Responding to Facilitator: Contexts, Roles, Responsibilities, Competencies, Knowledge, Skills and Attitudes

1. What influenced your perceptions and beliefs about faciliation roles and responsiblities in relation to context?

Well, simply, roles of facilitators will change depending on the context they are facilitating. For instance, if a facilitator faces a particularly acrimonious setting, they will need to take a different role on than one who is going into a meeting to push forward a stalled project that has no acrimonious tone.

2. How aware were you / are you about the affect of these influences?

I am usually very aware of external influences on how you approach situations. Working in a political environment, one has to be aware of their audience, and how to approach them with suggestions and constructive criticism. I expected that a poor facilitator would be able to miss many of these points when dealing with a group; whereas a good facilitator would be able to innately sense them, and capitalize on their existence.

3. What do you suppose is the basis for your perception?

I would further the theory that knowing how emotional people can get when things involve their personal work is the basis for my understanding of how facilitators work well.

4. What new learning do you take from this exercise?

I am taking a few new methods of dealing with different situations as a facilitator.

5. How might you apply your learning?

I will take some of the scenarios that were played out as good and bad examples of facilitation – especially how one facilitator ensured that all parties had an opportunity to speak and kept everyone involved. He was particularly aware of body language and facial expressions as cues to encourage people to speak.

Reflections on the Nature of Connectivism (Week 1)

CCK08 – Hmm. After reading, and re-reading the articles from last week to sum up my thoughts on the dialogue so far and what I imagine is the dialogue to come, I have to say that I see a few parrallels between Connectivism and Anarcho-syndicalism. For those of you who don’t know me a little side bar is in order:

I grew up a punk. I’m still a punk, although I do clean up awfully well, as most people say when they see me in more professional attire. Deep down, I believe in a form of anarchy, although I recognize the impractical nature of it. I do think doing it yourself is the best way, and love the music. I also spent much of my youth trying to explain the concept of anarchy as not one of molotov cocktails and chaos, but of taking responsibility for one’s actions. I haven’t studied anarchism academically, and it’s been at least fifteen years since I’ve cracked any Bakunin or Proudhon, so I may be rusty at drawing some parallels (and certainly don’t have any specific examples to cross-reference readings with). With that caveat here goes.

Connectivism is like Anarcho-syndicalism in that the central authority rests with the individual.The individual decides what to do with the information, which of their networks to access, which of the multitudes of information bits to integrate, pass on or reject.

Connectivism (unlike Behaviourism – which the authority figure then says what is good information) also does not impose a hierarchical value on the members of the network, so the value of what is transmitted in the network is given and taken carte blanche. That leaves an awful lot of power in the hands of the individual to decide what is good information. Of course that speaks to the issue of truth, which as a couple of threads in the course area on Moodle has brought up, is contextual. The reality of my truth is not the same as yours, or my friends or my co-workers.

Connectivism values critical thinking highly – this is the only way to make sense of the vast array of information that is pushed through the network each second.

Week 1 Thoughts

1. Think about your teaching practise, what are you passionate about?

I really love those moments where you can see the learner just grasping the material and taking it somewhere that you never envisioned. That moment where they realize they get it, and you in turn can give yourself a short little pat on the back (which is a bit higher than one probably deserves).

2. How is that evidenced in your practise?

Well, I try to build in those a-ha moments and allow learners to run with the ball I’ve tossed them. I’m not locked into my material, and we have plenty of time to deviate from what I bring to class. In fact, I’m liable to be short when we don’t deviate from the planned course of action, which is why I’ve always brought in some sort of back up “oh, this is an interesting sidebar to the topic tonight” kind of moments.

3. Where do you hope this will all lead?

I’m kind of fortunate in that I get to teach computer skills that are probably going to be life skills. Searching the Internet is a very fundamental skill to have in a modern society, so it’s important to understand what you’re doing when you’re searching and what you’ve got when you find it. It’s very open ended. I hope my introduction to this huge topic begins their journey to being able to discover whatever information they need to that’s out there, and to have some level of confidence in the information that they’ve found. Hopefully, when things change in the future, they won’t have to take a class to figure out the new way of doing things, they can discover it themselves.

A Brief Introduction

Heh, here I was believing that I could get away without blogging in my life. Anyways, my name is Jon and I work in some ways with e-learning (whatever that means…) at Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario. I also teach web based technologies (searching techniques, Fireworks, XML) through Continuing Education at the college. The purpose of this blog is to collect my thoughts about Connectivism and the course that is being facilitated by Stephen Downs and George Siemens. Some of those thoughts will be required course work (like this introduction piece), some of them will be personal observations of what the course and the learning means to me.

At the college I assist professors using several different e-learning platforms, including First Class (known locally as FRED), Blackboard and Can8. I also dig up nuggets of information that might be useful to teachers using technology. As a student at Brock University in their Bachelor of Education (Adult Education) course, I’ve used Sakai and WebCT so far, and I’m sure I’ll use many more as we move forward.

On a personal level, I think I’ve situated myself well for this e-learning thing – I graduated from Sheridan College with a diploma in Media Arts and continued my education at Mohawk College for computer programming. Both taught me skills that I use today and most days, so I guess that is the definition of a useful education. I also chuckle at the notion of edupunk, as I’ve been involved in punk rock for most of my adolescent (and adult – whatever that is!) life.

I’m interested in the Connectivism course as I’m interested in the ways people learn. Aside from that, I’m very intrigued by the decentralized notion of learning – Paolo Freire’s beliefs certainly come into play here – and the relationship between connectivism, common knowledge and authorities in subject matter.

My requirements for a successful course is a difficult question to answer – certainly gaining knowledge and a greater understanding of connectivism is the ultimate goal. Some lively discussion will have to take place; I’ll certainly be interested to see how the course plays out as the sheer numbers seem staggering to me.