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Training Video: Blended Learning Challenge #4: Redefine the Role of Facilitator

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Published on Jul 10, 2012

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Understand that blended learning takes facilitators out of their comfort zones because of the dependence on technology. Consider having an assistant instructor who manages the technology so the facilitator can focus on content.

"We do need to redefine the role of a facilitator, and as online learning has become more and more popular, we're hearing the word 'facilitator' more than 'trainer,' more than 'instructor' because there's so much that the participants need to do. Our facilitators are guiding students through learning, helping them through self-paced content, and then using this live time to apply what they learned on their own, and that's a big, big change. That puts facilitators out of their comfort zone because if the technology has failed, we feel that the facilitator has failed, and we need to teach our facilitators that it takes much more time to manage a blend and it can be much more demanding. Anybody who's taken an online college class will know that our participants work much harder when they are trying to fill out all those discussion boards and fill out all those papers, than the ones that go to class.

"Facilitators tend to teach individual modules as courses as opposed to parts of a bigger blend. So we need to train our facilitators by immersing them in a blend. As great as programs like this are, I don't call this 'training.' Don't think that you've been to 28,000 Training magazine programs and therefore you've been immersed in a blend. Take a blended learning class; be a participant in your colleague's blended learning classes so you can see the pitfalls and challenges that these participants are going through, and I do believe in using a team teaching approach. Not just in your live-online sessions, but a moderator who can be the participant advocate throughout the whole program. We call that person a producer or an assistant instructor.

"And we do need to reinforce more than the most-live component. The tendency is, even for the facilitator, if there's a classroom face-to-face component of your blend, that's where we focus our time, and we don't worry about the rest. If there is a live-online component and self-paced, we focus on the live-online. Every piece needs to be as important. If you are not requiring every part of your blend, then you might as well not roll it out, because nobody's going to do it if you're not requiring it.

[In response to a question in the chat] "'Just because someone has the knowledge, they're often thrust into the role of the facilitator, and I think professional trainers know how to work the room.' I agree with that, and when you don't have that option, the producer or that assistant trainer can really take that role because they might not know the content, but they can manage the experience, so you don't need to have a producer who's a content expert, but they should be an experience expert and manage the entire experience and kind of help that subject matter expert work their way through it. That's a great option. It's like a professional meeting manager, and it doesn't need to be the most expensive resource."

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