes them happen, or enables people to do things ie makes things/resources available?

vida said...

Hi Leigh, I have thought about these roles in the world outiside education & I have reached the same conclusion: somtimes the Facilitator of a forum needs to moderate to keep the discussion focused.

vida said...

Hi Sarah,
Yes that's the way I see it, but the roles do overlap.