Getting Online: The GO Project


Online Facilitation

Online Facilitation Skills

The most important skill that you will need as an online learning facilitator is communication. Whether the course you are facilitating is synchronous or asynchronous, text-based or audio-based, is two hours long or six months long, you will be communicating with participants. Depending on your responsibilities as a facilitator, you may be emailing or speaking with participants before the course starts as well as during actual delivery. You will be encouraging them to participate, answering their questions, providing them with content, engaging them in activities, encouraging their participation and possibly marking or commenting on assignments. How you communicate with your online participants is one of the most important indicators of success of your online course. If participants feel that they are being ignored or that your communication is unclear, for example, they are not likely to think that your course was a valuable learning opportunity.

As a facilitator, another key skill that you will need is the ability to engage participants with the online content. Unless your role is strictly that of an expert imparting a body of knowledge, you will be encouraging participants to interact with you and with each other to explore and understand content. Effective facilitation is about learner-centred, rather than teacher-centred, education and training. Luckily, many online learning technologies provide a wide array of tools for participants to actively engage in learning.

Another skill you will need is time management. If you are facilitating a synchronous online course, can you deliver all of the learning content and include all of the activities that you have planned for? You will need to structure your course to allow enough time to cover all of the material you want to get through. It can be very frustrating for participants to feel rushed at the end of an online session. If you are facilitating an asynchronous course, have you allowed enough time to log on regularly, respond to posts, update any materials, mark assignments, etc.? Online facilitation can become very time-consuming, particularly in asynchronous settings, so you will want to be sure to practice good time management so that you don't find yourself spending countless late-night hours responding to participants.

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