Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Role and Skill of a Facilitator "Invites You In"

One of the ways to improve my facilitation skills, other than practice is to learn from those who are good facilitators themselves.

Sarah Stewart, our instructor and facilitator for this Facilitating Online course is a good example. Given that I'm somewhat late in entering this course, blame it on having a great time with my family this summer, I'm unable to give further examples and showcase people within this course Thank goodness for the edit button in Google Blogger. I can come back and edit this post anytime I want. With a bit of time I will be able to offer more insights within our group. On the other hand I may just write a post for each person within the group; afterall we are all learning together and what a wonderful way to recognize and to draw out insights and learnings from people within this course.

Ways of showcasing the people in this group
  1. Support them in their presentations
  2. Share what we have learned in our private practices
  3. Add additional resources I have found through commenting on their blogs, blogging on my blog and putting those resources on my PBWorks wiki I have just created for this course.

Other ways to learn

  1. Introduce other online facilitators from outside webinars and courses I'm involved and will be involved. Since this course ends at the end of November, I will have at least two courses I will be involved in.

May I Introduce Steve Hargadon?
Steve Hargadon is a Social Learning Consultant and host of the Future of Education interview series. On Monday August 23, 2010 he interviewed Amber Mac a technology host, journalist and author of Power Friending: Demystifying Social Media to Grow Your Business, a book I'm currently reading. Amber Mac for some very good reasons was late and Steve Hargadon's skills and role as an online facilitator became visible.

When you experience the skills of a good faciliator, you never think the work involved in mastering the skills nor do you even think the importance of the role required to make participants feel welcome. Having experienced Steve Hargadon's skills as an online facilitator, made me very aware of my role as a facilitator and the skills I need to practice.

The Role and Skill of a Facilitator
Whether you are an online or classroom facilitator the role and skills in this instance is the same. The role of any facilitator is make sure that the time spent by the people who made the effort to show up is worthwhile.

Here are some of the skills I noticed Steve practicing. The event was suppose to start at 4pm EST my time. We were told that Amber Mac would be late and the following skills became visible.

  1. Be prepared
    Things happen, electricity goes out, technology is problematic, your guests are late. Steve calmly announced that Amber Mac would be late and she would be online in about 30 minutes. He recognized that some people had made an effort to join and that there would a recording of the full hour posted later on the Future of Education web site.
  2. Set a relaxed and open tone
    He was calm throughout the 30 minutes and he never made an issue about it. I'm sure he was a bit concerned but it never showed. When Amber did show up, he calmly walked her through the set up and promptly began the interview as if nothing had happened. He was warm, inviting and engaging.
  3. Have a plan, but plan to be flexible
    Steve suggested that we could do something else while we were waiting. He would set the clock so that people didn't have to stay at their desk but would know if the interview was starting if the clock was no longer there.
  4. Asked meaning questions and listened to the answers
    Every few minutes, he would make a comment, ask a question to engage those who were waiting and repeated that if we could not stay that the full one hour interview would be posted.
    He not only listened to the answers by responding verbally, he continued to look in the chat for any comments or questions and would offer a suggestion verbally.

Steve Hargadon invited us in; his role as a facilitator, his calm demeanor, and his skills as facilitator made us want to stay.

To my fellow online learners, here's a question I'm curious about

  1. What skills have you become aware of in this course, that is helping you "invite people in and make them want to stay?

References and Resources

  1. Bit.ly - shorten, share and track your links: http://bit.ly/
  2. World Clock - Time Zones: http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/
  3. Google Blogger: http://www.blogger.com/
  4. Sarah Stewart - instructor and facilitator: http://sarah-stewart.blogspot.com/
  5. Facilitating Online 2010 course: http://wikieducator.org/Facilitating_Online
  6. Steve Hargadon - cohost of Future Education interview series: http://www.stevehargadon.com/
  7. Future of Education Past Interview Series: http://www.futureofeducation.com/notes/Past_Interviews
  8. Interview with Amber Mac: http://bit.ly/biG69h
  9. Amber Mac: http://www.ambermac.com/
  10. Book: Power Friending: Demystifying Social Media to Grow Your Business: http://amzn.to/cO6ha9
  11. Mireille's Online Facilitation Course Wiki: http://mireilles-learning-circles.pbworks.com/Mireille

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