I think a key quote here is, “the teacher manages discussions and learning activities”.
It is useless for a teacher to use the tools but abdicate responsibility for learning. The focus is always the learner; the medium is not the issue unless it gets in the way. Feedback opportunities need to be in place.
This enables the learner to move from novice to practitioner to expert. I studied this stuff for my doctoral prep in Education.
The stages go:
- Advanced beginner.
Communication opportunities that encourage interaction between learners can create a cross-pollination effect, with learners helping learners – one learner answering questions that another learner hasn’t considered relevant until a meaning context is provided based within a work or home or learning problem.
So, another key quote around this idea is, “moving from an emphasis on web content to a more interactive structure that recognises the social and interactive elements of knowledge construction”
In terms of measuring effectiveness, I wonder if any and all learners are ready to ‘put themselves out there’ in a virtual space, describing their own understandings, getting feedback from other learners & the tutor, giving feedback. It’s all a bit, well scary, really.
Facilitation is not just managing the learning environment and pace of learning opportunities, it is about relational leadership, being an exemplar of proactive, supportive and corrective behaviours.
In order or progress through Salmon's fives stages a learner actually needs some basic ICT skills otherwise the consideration of learning online is so foreign its not an even option. To encourage new entrants to try online learning, I think institutions need to provide examples or case studies of different learners and how they have moved from a physical to a virtual learning environment.
Peers from a similar social or age background to coach them, at the start.
This is acknowledged in one of our other readings as there is the two-fold ministry of tchnical support and e-moderation ( All Things in Moderation | E-tivities | 5 stage model http://www.atimod.com/e-tivities/5stage.shtml)
Face to face learning in preparation for the online environment is probably a good beginning or prerequisite for a facilitator to expect, as he/she can begin the online mediation process with some assumptions of learner skill-level.
I think my notions fit more into Paulsen's Function model: instructor, social director, program manager, and technical assistant.
Anyway, still thinking on this...