Thursday, 4 September 2008

Week 4_5 Teaching, Facilitating or Moderating?

Teacher, facilitator and moderator

As a teacher, the way knowledge is delivered is teacher-centred. Teacher provides all the learning information and explanation. Student learns in a passive way with no or less critical thinking.

Teacher has more control in the learning process. I was a teacher in China before I came to NZ. Work as a teacher in China, sometimes you need to push student to achieve the learning outcomes. Teacher does take part of responsibility to help student achieve learning goals, especially when work with young children. Maybe in NZ it’s different?

Facilitating occurs in a student-centred learning environment. The main role of facilitator is to help student achieve their learning goals; help them to find their own learning path so they can learn in their own way, and maybe in their own pace. (As mentioned in Elaine’s and Kay’s blogs). Facilitator also needs to guide student to get on right track and attain the required knowledge.

Work as a facilitator, there’s less control on the learning course content and how to deliver the course to students. Student needs to be responsible for his own study and should develop self motivation to catch up with the course and finally complete the course.

The least control in study occurs when work as a moderator. Moderator usually stops the conflict and make sure the discussion is on the right track. I would say this role is more monitoring than guidance and assistance.

When are these three roles appropriate in an online community?

In an online community, I think it’s good to give basic information and learning materials as a teacher at the beginning of the study. Then assist and helping student to do more research on specific topics as a facilitator. And help with discussions and students’ work to help student get the right information and skills. Working as a moderator, we can monitor the discussion and filter abusive or offensive information.

In our classroom students attend any booked session and learn in their own paces by themselves. I am working in the classroom as a facilitator. There’s hardly any chance to be a moderator in our classroom but more chances to work as a teacher. The role shifted between teacher and facilitator depends on student’s learning ability, problems they encounters, etc. As both Elaine and Kay mentioned in their blogs. In our classroom, when student first starts the learning and not used to the self learning environment, they need teaching on basic concepts by using examples familiar in their daily life or work or by showing them how to work on computer. When students gradually get used to the self learning style and become more independent more facilitating skills are required to help and encourage students to complete the course.

Gilly Salmon & Ken Giles (1997) state that online learning can be divided into 5 stages.

1. Access and motivation stage: Students are required to set up the system and gain access to online course.

2. Online socialisation stage: Students get to know the social environment and try to take part in it.

3. Information giving and receiving stage: Students get the huge range of online information and start to contribute.

4. Knowledge construction stage: Through interaction and collaboration students start this stage.

5. Development stage: the learner is moving towards becoming independent online.

There is a overlap among teaching, facilitating and moderating roles in an online community. For example, in the first stage I think both teacher and facilitator roles can be applied here. Tips of how to set up the system and access to the online course should be given to help students get everything ready for their study.

In stage 2, maybe more facilitating skills can be applied than teaching skills? The main goal at this stage is to encourage socialisation between students and help them get familiar on how to use the learning environment.

At stage 3, although both teaching and facilitating can be applied in this stage, for provide learning materials, maybe a teacher can do better to deliver learning materials with clear and enough explanations and extra learning material to help if necessary. At this stage, students expect a teacher rather than a facilitator to help, I guess?

When students start knowledge construction through discussion and collaboration we need to step back and allow students to start their own interaction and knowledge generation without interference from the tutor. Helping students to find their own pathway to obtain and apply the knowledge / skills.

When students become more independent and gradually increase in confidence, there is generally less intervention by tutors. So the role should be shifted to facilitator or even moderator.

Gilly Salmon & Ken Giles. (1997, Oct.). Moderating Online. Retrieved 09 03, 2008, from Berge Collins: