Top 10 Strategies for Effective Facilitation of Online Professional Development
Presenter: Liz Farmer, Ed Tech Leaders Online
I was a little disappointed with this session. The facilitator spent the first half of the session talking about the services that her company offers, and squeezed the tools and techniques sharing into the last half-hour of the session. She had a lot of helpful hints to offer, I wish that she had spent more time sharing her experiences.
Top 10 Strategies
The following are some of the effective facilitation techniques that Ms. Farmer shared.
- Make everyone feel welcome and herd â€“the first week of an online session should be dedicated to participants sharing information and gaining a comfort level with the online environment. It is important for the facilitator to respond to each persons posting in a timely fashion during the first week. This can help participants gain a since of being heard. Once the group has gained a comfort level with the environment facilitator responses donâ€™t have to be as frequent.
- Establish clear goals and expectations â€“ this can be accomplished through email, posting examples of deliverables, posting frequent announcements. Halfway through the course provide checklist of what has been accomplished and what still needs to be done. Also provide individual feedback — this will assure that the students know they are noticed.
- Provide behind the scenes support â€“ phone calls, emails, or face-to-face meetings to keep the students on track and involved.
- Foster communication between participants â€“ important to step back and let dialog happen between students. If the facilitator posts to early in an online discussion it may squash communication.
- Model participation and discussion techniques for participants.
- Keep the discussion alive â€“ early postings can be turned into a question to stimulate additional discussion. If there is a lack of participation in the online discussions send emails and/or post announcements about participation, or possibly rephrase a question drawing attention to an existing posting.
- Keep the discussion on topic â€“ allow for moments when participants can go off topic by providing a specific forum or thread for non-topic sharing.
- Guide participation through the curriculum â€“ offer instructions on where to find materials and how to use the tools. At the end of discussions provide a summary of what has been discussed. This will help focus the online participants.
- Make sure the audience and the curriculum are in sync â€“ early in the course find out the participantsâ€™ strengths, weaknesses and expectations. The findings can help determine if the course materials need to be revised.
- Bring closure to each session before moving on to the next one by summarizing what was accomplished and identifying the next steps.