Monday, August 24, 2009


Leigh’s article written in 2007 discusses the dichotomy of teacher v facilitator with no mention of moderator. I wonder two years down the track whether Leigh has changed any of his views.

The Australian Network guidelines for effective online facilitation do make reference to moderating but it is the participants moderating each other as a measure of success. Kenshal-Bell (2001) identifies three sets of skills necessary for success. These are technical, facilitation and managerial skills essential for the changing and challenging role of the teacher in online learning. The same article names many others who have identified attributes and skills that build on the attributes and skills of a face to face teacher. It also distinguishes between and identifies challenges both for the facilitation of online learning and the facilitation of online communities. In the same article Hootstein (2002) identifies the four moderation roles of instructor, social director, programme manager and technical assistant. These are not progressive roles, but interchangeable roles that moderators adopt as appropriate to the group/circumstance. Again, I believe that these are the skills that teachers draw on in the face to face arena too.

Just read the article of virtual teams it’s notable how many of the characteristics are the same as those for a community of course apart from the role of leadership.

Facilitator v Moderator v Teacher

My immediate response to the terms:
Facilitator: This suggests a partnership of someone wanting something to happen and someone making something happen or facilitating the environment for that to happen. When I have facilitated meetings, I have posed questions, facilitated discussions by holding the floor and directing the discussion rather like an orchestra. I have also been responsible for drawing together the main points or themes and feeding them back to the group either verbally or in writing. The behaviour for this role is of quality assurance, the facilitator must prompt, join in, ask probing questions, lead the way, motivate, set the pace without being intrusive. The facilitated ‘learning process encourages student interaction and groupwork, drawing upon past and current life and work experiences, and utilises problem solving as a key mechanism in learning’ (Q Project , Bradford 2005) The facilitator must empower the participants to make the learning their own. In the words of Kenny Rogers you need to know when to hold up, when to fold up, when to walk away and when to run .
Moderator: in the rawest form of the term a moderator checks that standards are maintained eg. NZQA moderation. If I think of my experience of eModeration it has to be on the immigration forums. A moderator might move a thread to another area, or step in to maintain netiquette if someone is overstepping the boundary. The behaviour for this role is of quality assurance but in a more directive way than a facilitator. I know, I am finding it had to separate the emoderator from the NZQA moderator.... The moderator sets the scene and tone of a community and if it’s not right, people will not connect.
Teacher : has power and gate keeping connotations, I know that some may not agree with that but just bear with me and consider the traditional chalk and talk, and sage on the stage scenarios. For me the term teacher is something that belongs to compulsory education. I have not heard the term used outside of compulsory education, the term lecturer is commonly used in the tertiary sector. In the UK there was a strong movement in JISC projects for the term eTutoring to replace eModeration. Coincidentally if you look at the skills identified as necessary for an eTutor they are remarkably the same. Coomey & Stephenson reviewed 100 research reports and journal articles between 1998 and 2000 (I know dated now) to identify the four major features and came up with DISC. Dialogue, Involvement, Support and Control. All of which are vital for successful facilitating, moderating and teaching.
It is unsurprising that we cannot distinguish clearly between the three terms as they are used interchangeably throughout an emerging eLearning literature:
Gilly Salmon’s 5 stages of online facilitation stated in eModerating, the key to teaching and learning online. (2000) Kogan Page. One could postulate that it is to be expected as the emergent terminology attempts to keep up with the emergent technology.
In 2005 I took part in the Q project supported by JISC in the UK, this is where I first came across the two terms, eModeration and online facilitation. This where get the claim of a switch from eModerating to eTutoring from. The tearms were used interchangeably there by all involved. I hav ot say that I have taken my eye off the ball since moving over to NZ.
Doing search on wikeducator reveals,_feedback,_and_e-moderation/Moderating_online_learning/E-moderation_skills that e have not moved on a lot since 2001. I accept that this refers back to Salmon’s eModeration skills but in the introductory paragraph the terms Taught and Facilitation are used under the heading of eModeration.
Online pedagogy is supposedly to be a move ‘away from content delivery to the creation of a community through interactions online, online facilitation (or e-moderation) – that process of managing the communication of others online’ (Coghlan, M 2001 from virtual to reality conference, Brisbane). Forgive my ignorance but isn’t this what we do with adult learners in a classroom setting anyway?

I know I haven’t addressed the three questions yet......but it is tea time....I’ll be back later

feedback on community presentations

In a nutshell; The Michael Wesch you tube presentation didn't grab my attention initially. Maybe I expect to be entertained by you tube, let's face it when surfing we want instant satisfaction and I didn't get it from that, sorry Michael but I didn't feel instantly connected. BUT, being a dutiful student I did persevere to find a very entertaining and informative presentation. I am on you tube, my daughter surprised me by coming to NZ to visit unannounced , hid in a cupboard and, which my son asked me to get something from. They filmed and posted it on there for my family back in UK to see. My son (20) gets involved in political debates online, that is just something that I would had not had the confidence to do when I was 20.

I enjoyed Steven Downe's clippit. He makes some valid points that I may need to digest further. I don't see why we have to draw distinctions between a group and a network. I will flit between the two as and when the need takes me. This, that and the other should have a health warning with all the rapid image changes. If you were to use that in a UK classroom you may need to warn students with a disposition for epilepsy or migraines that the imagery may have an adverse effect. Certainly attention grabbing, inter-dispersed with text.

Slideshow of photographs