When it comes to learning facilitation methodologies, teachers and educational leaders have a deep and abiding responsibility to students. The teacher as a facilitator is a concept that many be recent but has been needed for a long time. Facilitating learning and assessment in practice isn’t something that all teachers are innately equipped for. This guide to learning how to facilitate learning in the classroom should be invaluable in the pursuit of facilitating the learning environment and learning process.
What is the Importance of Facilitating Learning?
The importance of facilitating learning cannot be overstated. When educational leaders and teachers implement facilitating learning, they are effectively helping to build a capable workforce that can power society for generations to come. On a more individual level, facilitating learning is important because:
Technological trends can be damaging. Accurate knowledge and critical thinking skills are essential as a supplement to the technological era that we all live in. Information is accessible online, 24 hours a day and seven days a week. However, there is an onslaught of fake news and wrong information that can sideline the truth. Facilitating learning creates individuals who are well able to discern between misinformation and facts.
Lifelong learning is essential as jobs evolve. Studies show that many of the jobs available as early as 2030 have not yet even been invented. Through facilitating learning, educators create agile learners who can quickly adapt to new challenges in the workplace and develop a self-learning mindset that will serve them well into the future.
What are the Advantages of Facilitating Learning?
Facilitating learning carries many advantages for both the teacher and the students. For the teacher, facilitating learning means a more engaged classroom, where the students demonstrate that the teacher has made progress in the teaching objectives. This is very rewarding to the career teacher. Further, the teacher learns from facilitating learning; teachers learn how to adapt their teaching strategies, how to discard coursework and methods that are not working, learning to quickly adapt to the various learning styles of students. For students, there are even more advantages of facilitating learning:
Students learn how to become proactive in self-development. By involving students in the learning process, students learn more about how they learn as well as why they learn. This can aid them far into the future as they pursue their individual career goals.
Students learn how to think critically and question the information and their environment making them less vulnerable to fake online information. When teachers and educational leaders facilitate learning, they create students who learn how to rationally question things around them. This makes them into more intelligent, critically-thinking adults who will go on to make positive adjustments and changes wherever life leads them.
Students learn soft skills as they interact with each other and the facilitator in the learning process. Soft skills are very important in the workplace and in interpersonal relationships. With a facilitated learning approach, students learn to interact with peers and mentors in a healthy manner, which will enrich their business and personal lives for years to come.
Teachers as Facilitators: What is Needed?
High quality teachers can dramatically improve the learning outcome. Teachers can act as facilitators by adhering to the following guidelines:
Changed Teachers’ Mindset
Move away from the stand-by mindset that dictates, “the teacher says and the student must follow.” It’s important to understand the students’ role in the learning process. True comprehension is enhanced when students become part of the learning process, instead of being forced into a stagnant “follow along” role. Student engagement studies have demonstrated that students of all ages learn faster when they are engaged and involved in the instruction.
Deeper Questioning Skills
Learn how to ask questions; how to phrase questions in order to instigate thinking from more than one perspective. Understand the impact of a question; how will a particular question facilitate or hinder the learning process. Ask questions that require students to delve into the “why” of the answer, rather than simply the answer itself.
Enhance Listening Skills
Learn how to listen. Be attentive to what students say, but also what they didn’t say. Instead of thinking about what you are going to say after the student is finished speaking, be in the moment. Be present for the answer. Be thoughtful and try to discern why a student answered in a particular way.
Work on Course Redesign
Learn how to structure a course to facilitate both linear and non-linear learning. Work toward a balance between providing information and pulling information. Think of courses as a continual work in progress, where you are constantly making adjustments according to new knowledge about how students are learning and progressing. Create coursework that involves students in the learning process.
Better Cultural Awareness
Adapt facilitation to culture of students. For example, Chinese students are very shy. Consider how to create a learning environment where Chinese students feel more comfortable interacting with other students. Promote cultural sensitivity in the environment from other students, too.
Redesign Classrooms and Schools
Classrooms and campus should be redesigned to facilitate socialization and interactions, rather than isolation. Start with the desks. Consider adapting to the Harkness method, where students and teachers gather around an oblong table and engage in lively discussions where each student has an equal voice, instead of teacher lectures from a desk or lectern.
As you can see, learning how to facilitate learning is something that every teacher and education leader can learn. However, it’s essential that educational leaders understand what is the importance of facilitating learning so that everyone concerned can be on board with the needed changes and adjustments. Once those changes are implemented, the advantages of facilitating learning will be self-evident, paving the way for an easier transition to this improved way of looking at the educational process.