Firstly, I feel as though many questions were answered in the last four weeks, and not only did I gain a tremendous amount of knowledge, but also, I gained a tremendous amount of experience facilitating with my peers together with watching, learning and participating in the facilitation weeks provided by other groups. Do I have the same thoughts, questions and metaphor I had in the first 3,2,1 blog post – absolutely not!
After reflecting on my first blog post, I still agree with the initial thoughts of digital facilitation, but let me share some additional thoughts:
- Digital facilitation that includes interactive and reflective activities (i.e. Mattermost discussion) provides all learners with the opportunity to share their voice which includes their thoughts, ideas and theories
- When facilitating a discussion through a synchronous activity, the facilitator must ensure that all comments (from the chat as well as from the open discussion) are reflected upon and acknowledged, otherwise, the learning is not inclusive
- Organizing a guest speaker to attend a synchronous session is a genius idea. Learners hear first hand the views and perspectives of that individual and they have the opportunity to share and collaborate with others.
My questions have changed since my first 3,2,1 blog post. The last four weeks have guided my learning and I have my own answers to my original questions. Here are two more questions:
- Each team facilitated for one week. We made ourselves available to answer questions. For the most part, I do not believe the cohort asked a lot of questions of each team. Using the example of a nine week online course, on average, how many hours per week, would a facilitator need to commit to answering learner questions?
- There are two sides to the discussion about data analytics and surveillance tools used by higher education and corporations. The argument is that data analytics can provide facilitators with information about the learners – but is this information correct? Does that data tell the whole story about the learner without knowing the person and their circumstances? In my opinion the answer is no. So, the question leads back to, how can we as facilitators build relationships with our students in a world where we may not have the option to teach in a blended learning environment and have face to face contact with learners? Is the answer to restructure how we design learning and to incorporate design thinking with a focus on empathy?
Facilitators in an online environment are like the conductor of an orchestra; they have a clear vision of the final product, provide coaching and feedback as needed and lead from the front by remaining visible through a Community Of Inquiry.