3 Thoughts about Digital Facilitation

Original Thought: My first thought (probably not surprising) is to do with the fact that teachers around the world were thrown into becoming digital facilitators this year. For some, the transition was smooth yet for others known as digital visitors, it was quite a challenge. Observing my peers making the transition was quite interesting. Some of them didn’t think they could manage it and considered quitting their jobs, but it didn’t take long for them to adjust and become comfortable.


New thought: I now believe that most facilitators can transition to teaching online with ease. The basic principles remain the same, however some research is advantageous. I suggest keeping Dunlap and Lowenthal’s (2018) recommendations for teaching online in mind. They highlighted four recommendations to be successful: to bolster students’ achievements, to be clear and concise, to establish CoI presences, and to be well prepared.


Original Thought: My second thought comes after reading Bernard Bull’s Eight Roles of an Effective Online Teacher (2013). While I do agree with his point of view, I think it also depends on different online learning environments. The roles that a digital facilitator in a Master’s degree program for instance takes on are different than those for an EFL teacher to adolescents such as myself.


New thought: I have learned that although Bull’s recommendations are sound, that you don’t have to wear all eight hats in each course in order to be a success.


Original Thought: My third thought is in regards to learning activities that can be performed in face-to-face learning environments versus online. It seems to me that Vaughan, Cleveland-Innes, and Garrison (2013) claim that certain activities are meant to take place in one environment or the other, however I disagree. As a facilitator, there are several activities that I have used both in person and online such as lecture, debate, games, and audio/video clips. They can be adjusted to suit one, the other, or both.


New thought: I still feel the same way about most activities being able to transition to online learning, although I have learned that more thought should be put into “instructor presence” in digital learning, especially in online discussions. The Centre for Teaching Excellence, University of Waterloo (n.d.) indicates that in order to establish your instructor presence, you should direct the learners’ discussion by giving examples, asking follow-up questions, and linking posts.


2 Questions about Digital Facilitation


I wonder if after facilitating online and having access to student data, do some facilitators feel differently about the role of Big Brother as mentioned in Bull’s Eight Roles of an Effective Online Teacher (2013) and see it as being more advantageous rather than the negative connotation it usually has.


My second question is what do you think are the pros of cofacilitating online?



1 Metaphor/Simile about Digital Facilitation


An online teacher is a juggler. An online facilitator must think of all the things a face-to-face teacher is responsible for while constantly checking-in with oneself to ensure he/she is establishing all three CoI presences at all times.





Bull, B. (2013). Eight Roles of an Effective Online Teacher. Faculty Focus. Retrieved from https://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/online-education/eight-roles-of-an-effective-online-teacher/


Dunlap, J. C., & Lowenthal, P. R. (2018). Online educators’ recommendations for teaching online: Crowdsourcing in actionOpen Praxis10(1), 79–89. Retrieved from



University of Waterloo (n.d.). Online Discussions: Tips for Instructors. Centre for Teaching Excellence, University of Waterloo. Retrieved from https://uwaterloo.ca/centre-for-teaching-excellence/teaching-resources/teaching-tips/alternatives-lecturing/discussions/online-discussions-tips-for-instructors


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). Retrieved from