Facilitating online

Online courses that are fully asynchronous, or have an asynchronous element, need mindful facilitation to be successful.

Facilitation is the process of enabling a group to accomplish its goals. In an asynchronous course, this means ensuring the online experience of all participants is one of enriched learning, optimized by high levels of interaction and collaboration.

In a nutshell, your job as faculty is to make it easier for a group to do its work by maintaining a healthy online community. The following tips will help you to succeed.

Tips for asynchronous facilitation

Here are practical tips to help you when facilitating an asynchronous course.

  • Strive to create community. Establish a friendly, supportive environment through welcoming posts, frequent interaction and a place for fun as well as work in the learning forums.
  • Develop the art of asking expansive questions, which draw out conversation and provide opportunities for participants to interact.
  • Provide meaningful activities and assignments that solve or address problems students will face in their work and lives.
  • Establish clear participation guidelines and expectations.
  • Be clear about how participation will be evaluated and how it fits into the course's grading scheme.
  • Step in if participation is waning or is heading in the wrong direction.
  • Be a good role model by accessing the course on a daily basis.
  • Let participants know your timeline to answer questions (i.e., establish virtual office hours).
  • Approach people who are not participating to reengage them. Speak to them by phone, email or video conference to draw them back into discussions.
  • Be careful with your wording when giving feedback in a public forum. Critical comments can come across as more forceful when written down and shared for all to see.
  • Direct questions and discussions about course content through the course website, but use email, phone or web conferencing to talk to participants about personal issues.
  • Ask learners for feedback halfway through the course. Ask them what is working, what is not, and how you might better meet their needs.