This is an archive of the 2013 version of ocTEL.

Facilitating peer support

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  • #4266
    James Kerr

    Facilitating is the key term in this topic.  Facilitation means you act as the catalyst for peer support.  The support and learning is coming from the group of learners, not directly from the instructor.  Facilitation requires the use of leading questions, of providing resources, and nudges as required.

    We can see facilitation happening in this ocTEL MOOC; many, many resources and opportunities are provided for us learners to soak up.  There are communications avenues provided, and there are experts available (our generous hosts).  As can be seen, especially in the forums, the learners “take over” and peer discussion takes place.  We support each other, challenge each other, and support each other.

    But we also can observe that this active group is comprised of a small fraction of the enrolled population of this MOOC.  That’s the nature of MOOCs; high enrollment, but also a high level of lurkers and inactive participants.  The core groups that remain active throughout are self-motivated learners with discipline when it comes to learning.  They want to be there, and want to have a positive experience for themselves, but also to help others have a positive experience.

    Is this too broad a generalization?


    This is first exp of MOOC for me, and my level of participation has been low, mainly down to other commitments. ‘Facilitating learning’ is what being any kind of  teacher is all about (See latest Ken Robinson TED talk).

    As my confidence to engage, and finding people, like yourself, who I want to engage with, within the MOOC, so is my level of participation and commitment to MOOC.  The resources are great, but it is the people (mainly other students) who have been the hook and the reason to come back.

    Being a MOOC lurker makes you feel like you should appologise for ‘lurking’ or for not being more ‘active’, but as a self-identified ‘learner’ my confidence will be low, and my familiarity with the MOOC also low, so getting the supportive environment right from the start, to encourage less confident students to contribute is crucial (much as in any learning environment).

    Thanks again for post – please check out my latest blog –

    and on





    Apologies for posting so late- I’m not a lurker but inundated with work and just not able to do all I would like. Originally I had expected that my priority would be to look at the MOOC materials and learn what I could from them to take into my own and my colleagues’ practice. However, I actually find myself heading straight for the forums and then take key points from the discussions to further explore and develop within my own practice where I see a gap or way of improvement. This is a whole new approach- it feels indulgent yet the fact that the postings come from fellow practitioners with pertinent support from facilitators at opportune moments means I feel neither a lurker not a cheat in that I want to contribute and respond because I am able to tailor the focus to meet my exact own interests whilst having my views broadened and interest aroused by the comments of others. It’s a way of learning without the pressure to meet any pre conceived expectations- and I like it! This was my first ever MOOC and it has been worth the frantic catch up this week as I don’t want to miss a thing!



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