Assignment 1 – Top 5 Online Facilitation Tips/Strategies

In the above infographic, I list my top 5 tips/strategies for effective online facilitation. These past few weeks I have considered what good facilitation in general means and have found that while there are some similarities between face-to-face facilitation and online facilitation, there are a number of considerations that must be made for an online environment. I will now outline my top 5 tips/strategies, which while important for any good facilitation, are especially important in an online environment.

The first tip is knowing and teaching to the audience. This is important in any environment, but the online setting can be a greater divide which can make creating connections difficult. A facilitator should know as much as they can about the learner to be able to adapt to learner needs. Bull (2013) describes this role as ‘big brother’, as it can be necessary to make sure that learners are getting the most of their learning experience.

The second tip is being available and accessible. Availability can be hard to define without physical presence. Going up to a facilitator in a face-to-face setting is straight-forward, but contacting an online facilitator can be more difficult. Therefore a facilitator should clearly lay out their availability and show that they are present. By posting or emailing, a facilitator can show learners that they are around even without physical presence (Boettcher, 2013).

The third tip is having clear expectations and instructions. Even if a facilitator is fully accessible and available, learners need clear instructions and know what is expected of them. The structure of a course or presentation needs to be clear and relevant as context could be lost in an online environment (Dunlap & Lowenthal, 2018).

The fourth tip is being confident in your expertise and encouraging varying opinions. As a facilitator, you are the expert who guides the learners through the subject matter. Learners will be looking for confidence in the grasp of knowledge which can reassure the learner that they are in good hands. The other aspect of this role is to make sure that you are not intimidating the learner and be able to allow them to voice their thoughts and opinions even if they may be against the general thought. This is a balance between being the roles of ‘tour guide’, ‘learning coach’, and ‘valve control’ as coined by Bull (2013).

The final tip is using different mediums to present information. This tip is most relevant in an online environment, because motivation and keeping learners engaged can be a challenge. More activities that encourage interaction and reflections can create a community where there is inquiry learning that is full of peer support (Vaughan, Cleveland-Innes, & Garrison, 2013).

 

References

Boettcher, J. V. (2013). Ten Best Practices for Teaching Online.

Bull, B. (2013). Eight Roles of an Effective Online Teacher. Faculty Focus.

Dunlap, J. C., & Lowenthal, P. R. (2018). Online educators’ recommendations for teaching online: Crowdsourcing in action. Open Praxis, 10(1), 79–89.

Vaughan, N. D., Cleveland-Innes, M., & Garrison, D. R. (2013). Teaching in blended learning environments: Creating and sustaining communities of inquiry. Athabasca University Press. Chapter 3: Facilitation (pp. 45-61).

2 thoughts on “Assignment 1 – Top 5 Online Facilitation Tips/Strategies

  1. Hi George. Thanks for your post. We had a lot of commonalities in the top five tips that we chose to highlight, but one that you shared that piqued my interest was #1 – know and teach to your audience. When I first read it, I thought that you would dig into more of a needs analysis approach, but was interested to learn that you were also referring to leveraging learner analytics to support and motivate learners throughout the course. I love analytics, as I work in a corporate environment where the Board of Directors are influenced by clear metrics. When we learned more about data in LRNT 525 I was a bit shocked to hear how much of our learner data is accessible by our faculty. Did you have the same feeling? If so, you may find this tweet interesting: https://twitter.com/veletsianos/status/1040798488475267072. What are your thoughts on how much of our learner data is available? I’m all for it! After all, armed with our analytics, can’t our profs better support us? 🙂

    1. Hi Karen. Thanks for the comment. Analytics are great in getting accurate information from users. I’ve noticed in my work as well that learners can suffer from ‘survey fatigue’, which can affect the quality of the data. I often ask my superiors whether we should be collecting x and y data, but there are many considerations including relating to privacy. Should we be collecting these metrics? What will they be used for? Is the user/learner informed that this information is being collected? How will it be stored and for how long? The list goes on. I believe that if the experience can be enhanced and the above questions (and others) can be answered, then I think it’s a good use of data collection.

      Interesting that you brought up George’s tweet. The LMS at my organization has the functionality to allow instructors to track when the student last logged in along with how long they are on a web page. This has been very useful in checking whether students are doing the readings and gauging approximately how much time is necessary for an activity. We haven’t had a need for geo-data yet, but if we do find a need in the future…

      I now subscribe to the mantra of finding data for the need versus finding a need for the data. Much easier to justify things that way :).

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