Tomorrow's Teaching and Learning
The excerpt below discusses the role of faculty as e-moderators, and
the resulting ability to foster better on-line learning communities.
It is from: E- MODERATING The Key to Teaching and Learning Online, by
Copyright ? Gilly Salmon, 2000, Stylus Publishing, 22883 Quicksilver Dr.
Sterling, VA 20166. Reprinted with permission.
UP NEXT: Making Changes in the Post-doctoral Experience
Tomorrow's Teaching and Learning
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E-MODERATING - AND ITS ROLE IN TEACHING AND LEARNING ON-LINE
E- MODERATING The Key to Teaching and Learning Online
by Gilly Salmon.
WHAT IS E-MODERATING? (p. 3)
This book is set in the context of the rapid development of
Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Its key focus and
emphasis is on the changes to learning made possible by ICT, but I
look at these changes through the eyes of online teachers, for whom I
have used the term "electronic moderators" - "e-moderators". This
chapter introduces e-moderating to you and explores the contexts and
environments in which it thrives.
The term "online" came from the days of the telegraph, when messages
could be tapped directly onto the line rather than prepared "offline"
on perforated tape, for sending when the machine was connected later
to the telephone line. Today, "online" covers a range of
technologies. In education and training, technologies that
concentrate on computer mediated communication are commonest. They
fall into three broad categories as defined by Santoro (1995):
1. Informatics, particularly involving electronic access via
telecommunications to catalogues, library resources, interactive
remote databases and archives, including those on the World Wide Web.
2. Computer-assisted instruction, also known as computer-assisted
learning and computer-based training, which may or may not require
3. Computer-mediated conferencing, which is the medium, based on
computers and telecommunications, that is explored throughout this
book and within which e-moderators do much of their work with
A moderator is a person who presides over a meeting. An e-moderator
presides over an electronic online meeting or conference, though not
quite in the same ways as a moderator does. Computer-mediated
conferencing (CMC) actually requires the e-moderators to have a
rather wider range of expertise, as I shall explain and demonstrate.
CHANGING LEARNERS AND LEARNING TO CHANGE (Ch 6, pp. 90-93)
The learners of the near future will be what Greg Dyke, current
Director-General of the BBC, calls the "playstation generation". They
will be accustomed to highly immediate, interactive, visual
electronic resources. They will want learning that is:"Just in time,
just for me, just a keystroke, just for now" (Spender, 1999).
In future, even more than in the past, the kind of businesses and
organizations that develop, and how people earn and spend, will be
intrinsically bound up with how and what people learn. The pressure
on educational institutions to respond to rapidly evolving business
environments will build up (DiPaolo, 1999). Career switches will be
frequent and training and education a constant and lifelong
requirement. Distinctions between work and learning will blur.
Cosmopolitan communities will create openness about race and belief,
with less hierarchy and with members who desire to learn more widely
scattered and less formal sources. Long-living, long-working,
independent learners will be mobile and pragmatic. They will become
comfortable and skilful in choosing from a vast electronic array of
opportunities. The idea of a requirement for qualifications to enter
courses will seem to be quaint (Spender, 1999). As students and
informal learners become more discerning, they may start to demand
control not only over when and where they learn, but also over the
content (Young and Marks-Maran, 1999).
Skills need for work and learning will embrace self-direction
together with a willingness to support others, the ability to work in
multi-skilled teams (which are likely to operate without regular
meetings), to co-operate rather than compete, to handle information
(rather than know everything) and to become critical thinkers
(Salmon, 1996b). Regy Loknes, Senior Learning and Development Advisor
for Shell, explains that a change of learning mindset is needed. He
wants future recruits to be able to "know how they learn, know what
they need to learn and be open and receptive to learning from others
without negative responses or criticism" (Loknes, 2000).
CMC's characteristics are those of openness and participation but
achieving learning outcomes through CMC works best within structured
programmes and with careful and frequent e-moderation. Most
professional education and training to date has focused on discrete
courses. In the OUBS and most of the case studies in this book, the
teaching processes were quite strictly scheduled. They began at a
certain time, with learning and assessment methodologies built in,
and they finished with tests or examinations. Within the programmes,
along the way, participants experienced small successes, which they
deemed to be very important. Will future education include such
discrete structured courses? As individuals become more and more
networked, they demand very much smaller "chunks" of relevant
learning, backed up by connections and explorative opportunities with
like-minded others. The assessment of knowledge and competence then
becomes an issue as I indicate later in this chapter. Charles
Jennings offers us a radical view of the professional learner of the
There is a distinct trend away from "courses" towards performance
support models in professional development. I think that CMC
environments will be important in this new "knowledge-driven" world.
However, these CMC environments will overwhelmingly be used for
formal "courses". The conference e-moderator will transmogrify into
the online mentor and support agent? the online conference will
evolve into a self-structuring searchable knowledge-base, and
learning peers will become fused into a "permanently on" digital
world. We won't just access this through our computers, but through a
wealth of digital devices including our telephones, our wristwatches,
our Personal Digital Assistant (PDA), and even our household
But whatever happens to course and programme structures, we can be
sure that the human factor - the role of the e-moderator - will be
critical in the acceptability and success of online learning
communities. Who otherwise will support newcomers to a body of
knowledge or practice? Newcomers might otherwise treat, with equal
deference, bizarre as well as sane contributions and the tendentious
in addition to well-evidenced pieces of information.
Interaction for online knowledge construction gets to the heart of
what most CMC participants consider important. They feel intuitively
that knowledge is not just about data or information but is much
richer, broader and linked with personal experience in complex ways.
In a world where knowledge is the key resource for the future, a
primary ingredient of everything "we do, we make, buy and sell"
(Stewart,1997), the issue of how it can be surfaced and articulated
for learning will become even more important. Links between learning
and knowledge management systems will be made more explicit. I
anticipate that understandings of the social origin of psychological
processes (Vygotsky,1978) and how these occur in the online
environment will grow through research. The role of the university
will change from "ivory tower" to "market place", from sole provider
of knowledge to synergizer of multiple sources (Haddad, 2000).
Professor Tim O'Shea, Master of Birkbeck College, University of
London, suggests that research-rich institutions will be those that
grow, thrive and have the most to offer to the networked world of
online learning. E-moderators will enable knowledge sharing, and,
wherever possible and appropriate, knowledge generation.
Online learning communities and associations will not be based on a
sense of place but of purpose or profession and more emphasis will be
placed on building trust, resolving conflict and solving problems. As
Dr Andy DiPaolo of Stanford Center of Professional Development says:
E-moderation for creating a sense of a learning community is the key
to success!?we should help learners to truly feel part of their
course, to feel special and to experience a unique and integrated
world around the topic under study. They can join a discussion group
with active professionals from the field, they can undertake
electronic field trips, and they can engage in activities
orchestrated by a skilled e-moderator which will make the experience
of learning both richer and more relevant to the world of work.
Individuals will develop skills in socializing in many different ways
simultaneously and be able to adopt appropriate roles online.
Cross-cultural awareness stimulates recognition of the need to
understand cognitive processes better, to become more receptive and
more accepting of differing intellectual styles and modes of thought
and to reduce the arrogance sometimes associated with traditional
thinking. Groups from very different understandings, backgrounds,
cultures and "voices" (Latchem and Lockwood, 1998) will learn
together and gain access to competing or contradictory ideas. A major
role for e-moderators will be to enable surfacing, understandings,
and collaboration across cultures.
Globally, 700 million people use English, with half of these with
English as their second language. Significantly for CMC, English has
become the main language of the Internet. In the future, we will need
to understand better the impact of using English online. Does the use
of English imply acceptance of certain cultural traditions? In the
United Kingdom, for instance, the model of teaching and learning is
based on the acceptance of a certain level of independence. Other
cultures' teaching traditions may give the impression that the
"teacher is king", thus posing a challenge to e-moderators aiming for
democratic and collaborative approaches.
As the use of media other than onscreen text becomes commoner, will
the models change again? The implications for education as a whole
could be profound. In the more distant future, dramatic changes will
doubtless occur across a range of economic functions, new concepts of
space and time will be created, novel forms of communities will be
established and ultimately human thinking will change. The power of
CMC for learning could mould, shape and construct changes rather than
merely be responsive to them. The distances involved in like-minded
groups wishing to interact may finally defeat the notion of
"attending" for learning.
DiPaolo, A. (1999) Online education: Myth or reality? The Stanford
Online Experience, Proceedings of Online Educa, Berlin
Dipaolo, A (2000) Personal telephone conversation, 11th January
Haddad, W.D. (2000) Higher education: The ivory tower and the
satellite dish, TechKnowLogia, 2(1):www.techknowlogia.org
Jennings, C. (1999) personal e-mail, 19 December
Latchem, C and Lockwood, F. (eds) (1998) Staff Development in Open
and Flexible Learning, Routledge, London
Locknes, R.L. (2000) personal telephone conversation, 11 January
Santoro, G.P. (1995) What is computer-mediated communication?, in
'Computer -mediated Communication and the Online Classroom', eds ZL
Berge and MP Collins, pp 11-27, Hampton Press, NJ
Spender,D. (1999) Personal e-mail:, 17 December
Stewart, T. (1997) Intellectual Capitol, Nicholas Brealey, London
Vygotsky, L.S (1978) Mind in Society, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA
Young, G and Marks-Maran, D. (1999) A case study of convergence
between conventional and distance education, in The Convergence of
Conventional and Distance Education, eds A Tait and R Mills,
Routledge, New York