Participation Guidelines


FLO is a participatory and cohort-based course.

To derive maximum benefit, and to be fair and supportive to your colleagues, you need to participate fully in online activities and discussions.

FLO requires commitment on your part. We recommend that you set aside 6 - 12 hours per week for online activities and course readings. You can expect to spend more time during the week you are facilitating. Also, the time you spend will vary depending on the number of optional readings you do and how much effort you put into the activities. In any case, 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 all FLO participants know in advance. It is important that you arrange to meet your participation requirements before or immediately after you get back online. (Note: If you plan to be away from the course for a week or more due to a work or personal commitment, please connect with the FLO facilitators asap to discuss whether this is the right time for you to take this course.)

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 are 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 support 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: Assessing Online Participation: Exploring the Problem & Possible Solutions (pdf).

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.