Friday, 12 September 2008

Role tensions in Teaching vs Facilitating

Thanks for sharing your views transparently Leigh in your blog – This was refreshing to read and has opened my horizons to some of the didactic dilemmas involved in the online learning realm. I am one of those vocational teachers you mentioned with a couple of decades of traditional classroom experience who is trying to paradigm shift to the online realm. Even in traditional classrooms today we are being asked to be more of a facilitator (“guide on the side”) than teacher (“sage on the stage”) and I have been experiencing similar tensions in attempting to do this in a traditional learning setting and can appreciate how these tensions are exacerbated tenfold further in the on- line environment. To help identify the "tensions " of teaching versus facilitating, as outlined by Leigh Blackall in his blogg, to help me focus I have taken the liberty of trying to capture these different roles by means of a simple diagram below:

Superimposed on this are the cultural expectations of my students as I am currently teaching in a Maori learning environment where students expect a “supportive group approach (whanau)” in the classroom lead by a knowledgeable tutor (i.e. sage on the stage) with well structured sessions. I have spent many hours pondering how online learning could be taught online with these cultural expectations also given the fact that my learners are culturally orientated towards learning from the spoken word and are not orientated towards technology learning. I have read a few papers on limited success stories with on line learning for Maori learners but as you pointed out as the technology learning curve improves in future I think some of these barriers will gradually fall away. To both you and Bronwyn I say keep marching on as you are paving the way for newbies like me!

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