Workshop Outline

Site: SCoPE - BCcampus Learning + Teaching
Group: Facilitating Learning Online - FEB2015-OER
Book: Workshop Outline
Printed by: Guest user
Date: Sunday, 19 May 2024, 7:14 AM


FLO Workshop Outline - includes information on the scope and purpose, learning outcomes, participation guidelines course activities (including mini-session details!) and content.

Welcome to the FLO!

The FLO workshop introduces research-based adult and online learning concepts, principles and strategies that can make online facilitating fun and effective.

The course is designed to provide you with:

  • the experience of being in the students' shoes;
  • the opportunity to think about, practice and develop your online facilitation skills with other new and experienced online facilitators;
  • the opportunity to deepen your learning as you synthesize your observations, reading and online activities in your journal.

Like the face-to-face Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW), where participants plan and teach "mini-lessons", in FLO you will facilitate a learning activity ("mini-session") for your fellow FLO participants. Facilitation may be done individually or in small groups and can involve forums, wikis, polls, or other tools.

Feedback from past FLO participants indicates that this hands-on practice was key to their enjoyment of the course and the synthesis of their learning. We hope the same holds true for you!

In this course, you will:

  • facilitate, or co-facilitate, a learning activity on a pre-assigned topic;
  • integrate adult and online learning theories and principles into activities you facilitate;
  • experiment with a variety of learning-facilitation techniques and strategies;
  • give and receive constructive feedback;
  • work in online teams;
  • Reflect on, and plan how to apply, what you have learned to other courses and contexts.

Course Context and Purpose

The FLO workshop is meant to help you enhance skills needed to confidently and effectively facilitate online learning. It builds on the fundamental principles of the face-to-face Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW). These principles include:

  • participatory and learner-centred participants form a learning community and support each other's learning
  • a safe, respectful learning environment you will be encouraged to take risks, be creative, and learn from your mistakes
  • feedback-richyou will be encouraged to give and receive feedback with fellow participants
  • reflective practiceyou will analyze and critically reflect on the art of facilitation and your facilitation skills
  • relevant and meaningfulyou will explore the future application and transferability of your learning in this course

FLO Learning Outcomes

These learning outcomes are drawn from the fields of adult learning and online learning. We have selected a few key themes related to successful online facilitation. At the end of this workshop, you will be (better) able to apply these to your planning and teaching online.


Learning Outcomes
(participants will be able to...)

Where & how this shows up in the workshop 

Apply relevant principles & theory to support adult learners online

  • Identify instructional/design problems and propose solutions appropriate for adult online learners 
  • Design and facilitate online learning activities that accommodate diverse groups of adult learners online 
  • Use learning outcomes to guide activity design and evaluation
  • Mini-session topics
  • Your mini-session: designing, choosing tools, and facilitating
  • Engaging in reflective practice (journal nuggets, FLIF, forum discussions)
  • Readings: completing, reflecting, journalling, and sharing

Build & sustain online community

  • Recognize and assess community-building elements and strategies in the design of online learning activities and courses
  • Use appropriate strategies to support diverse communities of online adult learners
  • Mini session topics
  • Design features of this course that support community include: team work, Building Community forum, sharing "journal nuggets" weekly
  • Readings: completing, reflecting, journalling, and sharing

Manage the online course environment

  • Use appropriate strategies and tools to establish and maintain instructor presence, and support learning and community goals
  • Articulate rationale for instructional choices (including tool selection)
  • Attend to “general housekeeping” of the online environment
  • Work effectively with groups online (including recognizing group dynamics, and identifying opportunities to prevent or manage group conflict)
  • Mini-session topics
  • Your mini-session: how you begin, middle, and end it!
  • observing and reflecting on others' approaches to managing the online environment
  • Readings: completing, reflecting, journalling, and sharing


Use feedback and assessment strategies skilfully

  • Provide constructive, growth-oriented feedback to your peers
  • Critically reflect on feedback and course experiences to self-evaluate work and learning
  • Your mini-session: facilitating, receiving feedback from others, reflecting on it and submitting a reflection (FLIF)
  • Others' mini-sessions: providing feedback to others on their facilitation
  • self-assessing your participation

Note: If you are an instructional design geek, you might find this interesting:  the learning outcomes listed here are the ones that guide the FLO workshop (they apply to you as a learner, here). And, each mini-session has its own learning outcomes and assessment criteria (they apply to the participants of mini-sessions, and the facilitators of mini-sessions need to work with them). The FLO outcomes in italics (in case you were wondering) are those also found in the mini-session learning outcomes.

Participation Guidelines

FLO is a participatory and cohort-based course.

To derive maximum benefit, you need to participate fully in online activities and discussions.

FLO requires commitment on your part. We recommend that you set aside 8 - 15 hours per week for online activities and course readings. You can expect to spend more time during the week you are facilitating, and depending on the number of optional readings you do and how much effort you put into the activities. You should plan to log into the course several times each week (daily would be best).

If, for some reason (work, travel, etc.), you will be without online access for a day or two, please let the FLO facilitators and fellow participants know in advance. And, arrange to meet your participation requirements before or immediately after you get back online.

A Facilitation Tip

While we expect full participation from each other, the reality is that people have work, family, and community responsibilities that sometimes demand their attention and unexpectedly cause disruptions in their ability to participate in the course and in teamwork.

Acknowledging this fact and working with individuals in these circumstances is an important aspect of working with distance learners.

Offer the opportunity to complete the work before or immediately after an absence. In some cases, an alternate assignment or activity may be advised.

Participating in online discussions requires clear communication; your goal is to post succinct, pertinent, thought-full comments.

Your colleagues will appreciate postings that:

  • are relevant: on topic, relate to assigned readings
  • are brief, but dense: information dense (say a lot in the least number of words)
  • are well-crafted: clear, well-organized, logical
  • are respectful, culturally appropriate, and constructive
  • are connected, integrated, synthesized: readings, others' postings, and your experience is woven together
  • provide evidence of analytical thinking and/or critical reflection
  • bring in new new ideas or resources that enrich the discussion
  • advance the thinking, learning, and dialogue of the group

It's important we demonstrate presence to create a stronger online community. To develop your online presence, be active and aware of other participants in the class. You need not respond to each post, but do notice whether all posts are acknowledged by someone. Tending to team members' learning needs will enrich everyone's learning and the energy of the team.

An important aspect of participatory and cohort-based learning is group/team maintenance. For such courses to achieve their educational potential, students need to take care of each other and each other's learning. Replying to another student's post with a simplistic ”yes”, “I agree” or “good job” is rarely useful and can clutter up a discussion thread. Thinking of something new and substantive to say can be challenging, but it can also push you and deepen your own learning.

While each FLO learning activity may have different participation requirements, as a rule you should try to post at least two thoughtful, insightful or provocative messages per week, per activity.

In addition to this, please pay attention and contribute to the functioning and maintenance of the group. Be aware of any tension between group process and task completion. Work with your team to find a balance between discussing topics thoroughly and producing quality work efficiently.

A Facilitation Tip

As a facilitator, you may want to identify criteria that you will use to assess participants' participation. You can find examples of rubrics and how-to information in this reading from week 5: Assessing Online Participation (DOC).

Putting in the time to identify criteria and to develop a system or method, at the start of your course, will make your work easier when it comes to assessing participation in online discussions.

Privacy & Confidentiality

Trust is an essential part of a successful FLO. Our learning relies on the exchange of honest, constructive feedback, and we need to agree that our online learning environment will be private and confidential. Do not share content posted by participants without their permission.

During the workshop we often use social media and free online services to complete workshop activities. If you choose to include these services when you facilitate your mini-session, please ensure that you are familiar with the levels of privacy available, how the information will be stored and shared, and that any participants you involve are also aware of these important aspects. 

Thank you for doing your part.

FLO Learning Activities

The key learning activities in the FLO are:

  • Readings and Resources: You will find a combination of journal articles, blog posts, tip sheets and videos listed  in a document (book) near the top of each week's tab page.
    The focus and theme for each week is explained in a brief overview and you will find further explanation in the Readings and Resources.

  • Discussions and Activities
    • Your Mini-session: co-facilitating an online activity on an assigned topic, reflecting on the feedback you get, and completing/submitting a "FLIF" (Feel, Like, Improve, Feedback) reflection (you will co-facilitate one mini-session during the course)

    • Participating in online discussions and activities (others' mini-sessions)

    • Self-assessing your participation using a rubric or other method of your choice

    • Giving constructive and timely feedback to facilitators on their mini-sessions

    • Learning Journal: use a learning journal to reflect and record the what, so what and next steps you will take away from ISWO. And, share a "nugget" or two with everyone each week.

Mini-sessions: how to rock it

Recommend: view in "full screen" the blue icon with the 4 arrows on the bottom right

Mini-sessions: facilitating

Individually or with a partner or team, you will facilitate a learning activity ("mini-session") on a pre-assigned topic for your fellow FLO participants. (see the Schedule for this info). 

For each topic, we have provided a "Back Pocket Strategy" to help - this is essentially a little brainstorm of ideas that you may decide to use.  

Before your Mini-Session - Things to Think About:

  • Connect with your partner (if you have one) early to begin planning your approach. A mini-session planning forum is available each week. Use of that forum for your planning is optional. It is visible only to members of your facilitation team. However you may choose to make it visible to all participants; allowing others to peek in on planning-in-action discussions can contribute to everyone's learning.
  • In your planning, consider that some of your participants (like all adult learners) will prefer to work on the weekend, and some will prefer not to.

  • No matter how you decide to facilitate, the key is, how can you support your students to achieve the learning outcomes provided with your topic

  • As soon as possible, let the FLO facilitators know if you need any additional tools set up to support your mini-session activity (e.g., you may find you need a wiki, forum, special team permissions, etc.).

  • Plan for a strong clear start to your mini-session. Do a welcome message. Provide clear instructions, timelines, or other expectations you have. Ideally, introductory information like this will be online before your mini-session starts. This ensures your online presence is evident when participants "arrive", early birds can get a jump on things if needed, and no time is wasted.

  • If you have a partner, discuss if/how you'd like to split the workload  (e.g., alternate days, play different roles, focus on certain people, etc)

  • Think about how you're going to wrap up the activity. Think about a way to help participants synthesize their learning and come up with a "take home message".

  • During the mini-session you facilitate, you may receive feedback during the week or at the end of the week when participants are asked to post in the mini-session feedback forum. Remember that the feedback is intended to help you improve. You don’t have to agreed with it or change your behaviour. Take a breath and reflect briefly before you respond.

  • You may find that the value of the feedback increases if you ensure your full understanding by paraphrasing the information received and checking with the person who posted the feedback. If there are particular skills or facilitation techniques you want to improve, make sure to communicate with others so they can provide ongoing support.

During your Mini-Session

  • Facilitate as you see fit. Ideally you will come into it with a thoughtful plan containing well-reasoned instructional strategies, and it will all unfold beautifully! If it doesn't, adjust as you go!

  • Don't hesitate to contact your FLO facilitators for support during your mini-session. We're here to help!

After your Mini-Session: FLIF!

  • Remind your participants to use the mini-session feedback forum to provide you with feedback about the mini-session.

  • Complete your own online FLIF. An FLO facilitator will review and respond to your FLIF.

  • Celebrate - your mini-session is done!

A possible timeline

  • the weekend before your mini-session week: post instructions (including timelines) for your students. Make these extremely clear. 

  • Monday: ensure your strong instructor presence early. If there are student posts, respond - acknowledge, encourage, re-direct if needed. If there are NO posts, make a move: post a message that provides a nudge and/or check for understanding (it may be that they are unclear about how to proceed and are waiting for someone else to make the first move). 

  • late Thurs/Friday - wrap things up and remind participants to provide you with feedback

  • end of your week - reflect on feedback you received, submit your FLIF, ideallly by Sunday night so you'll be ready to actively contribute and support your peers in the next mini-session. 

Back Pocket Strategies


"Back Pocket Strategies" are suggestions, ideas, possibilities – not requirements. They are intended to help – not limit – your thinking and planning your mini-session facilitation approach.

You are encouraged to experiment and take risks in FLO, so please feel free to use some, all, or none of what you find in the Back Pocket Strategy for your topic to meet the outcomes and provide a positive learning experience for your participants.

Thinking about using (or designing) an activity?

You may be able to find or design an activity for your learners that engages them in discussion, enriches their learning experience, and addresses different learning styles or preferences.

It could be something they do together online (e.g., role playing), or it may be something they do offline and report back about (e.g., research, talk to others, view media, use a simulation, etc.) The following is a checklist to consider when choosing a learning exercise or activity. Ideally, you want your answers to fall within the shaded boxes.

Is the activity relevant to the context and the participant group? Does it relate to the Learning Outcomes? + -
Are you clear about your reasons for using this particular activity? + -
Given the participant group, is the activity likely to build relationships and trust? + -
Is the activity fun and/or engaging? + -
Is it possible that the activity might create barriers rather than trust and safety? - +
Could the activity produce an unproductive level of discomfort or embarrassment for some participants? - +
Is the activity placed at a point in the group development where participants are ready for this kind of group work? + -
Is the group capable of providing the kind of safety that is required for this kind of activity? + -
Do you have enough time to properly debrief this activity? + -

© Paula Beltgens, Used with permission.

Mini-sessions: participating

When you are not facilitating your own mini-session, you will be a participant in others' mini-sessions. Your role of participant is KEY!

During this time you are asked to:

  • Actively participate as a student. Please try to participate equally in all mini-sessions. This ensures all facilitators have an equal opportunity to practice their skills.

  • Provide timely and constructive feedback to the mini-session facilitators each week.
    • Here are some suggestions for providing effective feedback. Post your feedback to the forum thread created for each week's mini-session facilitators.
    • Aim to post at least one very specific thing the facilitators did well

This is a great opportunity for you to:

  • Really make a point of observing discussions unfold. What are you noticing (about how people respond to instructions? How fast/slowly the discussion advances? What's working? What's not? What might you use/avoid in your own online teaching? Jot these things in your journal.

  • Hone your skills and thinking around assessing online participation - one of the great dilemmas in online learning! How are people performing? 

  • Practice your skills in providing high-quality and meaningful feedback. How can you help facilitators and other participants learn from the experience? And what can you take away from the learning experience yourself?

Learning Journal

Learning JournalPart 1 - Journal and share weekly "nuggets" as we go...

We're fans of learning journals. We know that unless and until we actually jot notes as we go, notes that move "hey neat" ideas toward application and implementation, we often lose many of the details that could help us transform ideas/thoughts into action.

So, you're asked to record what you are learning and want to remember in the form of a journal.

As you go, you’ll encounter some readings that you think are terrific (and some...not so much).  You'll think some of your colleagues' ideas are brilliant (and some...not so much). Some of the teaching strategies and technology tools will resonate with you more than others. Get these thoughts down before they get jumbled with others and lose their usefulness to you.

You are welcome to use whatever format you like for your journal (blog, paper notebook, Google doc, etc) - it is your own journal, which you may keep private if you choose.

And, each week you share a short nugget from your journal each week in the Weekly Journal Share forum.  Here are some journal prompts that may be useful as you go: 

Suggested Weekly Journal Share Prompts
  • What do you take from this week's readings?  What holds special promise for your practice? Record key ideas, strategies, and resources.
  • Step back and consider the design and flow of ISWO this week. What is working? What isn't? (consider the selection and amount of reading, time expectations, learning activities, sequencing, instructions, amount of forum activity, etc)
  • What is one step or task that would help you implement one (or more) of your learnings this week? i.e., how can you go from thought to action?  
  • How is your participation in ISWO this week?  Give yourself a quick self-assessment in your journal (using a rubric if you chose one)..

Part 2 - Collect for Final Sharing Activity

During the last mini-session (Week 5), you'll be asked to participate in a final reflective activity called "Looking Back, Looking Forward". As you progress through the course, collect resources that you might use to illustrate or communicate your final reflections in a unique and creative way. That might include short videos, images (drawings or photographs), snippets of a particularly eloquent argument you put forward in a forum?

Self Assessment

One of the practical aspects of teaching and learning online is assessing participation. It’s an important topic, and so we’re going to “bookend” the FLO with it as follows:

  • At the beginning, you will choose a method to structure and guide your self-assessment of your own participation in the course. You may find rubrics helpful; there are examples provided or you can create your own. You may want to use a visual map or flowchart to highlight the important elements or behaviours you identify as important to evaluate.

  • Throughout the course, use the rubric (or your chosen method) to conduct some self-assessment about your participation. One way to ensure that you collect self-assessment information regularly is to integrate it with your weekly journal activity. You should contribute some reflections or thoughts about your self-assessment process to each Weekly Journal Share forum.

  • At the end, there will be a mini-session on this topic, facilitated by FLO participants. This will give you a chance to dig deeper and make plans for your future work online.

Choosing your self-assessment method is part of the early course activities and you will find some guidelines and examples there.

Roles of Your FLO Facilitators

Throughout the FLO, you'll notice that our role as course facilitators changes, depending on what's going on in the course.

In the beginning, we play a more active role in facilitating the learning activities, posing questions, and answering queries from you and your fellow participants. 

During week 2 onward, our role shifts to make way for you to lead the discussions and other activities (i.e., your mini-sessions). Our focus becomes supporting mini-session facilitators and participating in the feedback cycle (and, overall course management). 

Although we may not participate in the mini-sessions, we are actively monitoring the activity and seeking ways to enhance the learning opportunities available to you as mini-session facilitators and participants.

About the Workshop Content

The materials and design of this workshop build on the open educational resource that has been available through Royal Roads University (RRU) since 2005. The design is based on the Instructional Skills Workshop ( in that activities provide an authentic environment for faculty to learn about and practice skills related to facilitating and assessing learning. It is different from the face-to-face Instructional Skills Workshop in that all activities take place online, and are focused on online teaching and learning.

In September, 2013 the workshop was revised and implemented at BCampus - SCoPE for the first time. Since that date the FLO has been offered many times, awarding certificates to faculty and staff from B.C. post-secondary institutions across the province.

In February 2015, the name of the workshop changed from Instructional Skills Workshop Online (ISWO) to Facilitating Learning Online (FLO), to more close reflect the focus on online facilitation.

 Creative Commons License
This workshop is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Meet the faculty behind the "Insights from Experienced Instructors" videos

Insights from experienced instructors

Meet the faculty behind the "Insights from Experienced Instructors" videos. Throughout the workshop they reflect on their teaching and to offer tips, cautions, strategies and approaches that have contributed to their success in facilitating their online courses.