There have been a few comments added to my Peer Assist post, most lately Nancy’s eternal optimism 🙂

I’m looking forward to an opportunity to try out an online peer assist event. As well as the problem of finding a good facilitator though, I realise there is also the problem of presenting something as a problem for the peer assist event. I am very used to presenting something as a proposal, a pitch to management, a sell – not a problem.. but its a simple shift really. I’ll get over it. Perhaps that’s my first problem to present for peer assist?..

The problem of good facilitation is worth focusing on though. Part of the problem I think, is in how we are too willing to accept the close relationship teachers form with the idea of facilitation – but rarely the practice. I tend to prefer there be no connection at all. Some teachers start calling themselves (or what they are doing) facilitators – when what they are REALLY doing is teaching. This confusion between the two practices isn’t helped by the many eLearning resources that refer to online facilitation as an online teaching technique.

I think there is a big difference between teaching and facilitating. There is good teaching, and there is good facilitation. I’m not sure it is possible for someone who is identified as a teacher, to then be seen as a facilitator. The power dynamics make it impossible for a start.

I think we should make a clearer distinction between the two practices and preserve the integrity and unique qualities of both.

Starting with the eLearning resources we create for teachers. I’m trying to make a distinction over at the Wikiversity page for Online Facilitation (see the discussion page particularly). That page started off as a copy paste from a NZ made eLearning resource for online facilitation. It was extremely specific to the context of institutionalise learning, and I think that helped to corrupt the integrity of the concept of facilitation and facilitating online, and supsequently the practice – ending in a problem of finding a good facilitator. (Side note – perhaps we should add facilitation as an intellectual persuite in schools like we do for debating..)

I have been slowly stripping away the references and specifics to an educational context in the wikiversity page, and trying to get the resource more like a stand alone guide for facilitating communication online. That way it should help to form a clearer distinction between the practice of teaching and facilitation – helping to solve the problem of teachers merely using the word but not the practice. Later, the facilitating online page can be used in the context of teacher training perhaps, but not exclusively.

If anyone knows of an article that talks about the problem of teaching and facilitating, please point me to it, either here or in the wikiversity page.