Dialogue facilitators needed for an NSF research project in April

This message from NCDD member Tom Murray came my way tonight. Sounds like an interesting opportunity! – Sandy

We are looking for people who have some experience in dialogue facilitation and/or dispute mediation to facilitate online discussions during the first half of April. You will receive a modest stipend of $600 for helping us. No experience with online facilitation is required (though it is a plus, as is an ongoing interest in online facilitation or mediation). We will provide some training and materials related to the online aspect. Details are below.

Please respond by March 19th with a paragraph or two summarizing your experience/skill in facilitation/mediation and anything else you want to add concerning your interest in our project’s focus. Send to [email protected]. Optionally, you may also attach a resume.


Dr. Tom Murray, Senior Research Fellow and Project Manager
Prof. Beverly Wolf, Principal Investigator


– This is part of an NSF grant project at UMass studying the support of “social deliberative skills” in online contexts–info at www.tommurray.us/socialdeliberativeskills.

– During April 8th – 16th about 30 students in a UMass class will be engaged in a series of two online discussions (asynchronous), using discussion forum software that specifically supports more reflective thinking. We will give facilitators guidelines for non-intrusive discussion facilitation, such as sending students reminders, etc. Facilitators will need experience identifying when interventions may be helpful; although this is a relatively low ‘intervention’ activity. Facilitators are expected to log in at least once per day for 1-2 hours during the week. Depending on how many we have available (from 2 to 4), facilitators will be divided up as to which days and student subgroups to monitor. (If you are available only half of the week it may work out, but preference will be given to those available for the entire period.)

– During the Period of March 29 – April 5th we will have approximately two preparatory meetings with the facilitators to explain the software being used and discuss the facilitation approach. It is possible to have these meetings via Skype. Being local to UMass is not necessary. You will also be required to log in once or twice during this week to practice using the tools.

– We are developing a tool called a “Facilitator’s dashboard” which gives facilitators an overview of participation levels as well as flagging possibly notable posts that may need attention. Your job will be two-fold: (1) to facilitate and support the student discussions; and (2) to give us feedback and help us think about improvements to the facilitator dashboard.

– We will also convene facilitators for one or two meetings after the experience to debrief, dates to be determined (face-to-face or skype, to be determined). We will also ask you to keep notes about your facilitation experience.

Please pass this along to anyone you think may be interested. If you are not available for this opportunity but may be interested in future opportunities, feel free to send us information about you.

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