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Welcome to our course in online facilitation. During the next few weeks we will learn about online facilitation in this completely online environment. If we want our students and participants in our online projects to develop skills of online communication and learning, then as educators and facilitators we will also need to have learnt these skills ourselves.
This is an open access course in online facilitation for university educators in Anglophone Africa. The original open access materials were developed by Tony Carr and Shaheeda Jaffer from the Centre for Educational Technology at University of Cape Town and Jeanne Smuts of Human Development Africa with the support of David Shepherd of All Things in Moderation and Nancy White of Full Circle Associates.
Tony Carr, from the Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching (University of Cape Town) and e/merge Africa, is your course convener.
Our facilitators for this instance of the course are Nicola Pallitt (Centre for Higher Education Research,Teaching and Learning - Rhodes University), Catherine Fortune (University of Cape Town) and Irene Maweu (freelance eLearning consultant, Kenya).
The course schedule includes reflection time and takes account of the complex and busy lives of participants by building in a break of a week after each fortnight of course activity.
Week 0 : Preparing to arrive
In this week we focus on helping everyone to get ready for the course. You will receive your course arrivals document and your username and password for our course site. Then you will be able to log in to the site and take a look around.
Week 1 : Arriving
In this week we focus on welcoming everyone to the course, familiarising ourselves with the course environment, programme and outcomes and getting to meet each other online. You will also have an opportunity to consider your strengths and learning opportunities as an online facilitator.
Week 2 : Conversing
In this week we consider strategies for building online learning communities, agreements about how our community will work together and some online facilitation skills and strategies. Along the way we will get to know each other better.
Consolidation Week 1 : Reflection, Making sense, Catching Up
Week 3 : Facilitating
In this week we continue our development of facilitation skills and strategies. In particular we focus on questioning, summarising and weaving conversations. We will also consider the similarities and difference between face-to-face facilitation and online facilitation. By the end of this week you will be able to play a very useful role as an online facilitator in a course or online learning community.
Week 4 : Creating
In this week we strengthen our facilitation skills. We consider strategies for dealing with differences and conflict and building trust in online communities. Towards the end of the week you will use a simple template to develop an online activity for use in one of your courses or learning communities.
Consolidation Week 2 : Reflection, Making sense, Catching Up
Week 5 : Applying
In this week we prepare for leaving the course and becoming independent online facilitators. We look at ways of building networks and finding resources as part of our personal development plans. Then its time to share our closing reflections and to say goodbye.
This online facilitation course adopts an active and experiential approach to learning. The course is based on the following principles:
This course fosters the capacity to build online learning communities and communities of practice within the context of courses and conferences. This course is also designed to provide participants with an experience of engagement in an online learning community. Online learning communities are encouraged through developing online interaction and learning conversations amongst participants. Acknowledging,valuing, respecting and accommodating diversity as a combination of similarities and differences plays a central role in fostering and maintaining online learning communities. The course creates awareness of the benefits of online facilitation as a step towards becoming leaders of online learning communities.
While the Facilitating Online course mostly uses online discussion, chat and e-mail, it also introduces the opportunities afforded by Web 2.0 technologies for developing and maintaining online learning communities.
The course uses play as a bridge to learning by attempting to make learning fun. Playful learning involves participants taking small risks, playing with ideas, keeping an open mind and making connections where they are not obvious. Participants are encouraged to express their creativity through developing their ability to challenge, question and explore.
A key principle underpinning this course is the emphasis on reflection as a learning process. Reflection on your own learning helps you to take ownership of your learning process. Articulating your reflections makes your thinking available for comment and feedback. Reflection is an important facet in the development of online facilitation skills and strategies required for the establishment and maintenance of online learning communities.
We have agreement from the Centre for Extra-Mural Studies at UCT about the issue of a short course certificate of completion from University of Cape Town to participants who complete 75% of the activities of the course (including a few mandatory activities) to a satisfactory standard. There may be some opportunities for paid and voluntary facilitation roles in the e/merge Africa network once you have completed the course. You are also encouraged to identify opportunities to run Facilitating Online courses within your country or region either as part of your normal job or as a freelance or commercial venture.
The Facilitating Online team will be researching the interactions and learning trajectories of participants in this course. Some of the relevant questions are likely to include:
- What is the nature of the learning that occurs in online conversations?
- What are the enablers and constraints of learning in this course?
- Are participants operating as a community of practice?
- Is there evidence of peer to peer learning?
- How are participants using their professional experience and personal histories as assets in the learning conversations?
- What are the enablers and constraints in applying the learning from this course in professional contexts?
To this end we will request permission from you to quote some of your messages anonymously. We may ask if we can interview you about your experience in the course and how you apply your learning from the course.