Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Facilitator,Moderator and Teacher Role

I work as a facilitator in blended delivery(online and classroom) course and we too face the challenge of making our roles as a facilitator understood as mentioned in the post To Facilitate or to Teach by Leigh.
Facilitating online groups is different to facilitating face to face in self-paced classroom as students learn by sharing with one another and support from facilitator. In the face-to-face setting the facilitator gets chance to clear lot of misunderstandings and understandings , than in a online setting, where it could take days to straighten out.
At this point creating a teaching-learning environment becomes necessary. Its not easy to achieve it and takes time, as students start participating in online discussion forums and get in the e-rhythm. Compared to this, students have the added advantage in face-to-face teaching. Can we say "skillful facilitation is skillful teaching".
Facilitator role is to increase student participation and motivate them by raising curiousity of the course. A good facilitator would offer skills that lead to students learning. As someone in response to Leigh's post talked about Success of online-learning is because you are encouraging and stretching their learning. Facilitator as compared to a moderator catches up with students on their progress and provides student support. I was going slow with blogging , but thanks to Sarah's wake up calls I am on to it. Yes, I agree with Leigh about assuming the role of a teacher, but difficult to adopt and maintain the role of a facilitator, whether its face-to-face or in a online environment.
The facilitators role involves circumstances that enable students to engage with the learning opportunities and construct for themselves their understandings and skills.[1]
A teacher is someone who too enables, helps student learn, by giving them tools and detail explanation (unlike a facilitator). A teacher transfers his/her knowledge,experience with learners. A teacher is a guide,mentor who establishes relationship and understanding to help the student achieve its goals.
A teacher explains how problems are solved and also explains lessons to the students. Students taught in a inspiring way, enjoy learning and are more motivated to succeed. Teacher will undermine the role of a facilitator, when teacher is not able to provide students with opportunities to learn by exploring themselves.
Moderators are users (or employees) of the forum who are granted access to the posts and threads of all members for the purpose of moderating discussion (similar to arbitration) and also keeping the forum clean (neutralising spam and spambots etc). [2]
A Facilitator can also act like a moderator.
In Gilly Salmons Five stage model for e-moderating , each stage requires different levels of interaction,and would require different type of support from moderator (if he/she is also the facilitator). Moderator moderates all activities by facilitators and students. There will be times when students may get side-tracked, moderator may advice facilitator/students about things expected in the forum. Moderator role is also to ensure activities in the forum are engaging and solutions are appropritate to their queries.
Recent studies have shown that the role of the online instructor should not be limited to that of a facilitator. The online instructor also creates a "teaching presence" through appropriate organization of course materials as well as facilitative discourse to guide students toward critical exploration of the content [3].

[3] Anderson, Terry, Liam Rourke, D. Randy Garrison, and Walter Archer (2001). "Assessing Teaching Presence in a Computer Conferencing Context." JALN Volume 5, Issue 2-September.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

This,that & other of Online Community

As promised..continuation of online community,Part II
better late than never
This, That and the Other, by Mark Pesce
The videos and the article analyses the impact of hyper connectivity, where crowds turned communities or vice-versa connect to share, or to benefit from being connected to the world wide web.
When i finished school, it wasn’t very common to have a phone connnection, let alone email ids. However with help of social networking sites like batchmates and facebook i managed to get in touch with my school friends who are all over the world. Gosh so much changed over the past 15 years.
One of my mates who i haven’t met for 15 years had a baby girl and he shared the photos to all through facebook wall. It was instant, i feel like i have actually seen the baby, i will eventually see progress of baby through facebook And if/when we meet up it won’t be odd and not many surprised faces, just friendly exciting gestures. It all depends on how we keep going.
That’s the power of connectivity. But it is still us the users who can step forward using/sharing information. Its upto us how we want to further use or share information learnt.
Just like in my case, i may not have wanted to get in touch with my old friends, or may not want to acknowledge someone.
Mark takes us through a roller coaster ride of thousand pictures in this.It was intense, fast and mind boggling in the first instance ,re-reading points clearer.
In this Mark mentions the law of Dunbar’s number, which defines threshold between community and crowd. How many connections can we manage? One of my friend has 530 connections in facebook, i got curious (i haven’t reached 100 yet). I asked her “How she managed to be connected to so many, or does she” guess the answer.
That gives a insight on managing hyper-networked relationships. Crowd sourced knowledge can be shared within a community.
In the other I could relate to the aspect of taking initiative. We have lots of ideas which we keep to ourselves, sometimes share and then go further or do nothing about it. Just like in Marks case, where people expected from his carrier service. Stepping up....next step, or be clear of your intentions. If someone’s creates a community forum i will participate but not going to be a leader. Or take it as an opportunity to learn and lead, maybe you are born with it: p
It’s the same with online communities; users need to be engaged, shown solutions to problems for relationships to be built. Trust can be imbibed and progress made. That would make online community a healthy online community.
Online Communities:- Groups of people communicate online asynchronously and share a sense of belonging among one another. A classic example would be Wikipedia where people share, moderate and learn collaboratively.

Having pondered on points from this, that and other, question arises:
"Does technology have all the answers"