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Monday, 1 February 2010

Facilitation and e-Portfolios

Photograph: Dr Carl RogersI recently attended a BILD seminar on Facilitation. It was a good day with a range of speakers, plenty of practical activities and time for networking with a wide variety of 'top people'.

I had not anticipated how clearly the aspects of Facilitation equated to some of the functions of an e-Portfolio. The photograph of Dr Carl Rogers - 'The Godfather of Facilitation Theory' was subtitled, 'The person-centred approach' - and this said it all for me.

The paper presented by Graeme l’Anson particularly excited me and, with his permission, I list some of the points that he made which equate with e-Portfolio thinking:

Facilitation Theory:

This theory emphasises the learner’s involvement in the learning process, and de-emphasises the trainer’s involvement.
It says that you are there to facilitate a learning process, not to teach.

It recognises:
•a belief that human beings have a natural eagerness to learn,
•there is some resistance to, and unpleasant consequences of, giving up what is currently held to be true,
•the most significant learning involves changing one's concept of oneself.

Benefits to the User of Facilitation:

•Better learning
•People more motivated to improve themselves
•More open to new ideas and change
•People learn to problem solve
•More effective meetings

Three telling quotations:

“A training course is not something you do TO people or even FOR people, but WITH people”

Dave Meier - The Centre for Accelerated Learning

“You cannot teach a man anything. You can only help him discover it within himself”


“My main job was developing talent. I was a gardener providing water and other nourishment to our top 750 people.”

Jack Welch (ret CEO of GE)

Some have argued that 'The Sage on the Stage' is dead and that 'The Guide by the Side' is the way forward in education. I would argue that there is still a place for both. The performer, the challenger, the provider of rare bits of knowledge or information that interest or provoke discussion or even argument still has a place in education. But so to does 'the Guide by the Side' who provides that 'still small voice' of reason and reassurance'. Whether asked for or not the mentor, counsellor, supervisor, peers and parents all have a place to add to one's learning and self-esteem.

So, my challenge in this post is aimed at all teachers, support staff and technicians, that they should reflect upon Graeme l’Anson's points as above and consider how the e-Portfolio can best be that 'Facilitator' of learning.

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