While online learning can offer great opportunities for self-directed learning and flexibility, sometimes you need to have a human (or a team of humans) on the other side to encourage, guide, and create opportunities for connection and deeper learning. This is where facilitators come in.
Course facilitation includes everything involved in running a course, from administrative tasks to the kinds of tasks that a traditional classroom facilitator would do.
A facilitator, or team of facilitators, may use a number of different strategies to engage learners in an online learning environment. Facilitators that are available and accessible to learners are a crucial part of a learner’s journey. Humanized content, being able to convey concepts in meaningful ways, and using multiple engagement methods improves learners’ sense of community and feeling of connectedness to the content and the course. Effectively facilitating an online course can also be very rewarding for the facilitator(s).
For more details, see the Expanded Version of this Quickstart Guide!
Considerations & Best Practices
- Decide how you’re going to facilitate your course fairly early on; it may not change your course design significantly, but it could change it to some degree!
- To whom on your team should learners reach out if they have questions or trouble with the platform? A central mailbox? A specific person?
- How often & how thoroughly will your team moderate the discussion boards?
- How often & thoroughly will they review assignment submissions for feedback?
- Will your teaching team be conducting live webinars?
- Will they be acting as mentors to a group of learners?
- Will they be moderating the Team and Group workspaces? (If you have them)
- Will someone review feedback survey results to adjust later modules even as the course runs? How about after the course finishes?
- Block time on your calendar daily or several times a week to help you prioritize facilitation.
- Review course data on a regular basis (perhaps weekly) to get a feel for what’s happening.
Troubleshooting & Questions
Course admins are the first point of contact for all learner questions. Make sure learners have a clear understanding of how to reach you with any questions or issues.
If a course admin is unable to resolve a technical or platform issue, the admin can forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org for troubleshooting. Please include the course URL and details on what’s happening and what was already tried to resolve the issue.
Ways to Incorporate
Here is a sample engagement plan for one week of a cohort-based course that is run for multiple weeks. Feel free to customize it for your course.
For self-paced offerings, you may be doing less facilitation.
Analytics & Data Downloads
The NovoEd platform automatically tracks an amazing amount of data on every course that is run. All you need to do is access that data, and there are two ways to do so:
- Use the Analytics page to get a snapshot of key engagement metrics in your course.
Use the Data Downloads page to create custom reports and pull more detailed data.
Best Practices for Facilitation
These articles contain best practices for facilitating social online courses:
- Everything you need to know about online facilitation: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
- Designing a Participant Engagement Plan to Maximize Learning
- Pre-course Communications: 4 Tips to Drive eLearning Engagement
- 5 Ways to Build a Successful Online Learning Community
- 3 Email Intervention Examples to Re-Engage Learners In Your Online Courses
Platform “How-To” Documents
Here are a few articles from our Help Desk Website that you can refer to after your onboarding for any questions on how to do common facilitation tasks: