Thursday, August 27, 2009

Week 3? 4?

I am already loosing track...

In the posting dated 17th August, Sarah mentioned the confusion between the role of facilitator, moderator and teacher.

What is the difference between the 3 roles? I have been using several resources in an attempt to define this roles.

Dictionnaire Larousse

Oxford dictionary



The role of the facilitator is in a discussion is

  • to help to bring about an outcome by using or providing indirect or unobtrusive assistance, guidance, or supervision.
  • assists in the management of an exchange of ideas, information, and opinions.
  • A neutral person who makes progress easier
  • Expected to offer guidance along the way to making decisions rather than provide expertise on a particular subject relevant to the decisions.

Skills required by a facilitator:


-to be able to gain the trust of the participants

-identify and able to summarise the participant's ideas

-keeping a neutral position


The moderator will let a discussion take place and will only intervene

  1. to iron the excesses out
  2. To enforce the rules of the discussion

There is more an idea of mediating and arbitrating. There is a confusion with the role of facilitator in some of the definition found.

Skills required by a moderator:

-perfect knowledge of the rule of the discussion.



The idea is there to instruct, to impart and inculcate knowledge as you would fill a bucket. A teacher must be an expert in his field. The role of teacher is often formal and ongoing.

Skills required by a teacher:

    -Technical expertise



An online community will need a moderator, and a meeting would benefit from a facilitator.

So should we teach, facilitate or moderate?

The role of an educator varies in between these 3 poles. I have been fortunate enough to teach a range of subject across intermediate, secondary and tertiary education. The techniques used to educate vary and are influenced by the context, subject, topic and public. The personality of the educator will make him/her prefer a technique instead of another.

Modern teaching methods would make an appropriate use of moderation and facilitation.

  • The role of a teacher undermining the role of a facilitator when the teacher is trying to impose his/her views on a group.

  • I cannot think of a situation when the role of a facilitator undermine the role of a teacher or moderator .


  1. I get very anxious about the bucket filling version of teaching. It is so unaware of the knowledge and experience base of the learnerand the most effective way to engage that learner with material that shifts/expands/enlarges their awareness.
    Teaching I believe has a very bad public image and I don't really want to support this.
    Sometimes an instructor or trainer and here i think of workplace trainers in manufacturing and production work arenas, do need to be quite clear and dogmatic about the right way to do something, but that is a case specific anmd quite ok way to work.
    A skilled "educator" combines all of the roles we are asked to look at and will choose with "intentionality" from their tool kit, which way will suit the learner and the circumstance.

  2. I am wondering if educators can be facilitators in some respects when they have 'power' over students in terms of assessment - would 'curator' be a better way of looking at things rather than facilitator?

  3. You have helped me understand what was meant by 'undermining'. I wasn't sure about these questions. Thank you. I also agree that as educators we do slip into all 3 roles at some time.