Coach Carole Ramblings

Celtic, Mythical and More …

eFacilitate: the harvesting role (part 1)


In the final week in the iFacilitate course, Greg Walker invited us to explore the harvesting role of the facilitator and to consider the following questions:

  1. Who will use the summaries? 
  2. How will they use the summaries? 
  3. What is the desired action outcome from summaries? 
  4. Are they open to critique and discussion? 
  5. Will it be used to check agreement and understanding? 
  6. Will it be a collection of ideas or a synthesis and reflection of the discussion? 
  7. Where will they reside? (website, summary page, etc.) 
  8. What format will be most useful to the users (lists, action plan, narrative, story, images, mind map, etc.)

My preference of format is always the narrative and to provide a meaningful story for my audience, so hence, today’s posting!

During my recent e-facilitation for GAC Corporate Academy I used the summary approach frequently to harvest the posting gems and shared knowledge from the participating facilitators. At the beginning of each week I created a News forum posting that summarised the efforts of the group from the past week and highlighted the tasks coming up in the week ahead. This was done on a daily basis in the first two weeks, then dropped back to a less frequent posting of every second day. I attached a Tracking Sheet for each week that listed the activities, assignments, team work and forums featuring in that week – this was useful for participants to keep track of the requirements of the course and to than store that as evidence of completion.

At the end of each week’s forum discussions I posted a summary that reflected on the contributions from individuals and provided an overview of the work of the teams and the knowledge sharing of individuals. These were posted into the relevant forums to create a sense of facilitator presence. In some situations where the discussions were very busy, I posted these summaries mid week as well.

Later in the course I began to use a metaphor of a ‘cricket match’ for the summaries where the contributions from individuals were prefaced by such comments as:

… next up to bat was ‘name’ who sent the ball flying for a six to the boundary with this great comment ….
… ‘name’ bowled a fast ball down the pitch with this fabulous posting …
… some fine decision making by umpire ‘name’ as he provided this neat summary posting …

Within many of my posted summaries I would point to a shared directory in the Moodle environment where I had gathered up all the shared ‘articles’ from participants during that week’s topic. Several times I would also include an image that had been shared to illustrate a point in the posting.

At the end of the course I also gathered up all my ‘News’ postings, forum summaries and weekly instructions and added them to a Facilitator’s Manual which I had set up as a Book module with chapters for each week. This collection was intended as a quick method for other facilitators to view my harvesting strategies all in one place.

And now to answer those questions above!

  1. Who will use the summaries? Each and every individual participant in the course. The manager of the project. Myself.
  2. How will they use the summaries? Participants – quick summary reflections of the week; Manager – to monitor progress of the course; Me – to reflect on my own facilitation.
  3. What is the desired action outcome from summaries? A method of reflection that enables the highlighting of continuous improvement requirements.
  4. Are they open to critique and discussion? Always.
  5. Will it be used to check agreement and understanding? Yes
  6. Will it be a collection of ideas or a synthesis and reflection of the discussion? Yes
  7. Where will they reside? (website, summary page, etc.) Posted directly into the course in Moodle.
  8. What format will be most useful to the users (lists, action plan, narrative, story, images, mind map, etc.) A variety of these depending on the purpose and place in the course.

Note: it is always a good idea to have someone else provide a summary of the course, from a different perspective – that of a participant – and to balance that with the summary of the course by the facilitator. That will be a critical task for the end of the course!

Another part of the harvesting role of the facilitator is in gathering the latest ‘news’ or ‘blogs’ or ‘articles’ that have relevance for the participants in the course. This will be the topic of my next post.



Author: coachcarole

Coach Carole is the name by which many of you will know me - in my role as coach and mentor for teachers, project teams and networks facilitators. I work independently as an elearning consultant for my business Macro Dimensions.

2 thoughts on “eFacilitate: the harvesting role (part 1)

  1. Hi Carole – I am a bit late seeing this post of yours, but I am really interested in the topic. These days I am facilitating a sales course for GAC, and have been using the idea you presented of “summaries” to capture the learning each week and present it back to the participants. In this case because they are all sales people and the course is very technically involved with techniques in sales, the summaries capture some real gems of experience. It has been difficult to summarise a lot of it, so often I just add a selection of the responses in a document and present it back to them at the end of the week.

    This has had a few really great results. the first is that the participants really feel like they are being validated, and it has created (I think) an incredible sense of momentum and enthusiasm in the course. It has also made me appear as perhaps a more involved facilitator than i really am (haha) and it has been a fantastic thing to present to senior management to show what is coming out of the course, how good it is for developing sales skills, and also contains some good feedback about how the current systems are working (or not working).

    Overall i am totally in love with this way of facilitating – making summaries at the end of each week.

    Many thanks to you for introducing this to me Carole!


  2. Hi Danielle, great to know that summarizing has been so empowering. I really like this kind of facilitating asynchronous discussions for the same reasons. It a
    So helps to create that credible online presence that elearners crave from their facilitator. CC