3 strategies for each presence

      Learning context: Our program has a new series of Virtual Parenting Workshops (via Zoom).
I was asked If I wanted to help with facilitating. After learning that
I would not be involved in creating the structure or content for these workshops and that I would have little to no influence on how they are run, I decided not to. I saw the previous edition and while the workshops (especially in-person ones) were informative, they did not suit my style. They were conducted as if students came to learn from an instructor, instead of parents learning from a parent and from each other. If I had an opportunity to improve the workshops, I’d use these strategies, adopted from the Community of Inquiry theory.  

Canva infographic

Social Presence

  • Mirror individual/group mood/situation (inspired by Bull(2013))
    Usually, parenting workshops run weekly, they have a predetermined topic, as well as content and activities based on that topic, regardless of what the individual participants are going through at the moment. I would connect with the group/individuals first and then customize the activities/content based on what’s relevant.
  • Use humour (dad jokes) (inspired by Lalonde (2020))
    Usually, parenting workshops mimic a classroom atmosphere, it’s too dry and too formal for my style. I’d incorporate humour to warm up the group and connect with them on an emotional level since teaching parenting is less about information transfer and more about modelling a way of being. And humour is not just a way to connect with the audience, it’s also a great coping mechanism for daily struggles that most parents face.
  • Incorporate role-playing (inspired by Boettcher (n.d.))
    Usually, parenting workshops are all about information transfer, while relying on large/small group/individual experiences in role-playing is not only more fun but it’s also more effective.

Teaching Presence

  • Ask for informal feedback (inspired by Boettcher (n.d.))
    Usually, parenting workshops are set up as one-way communication and there is very little real-time feedback from participating parents
  • Be authentic/vulnerable (inspired by Bull(2013))
    Usually, facilitators of parenting workshops act as all-knowing experts, close-to-perfect parents and fear being vulnerable, admitting flaws, mistakes and shortcomings. Most parents want to learn from someone relatable and don’t want to feel like crappy parents in comparison to someone else.
  • Normalize uncertainty & making mistakes (inspired by Lalonde (2020))
    Usually, when facilitators do not acknowledge their own mistakes and not knowing what to do, participants also follow suit and miss opportunities to learn.

    Cognitive Presence

    • Share your own struggles (inspired by Bull(2013))
      It helps you learn from other parents, while you model being a co-learner, a parent that never stops learning. 
    • Connect theory & personal stories (inspired by Boettcher (n.d.))
      Connecting theory to personal stories helps parents find personal meaning in theoretical knowledge.
    • Seek/discuss a resolution to previously shared challenges(inspired by Lalonde (2020))
      Usually, parenting workshops move on to another topic next week and never follow up on anything that was discussed last week. Parents need an opportunity to apply new ideas as they seek a resolution to their ongoing issues.


Boettcher, J. V. (n.d.). Ten Best Practices for Teaching Online. Design for Learning. http://designingforlearning.info/writing/ten-best-practices-for-teaching-online/

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

Lalonde C. (2020) Facilitating in a Community of Inquiry video (11:20)

One thought on “3 strategies for each presence

  1. I love the context you’ve chosen for this, Denys. While I haven’t attended a parenting workshop (because I’m a perfect parent who won’t admit he needs help), you’ve painted a clear picture of the issues of the current style and what you’re trying to fix. It is a unique context because, as opposed to many academic contexts, attendees probably already have many experiences they can bring to the discussion.

    Your context also helped me see different perspectives of my own learning scenario. In parenting, I would never assume that one person has all the answers, though they may have answers that I don’t have. On the flip side, I find that in post-secondary my students assume that I *do* have all the answers and I have to make an effort to ensure they see that this is not the case. I think that incorporating some of your points here — such as normalizing mistakes and sharing my struggles — would help my students to see this.

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