Week 5 Readings and Resources

Site: SCoPE - BCcampus Learning + Teaching
Group: Facilitating Learning Online - FEB2015-OER
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Date: Sunday, 19 May 2024, 4:26 AM


Week 5 Readings and Resources (Looking Back, Looking Forward)

Looking Back, Looking Forward

online presenceOnline Presence

Looking back on your experiences in ISWo as a participant and facilitator, and watching others facilitate, do you have any new ideas for establishing and maintaining your online presence? What seemed to work well? What didn't?

Successful online facilitators will tell you they have devised strategies for being there, without always having to be there (online, 24/7). Much of this has to do with understanding, anticipating and responding - in advance - to the needs of adult online learners.

Facilitators can establish and maintain presence in a number of ways, including:

  • post regular updates and notices to the class. Often, instructors post a weekly update on a Sunday evening, perhaps commenting on high points from the last week and setting up expectations and reminders for the coming week. Even though this information (the schedule, the list of tasks and readings) is in the course, it's good to demonstrate that you're moving through the course with them.
  • note particularly interesting developments in the forums
  • ask provocative questions
  • send individual emails
  • make references in assignment feedback or forums to notable postings a student has made
  • make all instructions very, very clear (i.e., anticipate needs)
  • use synchronous technologies at strategic points in the course, e.g., hold a Collaborate session, and record it for those who can't attend. some good times are:
    • at the beginning, to introduce yourself and establish expectations
    • at mid-point, to check in and see how students are doing (in many courses at RRU there is a mid-point survey too, which gives formative feedback while there is time to adjust strategies before the end of the course
    • before a complex or challenging team or individual assignment
    • as a way to prepare and review for the final exam
  • Use audio, video, and images to show and tell things to the students, including your course introduction
  • and last but never least, make it personal to the extent that works for you (e.g., using humour, sharing relevant anecdotes/stories from your professional experience, etc)

Making regular contributions to the course in a variety of ways assures students that you are present and attentive.

If you didn't already watch the "instructor presence" videos that we featured in the beginning of this course, now might be a good time to go back and view them (or view them again!).

Online Management Strategies

For the new online facilitator, reading and responding to postings, providing high-quality feedback, and answering learner questions responsively can often be overwhelming.

Highly-effective, experienced instructors have developed strategies for managing time and expectations in online courses. It’s a good idea to review your course before you begin teaching to help determine what strategies you’ll employ to manage it effectively. Will you have virtual office hours? Will you have regular and/or consistent times that you’ll be online? Are participants aware of your specific facilitation style?

Wherever possible, these strategies should be transparent to your participants, so they clearly understand your expectations and boundaries.

One of the best ways that faculty members can effectively manage their online course environments is to ask questions of themselves that help to clarify how they should be designing, facilitating, and analyzing learning activities that promote effective student-student interactions. By seeking answers to these questions faculty members stay focused on what’s essential in maintaining and managing an effective learning environment.

Experienced faculty at RRU were asked to share the top three things they'd share with new online instructors. Take a moment and watch the following videos.

Mike Thompson (:47)

Jen Walinga (1:33)

Alicia Wilkes (1:12)

Doug Hamilton (2:41)

Assessing Online Participation

An extensive exploration of evaluation and assessment is outside the scope of ISWo, but we will explore one aspect of online assessment in this unit:  assessing online participation.

Online instructors are often bound by guidelines around assessment that are intended to achieve some consistency in grading across courses in a program (e.g., many program areas at RRU have minimum/maximums for participation, team, and exam grades).

Evaluating online participation is a special concern for online facilitators (it could be argued that a paper is a paper, but learners participate differently online than they do face-to-face). This week's readings include some resources to help you explore the challenges and consider solutions to assessing online participation.

Success Strategy

Before teaching, review the student assessment strategies and visualize how you will use them to support learner growth and learning. Use the following questions to guide you:

  • What are the program's policies, procedures, and philosophy, related to evaluation and assessment, that will guide my assessment approach in this course?
  • Are assessment criteria clear and helpful to learners?
  • How can I ensure that my feedback will be clear, consistent, and timely?
  • Is there anything I can add to the instructions, or my postings, that will support and clarify the assessment procedures used in this course?

Reflective Practice


One goal of this unit to explore the notion of being a reflective practitioner. This will have different meanings to everyone; our ways of accessing self-awareness and conducting self-study will be very individualized. You may also find formal or informal processes at your workplace that invites or supports reflection (e.g., course evaluations, quarterly meetings, workshops, retreats, annual performance reviews, corridor chats, or even working with an instructional designer on a course re-design smile)

In a way, this whole course has been an exercise in reflective practice. All along, we have:

  • reflected on and discussed our teaching practices
  • participated in activities, reflected on them, and given/received feedback on facilitation
  • reflected on our own facilitation/mini-session, and submitted a reflection piece (FLIF) about it
  • kept a blog (which is simply a way to engage and share in reflective practice)

In the Fifth Discipline Fieldbook Senge et al. (1996) describe reflecting as:

…becoming an observer of your own thinking and acting. This phase might start with a postmortem about a previous action: How well did it go? What were we thinking and feeling during the process? What underlying beliefs (what "theories in use") seemed to affect the way we handled it? Do we see our goals differently now? (p. 60)

These kinds of questions help develop a deeper understanding of experiences and identify situations and/or aspects of themselves that can be improved.

Reflective practitioners reflect on the "what, why, how and when" of their experiences. The crucial element is the individual's willingness to honestly examine an experience, his or her part in it, and what decisions need to be made as a result.

Goloboy's (2003) article on the “Top Ten Secrets of Successful Online Educators” serves as a summary of some of the key points we've covered in this course. As well, it is a helpful article that can be used to stimulate reflecting thinking.

How do (or will) you build in time for reflective practice?

Video: Doug Hamilton (1:37)

Video: Jen Walinga (1:39)

Video: Alicia Wilkes (1:11)

Read and View


Assessing Participation

Choose one:

Tips for Success Online

Choose one:

Reflective Practice

Choose one:


Mike Thompson (:38)

Work-Life Balance

Insights from experienced faculty...

Doug Hamilton (3:53)

Alicia Wilkes (1:19)

Jen Walinga (1:07)

Mike Thompson (:38)