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.


  1. Great post-thanks for this. Can we as teachers also be facilitators considering that we have a power relationship with students in terms of assessment?

  2. Thanks Sarah.
    On that,Teachers as facilitators can help students take ownership of their learning as well the assessment.Providing guidelines like clarifying what is expected from the assessment could be way to go. Directing them to some exemplars/samples/links of topics related to assignments could be beneficial too.