Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Thoughts on our Facilitators

This is an email that Alex Megelas, our Facilitators coordinator, sent to Henry on Sept. 10 reflecting on the training weekend. I reproduce with his permission. It's about our team of Facilitators!

Hi Henry -

Just saw your post on LinkedIn today about efficiency and it reminded me to jot down some thoughts on our facilitator team structure as a follow up to our meeting on Tuesday. I hope it's not too late.

What I appreciate about the facilitation team so far is these strong affinities which they have been exploring since our 3 day get-together and the unexpected creations which this has since led to - even before the course launch.

These are 30 individuals who, outside of a few had not had any prior contact. As far as makeup is concerned, they are a veritable representation of the stakeholders we might hope to engage in the GROOC: socially aware individuals including both seasoned field veterans and students for whom this is an initial exploration. They come from a variety of academic and professional backgrounds, spanning multiple cultural context (networked across 52 countries, collectively speaking 16 languages). Quite a difference from the primarily undergrad McGill Management makeup I had half-expected when we sent the callout.

As a group, they now exitedly exchange in a variety of platforms, both real and virtual. Our 3-day training was one such temporary space, through which a common role was defined and shared values were named. These affinities are now being followed up on in a shared Googlegroup platform, and in real time at the small shared office in Bronfman - where half a dozen of our facilitators reclaimed a dissused utility closet and turned it into something they are thrilled to be in and which, as of this Friday, will begin to act as ground zero for explorations of our GROOC's educational content.

In many ways, this is taking me back to my thesis and Lave and Wenger's work on communities of practice. Out of social disconnects, we have seen emerge clear cultural boundaries to our facilitator team (our shared mandate in relation to the course, the EdX platform, the Googlegroup and the shared office) in relation to which the work is situated. In that regard, if the goal was to foster engagement in our facilitators, we seem to be on the right track, given the extent to which they seem to own the community and want to see connect to a variety of unexpected new ideas and initiatives. Some examples of this: 1. A PhD researcher facilitator studying educational technology expressing interest in integrating our publicly available course transcripts in a cross-referenced public access wiki, in order to promote access to non-English speakers, 2. a facilitator based out of Toronto where she works at OCAD, attempting to form regional course hubs in Toronto and Buenos Aires and 3. A Human Systems Intervention student based out of Montreal proposing a journaling project to reflect on the experience. Although these sorts of ideas and initiatives are occuring outside of the scope of our immediate mandate, I suspect that they will continue to emerge and in so doing, will strenghten the sense of ownership the facilitators have in this project and their vested interest in suporting the learners.

From a data perspective, there's a layer there that we may want to hang on to - the unexpected, messy outcomes resulting from social learning and the creation of networks...

Anyway - I hope that ultimately, our facilitators will help foster even a fraction of this excitement amongst the EdX learner community!

Hope this helps. Happy to expand on anything.


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