Establishing Good Working Conditions

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Revision as of 06:21, 2 May 2022 by Nils.zimmermann (talk | contribs) (Reflection for Facilitators)
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The more diversity there is within a group, the greater the potential for exchange, inspiration and learning from peers. People however are only willing to activate this potential if they feel safe and respected. Therefore before engaging more deeply with the content of a seminar, facilitators establish appropriate ground rules based on basic democratic and human principles. When facilitators demonstrate that they take the democratic principles they are promoting seriously through their actions, this raises the feasability that participants will as well.

Ground for Trust

Trust is a condition for that people feel safe and empowered to involve. Especially in heterogeneous groups in which participants and facilitators may feel uncertain the facilitation needs to build a ground for trust development.


Trust is the certainty that at any stage of the shared learning process, everything will happen according to the values of mutual respect, autonomy, and personal freedom.

This necessitates that everyone is allowed and free to monitor his or her own goals and needs and decides what to do based on these values.


Trust may develop when people are informed or if they can inform themselves about the motivations, goals and decisions of others. Only those individuals who have all the relevant information can and want participate in an optimal way. This includes transparency in terms of our motivations and goals as facilitators and of the institution providing learning. The second important aspect of transparency is clarity about conditions and rules on how to work together.

Negotiating Rules and Conditions

Both facilitators and participants have certain rules in mind, which is fine. But even if as facilitators we think that our rules might be the best for the group, what makes us think that way? Instead of imposing rules on participants, participatory learning processes enable participants to discuss their wishes for rules and goals and expose facilitators to negotiating them.

Digital Facilitation

Digital seminar rooms must follow the same rules as real rooms. But it's harder for trainers and learners to keep track of all these things. This makes preparation all the more important, which serves to consider how to still get the breadth of information needed to facilitate respectful and needs-based collaboration with the limited means that a given platform offers.

Moreover, it is not easy to transfer spaces that would be given in classic trainings to the digital - for example, creating spontaneous spaces where trainers do not have access, tolerating lateness, allowing side conversations to some extent. Digital tools are often constructed from the teacher's perspective. How can we put it more in the hands of the participants? Perhaps also by using multiple tools for different purposes instead of having everything take place in one platform.

Reflection for Facilitators

How do you observe,

  • that all participants are atentive?
  • if somebody feels uncomfortable?
  • that their feel their needs are respected?
  • that they agree with the common rules?
  • how do they show resistance or that they disagree?
  • conflicts or respectless behaviour among participants?
  • that participants are overwhelmed?
  • that participants are underchallenged?

What kind of instruments can you offer?

  • opportunities to express (in the digital for instance, chat, whiteboard, anonymous messages)
  • information and collaborative planning
  • communication and collaboration with and without you

Nils-Eyk Zimmermann

Nils-Eyk Zimmermann

Editor of Competendo. Coordinator of the project DIGIT-AL Digital Transformation in Adult Learning for Active Citizenship. Secretary of the DARE network. Topics: active citizenship, civil society, digital transformation, non-formal and lifelong learning, capacity building. Blogs here: Blog: Civil Resilience. Email: