Sunday, August 16, 2009

Teaching, Facilitating and Moderating

To begin with I sought the help of Uncle Webster to help me define these three words.
Teacher: one that teaches; especially : one whose occupation is to instruct
Teaches: to show, instruct
Instruct: 1 : to give knowledge to : teach, train2 : to provide with authoritative information or advice 3 : to give an order or command to : direct

Facilitator: one that facilitates; especially : one that helps to bring about an outcome (as learning, productivity, or communication) by providing indirect or unobtrusive assistance, guidance, or supervision
Facilitates: to make easier : help bring about

Moderator: 1 : one who arbitrates : mediator2 : one who presides over an assembly, meeting, or discussion: as a : the presiding officer of a Presbyterian governing body b : the nonpartisan presiding officer of a town meeting c : the chairman of a discussion group
Arbitrates: 1 archaic : decide, determine2 : to act as arbiter upon3 : to submit or refer for decision to an arbiter
Mediator: 1 : one that mediates; especially : one that mediates between parties at variance2 : a mediating agent in a physical, chemical, or biological process
mediate: acting through an intervening agency : exhibiting indirect causation, connection, or relation

The definition of these word by Uncle Webster seems is very to traditional learning, so I sought the help of Auntie Wikipedia to shade me lights on these words thru the retrospect of innovative learning.

In education, a teacher is a person who educates others. A teacher who educates an individual student may also be described as a personal tutor. The role of teacher is often formal and ongoing, carried out by way of occupation or profession at a school or other place of formal education. In many countries, a person wishing to become a teacher at state-funded schools must first obtain professional qualifications or credentials from a university or college. These professional qualifications may include the study of pedagogy, the science of teaching. Teachers may use a lesson plan to facilitate student learning, providing a course of study which covers a standardized curriculum. A teacher's role may vary between cultures. Teachers teach literacy and numeracy, or some of the other school subjects. Other teachers may provide instruction in craftsmanship or vocational training, the Arts, religion or spirituality, civics, community roles, or life skills. In some countries, formal education can take place through home schooling.
Informal learning may be assisted by a teacher occupying a transient or ongoing role, such as a parent or sibling or within a family, or by anyone with knowledge or skills in the wider community setting.
There are a variety of definitions for facilitator:
"An individual who enables groups and organizations to work more effectively; to collaborate and achieve synergy. She or he is a 'content neutral' party who by not taking sides or expressing or advocating a point of view during the meeting, can advocate for fair, open, and inclusive procedures to accomplish the group's work" - Doyle[1]
"One who contributes structure and process to interactions so groups are able to function effectively and make high-quality decisions. A helper and enabler whose goal is to support others as they achieve exceptional performance" - Bens[2]
"The facilitator's job is to support everyone to do their best thinking. To do this, the facilitator encourages full participation, promotes mutual understanding and cultivates shared responsibility. By supporting everyone to do their best thinking, a facilitator enables group members to search for inclusive solutions and build sustainable agreements" - Kaner[3]
^ Michael Doyle, quoted in Kaner, et al., 2007, p. xiii.
^ Bens, 2000, p. 5.
^ Sam Kaner and colleagues (2007) p. 32.
Forum moderator, a person given special powers to enforce the rules on an Internet forum or newsgroup



The role of the Moderator

The moderator role requires an active presence in the conference. Ideally as moderator you would check / monitor the activity in your conference several times a day.
The role of the moderator is to set the tone of the conference so that it is a place that feels welcoming.
The moderator needs to state clearly what the conference is for, keep the group focussed on this, whilst encouraging the hesitant to participate and keeping a check on the more enthusiastic contributors.
The following are the general roles and responsibilities of a moderator:
· have a clear understanding of what the conference is for and make sure everyone know what the objectives are
· be flexible
· Encourage participation
· talk to, rather than at learners
· acknowledge and welcome everyone, especially lurkers and latecomers
· respond quickly to people's first contributions
· provide and create opportunities for introductions
· reinforce good manners, and make sure you informally encourage good spelling and grammar
· handle poor netiquette privately and as soon as possible
· refer to learners by name
· invite responses from participants to express how they feel about the conference
· pace the conference, and make sure learners are aware of the time plan
· be clear about when conferences end
· Provide swift feedback

Facilitator Roles & Responsibilities
These are the general roles and responsibilities for the session facilitator:
As a session facilitator you are responsible for the process, not necessarily the content. Your overall objective is to accomplish the learning objectives for the session. This is accomplished through the use of the questions and other material contained in the learning plan for the session you are facilitating. Content questions from the community should be reflected back to the community to have them find their own answers. This is consistent with the peer-learning process being utilized. Recognize that facilitation, like any other skill, takes practice. We are all learners in this process. Seek support from others, and offer them support when they serve as group facilitators.
Review the learning plan associated with the session you are to facilitate. Pay particular attention to the learning objectives and organization of the group session. Determine if there are any areas where clarification is required.
Schedule the session when as many community members can be present as possible. Verify that the meeting room has a flipchart with sufficient paper and markers. A PC, projector, and screen may also be needed for some sessions.
Contact all community members prior to the session to verify they understand and are working toward completing the pre-session assignment.
Make sure that all new members or guests are introduced. This would be a good time for everyone to do a round of introductions. This process also needs to be repeated a number of times for new groups, until relationships begin to form.
As part of the opening introductions or as a stand alone icebreaker, pose a Question of the Day. The purpose is to focus everyone's attention while creating a relaxed environment.
Facilitate the session using the learning plan and other necessary material. It is recommended that you read Meeting Management to gain some understanding of this role.
After the session, follow up with all community members to verify they understand and are working toward completing the post-session assignment.
If there is a change of facilitators, assist the next facilitator in making a seamless transition. Offer suggestions that would benefit the next facilitator.

Teachers Roles & Responsibilities
The teacher's role is somewhat more complicated. There are several elements of responsibility that the teacher owes the students. One is in technical areas. The instructor is responsible for all the technical elements of the course design. If a student cannot download a particular graphic that the teacher has designed for a unit topic, then the instructor must be available within a timely manner (usually via email) to assist the student in diagnosing the problem and/or giving proper and specific instructions for the download and viewing. A further responsibility of the teacher is to make sure that the technical elements of the course design are not too advanced for the students' currently available technology. If students are using older computers and 56K modems, then it does the teacher no good at all to design complicated graphics (for example streaming video) that students will not be able to download and/or view. In essence, it is the teacher's responsibility to match the course design technology with the students' technical capabilities.
Another area of responsibility for the teacher is in management of the online class. This involves planning and organization tasks very similar to that of traditional f2f teaching. The course objectives, syllabus, assignments, grading policies, rules and expectations, as well as managing the text-based interaction among the students. This is not so different from the f2f classroom in the type of planning and organization that are required before the course ever begins. Lesson planning in an online class differs significantly however. Planning by the day or week is not good practice in an online class; all planning and organization must be completed and placed in the online format well before the first day of class.
Another area of responsibility in the online classroom is the instructional element of teaching. Experienced teachers use many different strategies to encourage learning through the development of different learning styles in everyday teaching/learning. There are additional strategies and skills involved in teaching online. One of the biggest challenges in making the transition from traditional to online teaching is learning new skills that are necessary for facilitating learning in a text-based environment. Those of us here at have an advantage in that we are skilled in computer-mediated communication through our use of the chatboards, chatrooms, and various meetings and conferences. I would strongly suggest that anyone considering online teaching make use of the wonderful resources here to hone CMC skills in moderating both synchronous and asynchronous learning environments. Having the opportunity to moderate and conduct online meetings here at gave me some valuable skills that I have continued to improve upon with each online class I teach.
The final responsibility that belongs to the online teacher is one that we use in traditional classrooms as well. Online teachers are responsible for the social interactions among students in an online class. Just as we do in a f2f classroom, we need to make the online learning environment friendly and inviting. Online teachers need to encourage interaction, group cohesiveness, and communication among students and between student and teacher. There are so many kinds of interaction in an online class, between student and student, student and group, student and teacher and all of this communication takes place in a text-based medium. This will be new for many students and a teacher skilled in facilitating online communication and interaction is invaluable in the online classroom.

Is there a distict dividing line between Teacher, Facilitator and Moderator.
As I read browse on the different roles of the 3 functions the more I got confused….it seems that the function overlaps with each other…
Let me illustrate it with the following image:

Moderator overlaps with the function of Facilitator as in the case of synergy. Facilitator overlaps with the function of a teacher as both are responsible with the physical attribute
of the Class virtual or not. Teacher overlaps with the function of moderator as to communication both are responsible for the viscous flow of communication all the elements(Teacher, Facilitator,Moderator and learners).
The core of the matter is the Learner . All function or responsibilities is geared to the Learning of an individual.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Online Community


Let me get back to the definition of community .Traditionally a "community" has been defined as a group of interacting people living in a common location. The word is often used to refer to a group that is organized around common values and social cohesion within a shared geographical location, generally in social units larger than a household1.
Since the advent of the Internet, the concept of community no longer has geographical limitations, as people can now virtually gather in an online community and share common interests regardless of physical location or geographical location.
Thus looking at the definition of a online community, virtual community or e-community is a group of people that primarily interact via communication media such as newsletters, telephone, email, internet social network service or instant messages rather than face to face, for social, professional, educational or other purposes2. If the mechanism is a computer network, it is called an online community. Virtual and online communities have also become a supplemental form of communication between people who know each other primarily in real life. Many means are used in social software separately or in combination, including text-based chatrooms and forums that use voice, video text or avatars.

A very good video by Dr. Michael Wesch will further enhance our understanding about Online Community the title of the presentation is “An anthropological introduction to YouTube”.
With regards to the presentation Dr. Michael Wesch from Kansas State University did for the Library of Congress on June 23rd 2008. It's an interesting anthropological analysis on the effect YouTube and social media is having on the way we connect, communicate and recognize ourselves today. To understand more on what his presentation is, I got think back and search for the meaning of anthropology. According to wikipedia “Anthropology” is the study of human beings, everywhere and throughout time.
“An anthropological introduction to YouTube” is where “traditional” academic research and the new media landscape intersect. It is the anthropological perspective and study of our generation’s fascination with YouTube2
He presented a New form of community with the Interesting phenomenon, a video clip of an ‘ordinary’ user is shared and evolves and revolves around the world. It evolves because other viewers remake it remixed it as Dr. Michael terms it - unpack the impact. Revolves because it passes from one user to another and before the original user know it he is suddenly a global phenomenon…by allowing people to communicate all over the world it creates a celebration of new type of community. Thus he suggest that we have to rethink a few things. I am moved by what he said about Anthropology of Youtube integrated media scape. Media is not a content. Media is not a tool of communication. Media mediate human relationship. When media change human then relationship change..thus rethink all of this things including ourselves.
With the question of Why YouTube ? The answer: YouTubes lost of community. You tube as a medium of community don’t have a particular audience which means a context collapse. User don’t know whom they are talking to…New forms is immerging place to place to Person to person.
Yet there is what we call cultural inversion which consist of two major parts:
1. Express: individualism, independence, commercialization
2. Value: community, relationships, authenticity
You tube come on with this.
Anonymity + Physical distance+ rare& ephemeral dialogue= hatred as public performance but it is also equal to freedom to experience humanity without fear or anxiety. You tube offers this possibility.
Media not distance connect us in different ways that can sometimes feels different but sometimes that distance allows us to connect more deeply then ever before and new forms of community create new forms of self-understanding.
1 - Wikipedia 2 - CC BY-NC-SA.

Another interesting talk about online community is from the video Groups and Networks of Stephen Downes 2006.

Stephen Downes tried to identify where online Learning belongs whether to Group or Networks. Most online learner enthusiast classifies it as group but he believes that it is a network. To further explain his points he draws a line between group and Network by characterizing them.

Groups have four major elements and they are as follows:
Closed… boundary between member or non members
Distributive… with leader or starter

While Networks four major elements are:
Based on the principle of diversity
Coordinated by autonomous
Openness contributing is open rather than close...It is bound to connects bridges
Connective- nature of information flow is connective

Thus to tie up his presentation to on-line learning….he regarded online learning as a network which is based in principle of diversity…Learning is done through asynchronous way as opposed to synchronous learning.
As for me to make it simple, online community is a group of people with common interest, unity develop with that interest, through the use of ICT tools.

Pictures form and,,