3.9 Encouraging other learners
If you look back to the different stages of guiding and the skills required, you will see that they focus on being a friendly presence and supporting learners to focus on tasks, explore and discuss issues, and reflect on their learning. As an affiliated guide your role is not to teach learners or offer formal advice on their studies, but you can encourage them to share ideas and respond to and reflect on existing posts.
Contributing to a conversation that has an academic purpose can be quite daunting for learners. They could be attempting to write in a way that sounds academic while not being offensive, and be painfully aware that whatever they write has an alarming permanency and is directed towards a largely unknown audience. Your role as an affiliated guide is to encourage learners to participate in the conversation and see it as a safe environment to learn in.
There are a number of elements that have been identified as being of importance in supporting effective learning groups (Cole et al, 1990).
- a climate of respect and acceptance for individuals in the group, irrespective of similarities and differences
- everyone’s contributions being acknowledged and valued
- listening being valued as much as talking
- openness in communication
- the development of clear processes for making decisions
- the leader taking responsibility for the process of the group
- clarity in the setting of goals and tasks
- problems being faced openly and constructively.