How do you change from being a sage-on-stage to a guide-on-the side?

Are you keen on making sure you treat adult learners… well, like adults? Are you good at it in face-to-face workshops but somehow you find this more challenging online and it shows in your participation rates?

You’re not alone. I’ve seen some of the most humble, kind and warm people struggle with this. I have observed how people who use great participatory approaches in face-to-face workshops suddenly turn into know-it-all experts online, even if they really don’t intend to. The magic is gone. Participants disengage. The facilitator is unhappy because “online facilitation isn’t for them”.

The ‘sage-on-stage’ versus ‘guide-on-the-side’ is a useful concept to look at what is going on there. A ‘sage on stage’ is an instructor who lectures almost exclusively, who has the philosophy that s/he has knowledge to ‘give’ learners who would benefit from this.  On the other hand, a ‘guide on the side’ is a facilitator who helps learners discover knowledge and steer them in ways that would help them.

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