Facilitating a course where most, if not all, of the participants expect teaching and learning about facilitation is really challenging. It is hard to imagine a more difficult assignment!
Some thoughts from my personal experience as a learner, teacher and facilitator.
- expecting teaching and getting a facilitator - This too will pass. Participants busy with very specific tasks and sharing their finding with the rest of the group, stop looking to a teacher. They realize that there is lots of great information flowing and are not concerned about the source.
- sage on the stage vs. guide on the side - I prefer being the guide on the side. In an asynchronous online course it is much easier to maintain this role. My courses consist of lots of activities and discussions about those activities. Setting up the activities is critical to student engagement and working toward the learning outcomes for the course. Once they get rolling, there is no stopping them.
- presence - Occasionally, students will comment / complain that I'm not "teaching" enough. Typically these are students who are really good a absorbing and parroting what is "taught" without a whole lot of learning. Most students are happy with the facilitation. However, too much presence and the participants don't make the leap forward to learner-directed learning. I'm there when they need me - problems and questions are addressed quickly, assignments and quizzes are graded with comments, and that's just fine.
- learning from peers / community - Discovering that others appreciate their contributions is huge. Learning from peers is a novel learning experience for many.
- frustration - There has to be enough direction at the outset to get participants to participate. There has to be lots of visibility for the products. It is really interesting that the FOC08 groups discussions are used a lot and there isn't much blogging and linking. Participants want / need more interactivity, more immediacy than the prescribed activities.
- David Wiley model - Look, no discussion forums, so participation is by blog or nothing. That sends a strong message about expectations and urgency (or lack there of).
- live meetings - The Elluminate meetings almost guarantee that the organizer / facilitator will be viewed as the teacher. The participants must know the purpose and what's in it for them. They must know the material, the expectations and their roles, and have prepared contributions, opinions and/or talking points, all essential if facilitation (rather than teaching) is needed.
- lead from behind by having the experience first - Another approach might be to start with the community experience. Have participants visit and reflect on several different communities, compare and contrast the differences, share observations in a forum, then back into the definitions, blogging and deconstruct the facilitation task.