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Week 5: Online Facilitation

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Introduction> idea: online facilitation

You have the purpose for your project (you do, right? If not, lets talk. SOON!). You have analyzed the social architecture in terms of group type, size, and configuration. You have compared your personal preferences to the needs of the client you are working for. You have explored the technology.

There is one more critical element — the way we actually interact with each other and how we can make the most of that. This implies facilitation. Facilitation can be a formal role taken on by one or more people, or it can be distributed across the people and done informally and in an emergent manner. This week we will look at online facilitation in general, where it is similar and different to offline facilitation, and then explore what facilitation practices might be useful in any of the different contexts you are exploring in your groups.  To “walk the talk” we are going to do an action learning experiment by having our Wednesday session fully online with each group logging in (as a group) to a Google+ Hangout. Technology may be challenging, but the real question is how we work to connect and learn together either because of, or in spite of the technology!

Let’s start with the basics. What do we mean by “facilitation” – online or offline? Read this week’s article by Nancy White, view Shahab’s interview of Nancy, and then join the week’s discussion by responding at the end of this post. This week, we think it is important to have this discussion both at your team level, but also as a group.  So please pay attention to this discussion thread this week.

Discussion # 5:

We’ve offered you a definition of facilitation and some idea about how it varies across different online contexts. So now our job is to see if we can actually observe and critique this online facilitation. Think about right here, right now. What evidence have you seen of the instructors’ facilitation of this course? What evidence do you see in the communities you have been researching?

Teamwork Activity #5:

Looking at the exemplar sites you have identified for your group, what evidence is there of facilitation? What is the role of facilitation in the success of the site’s goals? Who is doing it? What appears to be working well? Analyze from your external perspective. Then try and contact someone from the site and ask them about their perspectives on the site facilitation. (Do this early in the week, ok? It can take a while to get a response!) Create a summary that will be part of your final presentation. Include your conclusions about key facilitation issues. Post your draft at on your team space and tag appropriately.

Personal Blog Reflection Prompt #5:

As you think about the learning you are embarking upon here at the university, reflect on the role that your instructors and fellow students play in facilitating yours and their learning. What are they doing? How is it facilitating learning and teamwork based on what you have experienced so far? What has been useful? What would you like to see and experience that you haven’t yet in the facilitation of this course from yourself, peers and faculty? What can you contribute as a peer facilitator? For your commenting on others’ blogs this week, maybe you notice where another colleague has contributed to your learning through their facilitation and let them know when/where it happened and how it was of value to you. Are you game for that?

Content to Share:

7 comments on “Week 5: Online Facilitation
  1. I like this weeks video, the we over the me and then later going back to the me while still being a part of the network community. I’m trying to find a way to keep on doing this stuff while still having time to tutor all my students in the coming year. I don’t want to stop, but am always distracted when a new module starts (which also turns out to be soooo interesting).
    I loved working in the field for a couple years and would still like to find the balance of being able to do that again. Doing a learning video from your golfcart (or in my case, my beach chair) is so cool. Nancy, you seem to be living the dream – Congrats. I see I need to learn more about getting something marketed… I think I’ll read THEIR blogs to find out more.

  2. Personally for me our instructors are very good facilitators. They actually help me learn things by myself. I like the way they make us do researching by ourselves so we can learn by doing and not only reading from a book. I absolutely enjoy learning by doing because I think that this is the only efficient way to learn how to become a future industrial designer/open innovator.
    One example for our instructors’ facilitating is that when they tell me I have to make a personal blog or somehow make a comment for something I feel that by researching on the topic and actually thinking about it I can easily train myself thinking about a certain problem, asking myself questions, and actually finding a solution about it.

    • YEss I fully agree, I loved that you brought that up about learning by doing. I feel like you are right about what the teachers are doing as well, I think that they are really inspiring us and activating us to go out and do something, lovely feeling.

  3. eastfield72 says:

    The home page started out organized and we received a solid foundation to start our group work. The home page has come in handy many times with all the resources that are available to our groups. It allows us to learn in a different way that has help greatly with our research. The teachers have been available for coaching and helping us move forward with our project. Nancy has been an irreplaceable piece in helping us understand exactly what we are trying to achieve. On the other hand we have run into difficulties throughout our weekly tasks. Miscommunication has been a hindrance to our group’s progress, and work rate. It undermines many of the tasks at hand and causes our group to occasional go off topic.

  4. Nancy White says:

    Thanks for getting the conversation going, y’all. I have noticed that with all of our activity in Facebook, here, the blogs, etc. that sometimes it feels like things are a bit “fractured,” particularly conversations. i wonder what would happen if we focused all of our conversation in one place for one week. What might happen that would not otherwise happen?

  5. We might find everything easier….? We might read it all instead of missing some blog parts? We might save time? (Please?)
    Then, on the other hand, we would lose a bit of the creativity that comes through chaos… I don’t know. But Nancy, you did say “one week” – or was it “This week” concentrating everything in one place. Maybe ya’ll tried it while I was gone… I’ll have to check that too :’)

  6. Nancy White says:

    Laura, I think no action was taken on the suggestion!

    Just FYI I’m on the road for week 7, so please remind the team that I will NOT be on the call Wednesday… unless of course I’m stuck at some airport due to the big storm hitting the US! (I HOPE not!)

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