Friday, October 30, 2009

Tips for Facilitating Learning. Effective Facilitators Characteristics.

Facilitating Learning

Facilitation is the art of guiding others in self-discovery. Facilitation isn't about leading, teaching, or training. It's about providing a safe environment or arena for people to make discoveries for themselves. It's almost like self-directed learning, but there is a coordinator (facilitator) to hold it together and to guide it along. The facilitator could be seen as the chair, if you like.

Effective facilitators:
 Adapt their small-group activities to suit the participants, the environment, and the desired outcomes
 Are proactive (before using a small-group activity, they modify it on the basis of the characteristics of the participants and the purpose of the activity)
 Are responsive and make modifications during the small-group activity to keep the different tensions within acceptable ranges
 Are resilient (they accept whatever happens during the small-group activity as valuable data and continue with the activity)

Tips for Facilitating Learning
 Flexible facilitation means that you should be aware of your biases about group experiences (as a member and a facilitator) and how they influence you in your current role as a facilitator.
 Before planning a small-group activity, you need to collect information on the likely preferences of your participants along each of the six stress areas. The best strategy for collecting this information is to interview the participants and possibly cross-check your information with other facilitators who are familiar with the group.
 Whether you are designing a new activity or using an existing one, integrate your understanding of the participants' preferences into design and implementation.
 As your participants work through the activity, continuously monitor the levels of various stresses. If the six stresses are at optimum levels, do not interfere with the flow of the activity. However, some tensions are likely from time to time. Wait to see if the group makes its own adjustments. With inexperienced groups, you may need to intervene with appropriate adjustments.
 Conduct a debriefing session with the participants to collect information on their perceptions of the different stress levels. This can be done by asking the participants questions such as"When did you feel the activity was too tightly structured?" or"When did you feel the facilitator interrupted you too often?"



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