Sunday, May 15, 2016

Behind The Scenes - Facilitator Development Online

Throughout the Facilitating Learning Online (FLO) and the Facilitator Development Online (FDO) workshops the same question always crops up.

How can we make our facilitation strategies and decisions more transparent to the participants?

As a facilitation team we use a variety of tools to coordinate our work: Skype, Google Docs, Private Forum in the course space (very convenient). A big goal is to keep away from email and avoid too much noise -- there's enough to keep up with in the course itself.
Beth Cougler Blom, Sylvia Riessner, Sylvia Currie

There are always challenges. We need to work quickly; this is an intensive 2-week course, so that means checking in and responding often, and this happens in more than one place. We also need to manage notifications so we can be alerted to urgent questions. Also, we invite participants to take on specific facilitation tasks, so this means reaching out to those people and at the same time keeping the facilitation team in the loop -- without too much noise.

In past FLO workshops we have included ancillary members to the team (help desk, research facilitator, shadow, support facilitator...). Depending on the role and time commitment, this might mean including those individuals in all planning and implementation discussions, or just brining them in at certain times. In all cases, these individuals have said that they find being part of the behind-the-scenes conversations to be invaluable. This tells me we should do more of it!

We haven't completely found the right balance for our transparent facilitation practices. There's always the danger of overwhelming the participants. We need to involve them, but quietly. I can say we're getting pretty good at collaborating as facilitators, so I'm confident we'll figure it out!

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