Monday, November 30, 2015

Facilitating the Social Learning for Social Impact GROOC

One of the aspects of the facilitation team of the Social Learning for Social Impact GROOC which I've appreciated is these strong affinities which facilitators have been exploring since our 3 day get-together in late August 2015. and the unexpected creations which this has since led to - even before the course launch.

 Our facilitators are 30+ individuals worldwide 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 hoped 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). This was quite a difference from the primarily undergrad McGill Management makeup I had half-expected when we sent the callout.

As a group, they now echange as a team across 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 the Bronfman building of the Faculty of Management at McGill- 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 has acted as ground zero for explorations of our GROOC's educational content.

In many ways, this is taking me back to my own MA thesis and Jean Lave and Etienne 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 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 were on the right track, given the extent to which they owned the community and 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 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, they were a large art of the emerging culture of our group in so doing, strenghtened the sense of ownership the facilitators had in this project and their vested interest in suporting the learners.

This rich and unexpected set outcomes resulted from social learning and the creation of live- relationship-based networks. My hope is that ultimately, our facilitators have fostered even a fraction of this excitement amongst the EdX learner community!

Our facilitators taking part in a 3-day peer training session

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