Moving on the focus of the ‘course’ at this stage, of looking at the role and behaviour that distinguish Facilitator, Moderator and Teacher, and then to describe the skills requirements of each, I browsed through Extra Resources and found Leigh’s To Facilitate or to Teach and was intrigued by the following:
“Either I yield to the tradition of schooled learning and assume the role of teacher, instructor and assessor and forgo the role of facilitator, or I invest a lot more time with these courses and develop my skills as a communicator and become more sophisticated in ways of moving expectations towards a facilitated and individualised learning environment.”
I believe we get caught in such a dilemma when we take Facilitating as an exclusive term. The dilemma is resolved once we go back to its basic definition as: “to make possible or easier” And this is where context plays a very important role, because in the context of ‘facilitating as making it possible or easier,” then we can be facilitating as Teachers when we make learning possible or easier, and we can be facilitating as Moderator when we make discussion or exchange of information possible/easier. In the same manner, we can facilitate as a Teacher when we make whatever we do (lectures, presentations, demonstrations, etc.) easier.
In the context of where I am most involved in (Corporate Learning), we can be said to be facilitating in many roles. See illustration below.
By using two dimensions: “Participation in the Group’s Process/Life” on one side and “Contribution to Content” on the other, we can place certain activities accordingly, e.g., providing the platform where learning can happen (f2f or digital) will be both low in Process Participation (PP) and Content Contribution (CC) – yet can be still considered as facilitating; acting as host to a group (f2f or digital) will be low in CC but high on PP; moderating a group will be high both on CC and PP; while making a presentation of a pre-produced material would be high on CC but low on PP — again, all activities or roles entailing basic facilitating, which is to “to make possible/easier.”
In the next illustration below, one can also see that even Technology itself can perform different “facilitating” roles.
For instance, Second life can be classified under all four quadrants where:
As a simple platform that anyone can use for their own purpose, it is a simple low CC and low PP facilitator (making possible and easier whatever you want); As a ‘turf’ of a particular site, an owner can simply act as a Host, facilitating whatever you are looking for but within pre-determined ambiance of the place (low CC, high PP); As a venue for the activities of a Community of Practice, it can be used with both high CC and PP; and As a place where a company such as Reuters can download their activities or advertisements, it is facilitating with high CC and low PP.
So, to the question of whether to teach, to facilitate, to moderate or use any of the other terms? The answer is, It still depends on the context.
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