Be an Online Learner
As an online facilitator, have you ever taken an online course? If you haven't, you might want to sign up for a course. This can help you to understand how participants in your course might feel, especially if you join a course that uses technology you are not familiar with. You can also observe the approach that online facilitator uses and perhaps borrow a trick or two! For some online learning ideas, be sure to check out our Tips for Online Learners module.
Once you have created your online course, have several trusted colleagues field test it for you. Are your instructions clear? Do links work? Is there a logical flow to information and activities? Do the activities relate to the learning content? Are the activities engaging? Does the technology work the way it should? Can potential participants easily navigate through the course and understand what they should be doing? If you are using text, have it reviewed for spelling and grammar.
Develop learning activities that address a variety of learning styles. This can be done by making use of different approaches to delivering the content. Thanks to the growth of online learning technology, particularly Web 2.0 technology, online learning offers a number of ways that you can incorporate activities for virtually all learning styles. For example, you can include text, video presentations and/or audio presentations to meet the preferences of visual learners. You can include audio podcasts for those who learn best by listening. You can include "how-to" videos to provide a demonstration of a specific skill that participants can follow while learning that skill for those who prefer to learn by doing. By including something for everyone, online learning participants can pick and choose the type of resource they prefer, or they can look, listen to and try out everything! For more information about some of the technology that is available for you to use, be sure to see the Technology module on this website.
You will find that some online participants are eager to jump in and join the discussion. Others will be quieter and won't speak up or post very often, if at all. Their silence does not necessarily indicate that they aren't learning or aren't interested, it may simply mean that is their preference. Just like in face-to-face facilitation, not everyone in a course will actively participate. If participants are logging in regularly to an asynchronous course or if you can see they are in the virtual classroom in a synchronous course, you probably have their attention; if not, they probably wouldn't log in or would exit the classroom.