Influences on Facilitation

Thoughts on Factors Affecting Facilitation

I am very much a product of my prior and present learning environment, having been greatly influenced how I was taught and participated in the educational process.

It is my belief that as we move through our life and mature to adulthood, we essential go through stages of learning that impact how we acquire knowledge. In my personal experience my “Lens of Learning” as a child was quite different from that of an adolescent and adult.

During my formative years in middle school and high school, I would describe my learning style as that of a passive student who listened to a teacher, while trying to absorb the information presented in a lecture format. Learning during this period would be best described as my teacher, who was the expert, led the learning process and I was the receiver of knowledge and information. For the most part this was a one-way transmission of information and was a difficult stage of my learning development because it did not fit my style of learning.

In the next stage of learning, during first and second year of post-secondary education, the majority of my lower level university classes were primarily instructor led, but provided the learner with autonomy. Even though I still was the receiver of information, I was developing as a learner and becoming participatory in my acquisition of knowledge. I had much more interest as a learner during this stage and started to feel part of the educational process.

The third stage of learning paralleled my third and fourth year of post secondary education. During this stage the focus was not so much on the instructor, but instead on the learner. It was during this stage where, as a learner, I had for the first time the ability to self-direct my learning in cooperation with the instructor and fellow students.

This was a pivotal moment in my development, because I began to actively participate in the learning process and grow as a person. In many respects, I felt released from the constricted learning environments of stage one and two and more self-actualized as a learner during the humanist orientation stage.

So, Why Is This Important??

It is very important to understand how people learn because it can greatly influence the future as a learner and, in my case, as an educator.

Early on in my career I was a product of my learning experiences, in that, I assumed that with 18 years of experience, students would certainly be able to learn something from me. I became the person at the head of the class that would share my wisdom and the students would learn through the simple act of listening to me.

The irony is I want to change how students learn at universities by connecting theory with experiential learning inside and outside of the classroom, and reflection of what they are learning is an important component in their self actualization.

Over the years, and certainly reinforced through the MALAT Program, I have developed a deeper understanding of the role that learning theory plays in the understanding of teaching and learning.

As educational systems move from a 20th philosophy to a 21st century reality, I realize that teachers will need to be responsive to a learner centred approach that is open and allows for greater flexibility and autonomy of learning through a greater integration of emerging technologies.

The role of the 20th century teacher is now defined as a 21st century facilitator that is inclusionary, collaborative, connected, flexible, sensitive to diversity, engaging, present and open. This is ever important for on-line facilitation.

Even through we are swiftly moving further into the digital age it is still important to understand learning theory and its impacts on the learning. For online facilitation to flourish the foundational underpinnings of learning theory must be understood so that flexible and appropriate learning environment can be created.

No single theory can fully explain how people learn in every situation or environment; therefore it is critical for facilitators to maintain a strong knowledge base of learning theory. LeCompte and Preissle (as cited by Herrington & Oliver, 2000) state, “the purpose of theories is to help us sort out our world, make sense of it, guide how we behave in it, and predict what might happen next” (p. 3). Facilitators should consider all learning theories in their approach, ensuring that specific learning strategies are consistent and compatible for the right learning situation.

Much like my own experience, facilitators must be aware of their own tendencies and bias so that strategies are not applied in an inappropriate learning environment.

These are just my initial/unorganized thoughts on Facilitation and I will continue my journaling as I continue my readings.

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