The Tao of Online Faciliation

From my notes from the 2009 TCC conference.

NOTE: I will add my own notes and links later.

Presentation by Scott Robinson – Chair of Dept of Humanities at Kaplan University

There is a natural flow of energy in teaching

Yin and Yang -represents harmony, balance, good vs. bad.

Taoism –> West vs. East.

We’re dualistic hard to get away from that “Good Bad” mentality.

What about balance? Moderation?

Taoism two forces that work together to create balance. Nature and life reflects this. Yin and Yang refers to this natural balance in nature. The more we understand this flow of energy the better we can work in this flow.

  • Feminine side is dark side –> Rest and nurture, rest and restoration
  • Light (Masculine) we find –> Productivity, Work, Doing.

QUESTION: Can we put this to work to our advantage as facilitators?

Define Facilitate: What does the word mean?”

  • Let’s take the term “Make Easier.”
  • Easy –> Four letter word for educators
  • Hard –> Four letter word for students. Avoid instructors because they’re hard.
  • What  if we could find a balance between hard and easy.

Facilitator –> Conductor.

  • Faciliation is related to the flow of energy.
  • Facilitators direct the flow of energy.
  • Positive facilitation directs energy to the learner.

Chi –> energy, breath, life-force

What are some examples of learning as flow of energy?

  • Conversation online
  • Sharing on a wiki
  • Building knowledge online

Sometimes the flow is so strong

Westerners are tuned into action … hard to ‘not act.’

Wui-Wei –> actionless action. Non-action.

  • When we are actionless in the West it is often associated with laziness or weakness.
  • Wu-wei nonaction takes a great deal of self discipline and knowledge.
  • You must go with the flow. Trust the flow of energy and go with it.
  • Paying attention to the signs in an online class of student feeling/work… learning environment.
  • “Go with the flow” –> Positive facilitation is working with the energy of the student, or class, to produce the learning outcome.
  • Sometimes in a classroom there’s a ‘dangerous rip tide.’ Sometimes we take it on and try to nip the destruction at the bud. Correct the wrong assumption. Instead we should recognize the learning opportunity and go with it. Example some students might go off on a tangent and want to talk about building wikis…

Instructors as Judges.

Can’t escape this role. Sometimes this role makes us arrogant. Taoism helps us practice non-judgement.

Practicing Non-judgement

  • Suspending judgement to create space for the flow of energy
  • Non-judgement does not equal no judgement
  • Positive facilitator creates a respectful environment for learning

Here comes the Professor

  • Sage on the stage
  • Pompous
  • All knowing

Practicing Detachment

  • Releasing one’s personal attachment to the outcome
  • Positive facilitation keeps the learning process a the center by removing the (arrogant) presence of the facilitator

Tao and Constructivism

Constructivism adult learners construct meaning from previous life experiences. Positive facilitation uses the energy built into adult-learners life experiences.

Tao and Andragogy

Power is in the hands of the student or learner

Positive facilitation uses the student’s energy to fuel the learning experience.


Tao of Asynchronous Learning

Diverse energy sources occurring at a variety of times

Positive facilitation keeps the energy flowing 24/7 through frequent efforts to validate and generate learning.

Tao and Cognitive Economy

Cognitive economy adult learners invest in education based on their return on investment.

Positive facilitator creates positive energy by rewarding learning.

QUESTION: How do you do this?

Tao of Online Learning

Make learning easier by:

  • Suspending the need to judge students
  • Building meaning from the student’s life experience
  • Allowing student to fuel the learning experience
  • Frequently kindle the fire of asynchronous learning with affirmations, illustrative stories, and clarifying questions.
  • Feeding student’s hunger for learning.

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