My path to facilitating online

Mary asked on my last post if I was experienced in the face-to-face world before I came into online facilitation. As I started to reply in a comment I thought this was such a juicy topic it might be more fitting as a new post.

For me online facilitation was a matter of discovering myself; discovering within myself skills and an identity waiting to be tapped. I originally trained as a primary (elementary) school teacher and really loved the years I spent doing that. I then moved into curriculum development, distance education, instructional design and teacher training.  So my whole adult life I have been teaching and the last 20 years of that with technology.  More than 80% of this work was face-to-face teaching or leading. I found I admired people in some very early online communities like the amazing BJ Berquist in Tapped In and Christina Preston in MirandaNet. But I had never explicitly considered myself a facilitator or what I did as facilitation until a lucky chance led me to take Nancy White‘s Online Facilitation Course. Somewhere there, in the shadow of the master, a light turned on for me and I felt a new sense of identity and a hunger to learn. I aggressively sought out events and courses wherever I could volunteer to do online facilitation work and start to feel like I had found a niche.

So in answer to Mary – do you have to have been a facilitator F2F before online – in my case I think no. Although I was a teacher I found this new facilitation role freed me from much of what constrained me in teaching. The online environment really opened up new areas, new networks, new freedoms and new realizations about myself. I also found the online communication made being an Aussie in a global learning space no handicap and through putting myslef out there I have been able to engage in global projects and facilitate along side some of the most exciting people in the community field – Nancy White, Etienne Wenger, Cliff Figallo, Beverley Trayner,  Jenny Ambrozek, Sasha Barab etc.

But the learning is ongoing and there is much to keep up with as new tools and strategies become part of the scene. Still the love of learning and being online has in no way lost its lustre and room for discovery about myself  😉

What about for others? Did you come to facilitate online from a similar background/role in F2F?