Online Group Facilitation

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Online Group Facilitation Finds a Foundational Set of International Competencies. As an emerging profession, group facilitation has yet to develop a significant body of quality-assured research knowledge. A key challenge for the field and professional group facilitators in the International Association of Facilitators is that research on groups often focuses on team composition and task activities. As yet, the key questions on how to effectively lead and facilitate global virtual teams through group process continues to be an area full of research possibilities. This is where Dr. Stephen Thorpe has been hard at work, particularly addressing the area of facilitated group process in global virtual teams.

Because the nature of group work is itself being transformed everyday through the rising use of internet-enabled technologies, Dr. Thorpe’s research has focused on a range of novel online approaches to achieve group success, including the use of storytelling as a team building process in online groups. In 2012, Dr. Thorpe presented a first-of-its-kind paper on online facilitator competencies at the First International Forum on International Academic Programmes in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. The work, soon to be published in Group Facilitation, focused on synthesizing a foundational set of online facilitator competencies. It represents the culmination of four years work for Dr. Thorpe, involving over 60 practicing group facilitators from 13 countries – all engaged in deep discussions on what skills make up a competent online facilitator.

The research offers future guidance for efforts to improve the effectiveness of those leading and facilitating online groups and will further inform the International Association of Facilitator’s Core Facilitator Competencies and Certified Professional Facilitator programme.

By Stephen Thorpe

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