Facilitating online course: introduction

The true meaning of consensus was something the Canterbury University Peace group wanted to get to the bottom of. Before we could act we needed an ethical basis for making decisions. From a philosophical standpoint, we needed to decide on things together in a non-coercive way. To do otherwise was considered as a form of violence to each other.

While I can’t recall the subtleties of our discussions in 1988 and 1989, I do remember we agreed to become good at shared facilitation. I’ve still got one of the books which I treated as a bible for non-violent communication, “A resource manual for a living revolution”. Ever since I’ve had an interest in effective decision-making and group processes.

I’ll be dusting off this book out, and other materials I’ve gathered over the years, as I begin a Facilitating Online course. I’m familiar with most areas being covered by the course, which looks for online community in forums, blogs, wiki, virtual worlds and social networking platforms, and have led discussion and sharing within many of these platforms.

The missing link for me is stepping things up a gear and helping online groups to be really effective. I’ve learned a lot by doing and reading (including seminal texts such as “Community-building on the web” (2001) by Amy Jo Klein and “Design for Community” (2001) by Derek Powazek).

I’m seeking some structured methods for facilitating conversations and sharing learning. I’d also like to talk with others about the efficacy of best practice guidance for running online groups.

During the four month course there are three pieces of assessment, including input into a virtual conference. I’ve signed up as an informal student, but course credits can be obtained through Manukau Institute of Technology. There is no cost to join in, just your own time.

Already nine others have signed up, a few short of the 74 people listed as participants in 2008. I’m anticipating lots of sharing and commenting – in fact, I’m worried it might absorb more time than I have to spare.

I’ll be writing regular posts about the course, using the tag FO09. Feel free to add your thoughts too.

Update: check out how I’m progressing – see a list of related posts.