Monday, August 24, 2009

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


  1. Debra
    forgive your wisdom. This is indeed what we do with adult learners f2f anyway. I think the dicsussion aroun d the three roles is almost a red herring- or should that be crimson.
    Thank you for this really refreshing version of the dis cussion.

  2. Great post Debra. How much do you agree with this whole discussion a matter of semantics? Does it really matter what we call ourselves as long as we do whatever it is we're supposed to do?


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