Rose's Study Blog

August 19, 2009

Facilitator, Moderator or Teacher

Filed under: Uncategorized — rosannew @ 8:24 am

We have been ask to try and determine the different roles and behaviours of facilitators, moderators and teachers. So here goes.

Skills a facilitator may have:

  • Able to maintain a background presence that doesn’t influence people’s thinking.
  • Able to help a group work coherently together
  • Have to be very active in keeping up with everyone in a course that they are facilitating
  • Have to keep their own views and opinions to themselves
  • Have to keep people on track (very loosely) in their learning while also allowing for the free-flow of discussion to see where it may lead.

Skills a teacher may have:

  • Pedagogical background
  • Experienced in their field
  • Structured learning
  • Have an empathy with their students
  • Able to put learning materials across clearly in a clear and concise manner
  • Can inspire a passion for learning in a particular subject
  • Take a personal interest in their students
  • Usually work within some formal curricula structure
  • Can have informal teaching style as well

Skills a moderator may have:

  •  Organised
  • Some subject matter knowledge
  • Uninvolved on a content level
  • Unbiased
  • Very clear about the acceptable level of etiquette involved
  • Actively able to maintain their role 

How these roles may undermine each other

Mainly this will happen where levels of skills and responsibility overlap.  It is obviously important at the very beginning, when planning your online activity, that the people chosen for these roles clearly know where their their role ends and another one starts.  Also I believe that personality will play a big part here so chose your people well!

 A moderator may undermine the facilitator if they try to maintain too tight a control over postings. They may decide things are inappropriate rather than letting things go to see where they lead.  They might also delete postings that the teacher would have liked to leave. The same could happen with a teacher. Maybe that is why people often ask friends to be moderators so they can influence what is left in and taken out?

The role of a teacher may undermine the facilitator if the teacher wanted to take control of a session or didn’t agree with the way the group was moving towards the general consensus.

 The role of a facilitator could undermine a teacher if the facilitator has more experience in the field in that they are facilitating than the teacher. If the facilitator had some experience in the field and thought they knew more than the teacher there could end up being a clash between the facilitator and the teacher.h Te facilitator might guide the group towards a general consensus that wasn’t quite what the teacher planned. Also the facilitator may become more involved by injecting themselves into the group and adding opinions.  

 It’s interesting that there isn’t really a facilitator in real life teaching situations (is there?) so maybe fitting the facilitator into the teaching model doesn’t work that well. Which is probably some of the rationale behind this course– how do people learn without a teacher? Given the right tools can we teach ourselves? Do we want to even? Isn’t it easier to have structured learning? But does this by nature make it then prescribed learning. I digress…… 

A teacher is often also a facilitator when it comes to online and F2F learning. So is an online facilitator a unique role that sets the teacher and facilitator up in a conflict situation? Obviously when setting up a course personality and experience would have to be considered regarding the two roles (and the depth of experience they have) when working together.



  1. Thanks for the post-I found it really interesting…as often is the case, bringing up more questions than answers. What I wanted to ask is: what do you mean when you say that aren’t facilitators in real life teaching situations?

    Comment by Sarah Stewart — August 27, 2009 @ 11:24 am | Reply

  2. Hi Sarah,

    What I meant with my comments about there not being facilitators in real life teaching situations is that in a F2F classroom situation the teacher is also the facilitator. You don’t see two people doing these separate roles in a classroom. However the more I look at these different roles, the more I see how they can overlap which also shows why they can undermine each other. Also one person could be responsible for more than one role. We are taking about 3 distinct roles here but maybe not 3 distinct people. Which brings me to the roles for this course. The way you seem to be leading this course is by making the students the teacher through their interactions with each other and you are acting purely as a facilitator. If this is the case it is an interesting approach.

    Comment by Rosanne Wilson — August 31, 2009 @ 5:07 pm | Reply

  3. This was a deliberate decision made by Leigh as a way of role-modeling the difference between teaching & facilitating…he believes that a teacher cannot facilitate and assess…so he wanted to keep a distance & purely focus on assessment.

    I have to say that I have found the approach to be quite difficult…I have had to work very hard to purely facilitate and not ‘teach’. And even now I’m not 100% sure I have it right. so it will be interesting to hear from you all about how you feel this aspect of the course went.

    Comment by sarah stewart — September 9, 2009 @ 1:26 pm | Reply

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