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.

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6 thoughts on “Facilitating online course: introduction

  1. Dominic Ballesteros

    Hi Stephen! This comment is rather off-topic but I have just received the latest issue of the CommunityCentral newsletter. Congratulations for a job well done! I hope there will still be opportunities to chat! If you stumble upon seminars geared towards the Web, let me know and we might see each other there!

  2. Sarah Stewart

    Hi Stephen, great to have you on the course. I am really looking forward to working with you and hearing your perspective being that you work with NGOs. Any questions, please let me know, cheers Sarah

  3. Elaine

    Stephen, you are one of the main reasons i joined this course – to meet people from a diverse range of backgrounds who will bring untold wealth of experiences to the learning experinece and conversations. Can’t wait. Cheers, ELaine.

  4. Stephen Blyth

    Kia ora koutou
    Thanks for the thoughtful words. Shifting our practice up a gear or two is what I’m looking forward to. And many side conversations no doubt.

  5. willie campbell

    great to have aq dedicated community developer in this group.
    My children are forever telling me I’m getting far too institutionalised working at Otago Polytechnic and should go back to really getting to grips with the world. (I think I’m actually rather afraid to do that now. possible I am too institutionalsied) 🙂
    Look forward to the interaction in this collectivity.
    Ramping up a gear is a rather hopeful goal. (Some organisations wouldn’t let you away with that thought).
    Go well.


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