This week I co-faciliated the discussion on Assessment. It was a really interesting week to lead a discussion on because assessment is such a multifaceted topic. The pragmatic parts of the discussion were around the logistics of assessment in an online environment. Some of the more critical discussion points were around the purpose of assessment and the ethics of data collection and use. I found summarizing the week to be really interesting because it was easy to identify themes and similar thought patterns amongst the students.
However, the most interesting part of facilitating a discussion in another lecturer’s course is that it creates a unique role in the course – the parameters of the activity are already established and the purpose of facilitating is to “acquire the skill to perform by actually engaging in the process [of discussion-based CMC], under the attenuated conditions of legitimate peripheral participation” (Hanks, 1991, p. 14). However, because the community of practice is that of a teacher, participating in this activity also contributes to teacher presence and cognitive presence within the community because we have more accountability for the discussion questions and guiding the discussion, which impacts other initiates of the community. This kind of meta-relationship is interesting and, I think, unique to a educational community of practice. There are definitely tensions that need to be resolved between the transformation of us from learners to experts in this community, and the transformation of the culture as a result of renegotiation with new members. This is particularly true in this case where the content for the week was critical and needed to fulfill a specific purpose for the course (setting students up to reflect on their own assessment tools for their assignment).
For me, this also allowed me to reflect on some of the challenges in team teaching environments, particularly in large team environments such as the MD program. In our program, the theme lead or week lead sets the pace, content, and structure of activities or lectures. The co-facilitators often then are simply delivering another instructors’ content. Similar to how an absence of choice and voice can result in lower student engagement in learning activities, this pseudo-role is very likely what causes low faculty engagement in the activities and in the curriculum development.