How have you grown as a facilitator in this social/technical learning age?

How have you grown as a facilitator in this social/technical learning age?


In a recent Learning Rebels post, we discussed some of the more, how should we say it…antiquated practices and then conversely, discussed more enlightened techniques for building learning connections and promoting engagement.  You can see the complete post here. My question to you ~ What are you doing today, that is different from what you did 5 years ago, to build classroom engagement and connectivity? How have you grown as a facilitator in this social/technical learning age?


  1. I modified a program to use internal social media to extend engagement over time and distance with mixed results. Most importantly, I find it increasingly important to respect participants’ ability to find answers themselves using the Internet. We integrate external resources more and more, but also provide open-ended challenges for teams of participants to find answers on their own and then report what they found.

  2. I think I’ve grown somewhat organically in this space. I certainly don’t deliver anywhere near the training that I used to and it tends to be much more of a facilitator role. One thing I’ve done perhaps more than most is to embrace learning technology. I won’t deliver a course without having tools in place to allow for collaboration – the most important shift seems to be to get the questions and answers to come from the learners rather than the facilitator whether using technology or face to face. In a f2f I tend to take questions and push them through in the form of discussion rather than just answering them myself – but that takes time as it’s our natural urge to answer what we know the answer too! Social learning is not restricted to the use of Twitter or an LMS either, it can happen in f2f if you continue to provide the right environment and for me I think that’s the key. If you can provide an environment where it’s safe to fail, safe to ask questions and allow the answers to come and be discussed within rather than from you then you’re definitely on the right track.

  3. I’ve also seen a big difference when we blend the facilitation *within* the class. Simple things like playing a video of a real-life scenario to model the theoretical principles helps the participants to “get it”.

  4. Mmm…let me think back to 2009-2010. Back then, I was developing blended learning programs that did include social elements (namely participants working together and learning/discussing/being coached) but there was no online discussion forum. Even though we had SharePoint discussion boards, these were underutilised as an organisation. Meanwhile outside the company, I was all over Facebook and LinkedIn and actively blogged on my personal blog – Ramblings and was just starting to blog professionally on Activate Learning Solutions. Back in the day, I was also a bit anxious not to use these social tools in the learning context because the perception was that I was “wasting my time” and also I had been reprimanded on a few occasions about the use of social tools in my own work.

    I refer to my personal blog posts in 2009 and I was still complaining about L&D:

    And in 2012, my first post about learning (other than book reviews which were earlier) where I ventured to throw caution in the wind and finally to start writing what I thought about the change in our learning practices….

    It’s great to see L&D taking more initiative to try out different things in their learning programs.

  5. My biggest shift personally had to be letting go of control. I think this is why I can speak with a lot of candor on the topic of L&D power plays in my posts – because I have been there. I know it’s because that’s the way I was taught – have control, be credible, the students look to you for all the answers – be right or say nothing. My shift was seeing that people weren’t connecting in the class, and asking hard questions as to why. Then listening and putting that feedback into play. I think my advantage was always a willingness to try something different. Looking for a better way. That’s when I really started to put into use a true blended approach with Corporate Universities with action set learning and project based learning (this was back in 1998, I know I’m old).

    I remember when the light bulb went off above my head regarding social media tools. “What? I can connect people…for free…easily…? Sign me up!” I was the Queen of the secret pilot. If it worked roll out on a larger scale, if not – no harm, no foul. Change is scary, but we only learn from regularly breaking out of our comfort zones.

  6. I’m like Shannon in that I am learning to let go and to embrace facilitation as a unique entity, separate from instruction. My initial training as an instructor was from the military so it does lean towards the “positive control” end of the spectrum, but with good reason. I am learning to let conversations happen and to be less worried about pre-defined objectives as measures of session success. I am also mindful of connecting a session with ongoing learning activities so that the learning and the conversations can continue.

  7. I have moved from the traditional lecture style of training to developing meaningful interactive learning opportunities. Learning to give up control, (and take some of the pressure off frankly), and encourage social learning as much as possible. I am still learning how to do this well, but also starting to share this mindset and techniques with others.