Preparing for Synchronous Sessions

Working with co-facilitators

Working with a co-facilitator (or a facilitation team) to facilitate a synchronous session can be a really useful experience, both to handle "the load", so to speak, and to continue our own learning when seeing each other demonstrate great facilitation skills.

In Facilitating Live Online Learning, Colin Steed notes (p. 54) the following four roles that co-facilitators can play:

  • handling technical issues
  • ensuring content is available and working
  • keeping note of the questions asked in Chat or Q&A panels
  • acting as a side-kick

Although the way he frames his advice is to have one "facilitator" and one "co-facilitator" - who would act as a producer or host - the roles above could easily be shared by two or more co-facilitators equally. This is often what we see in higher education, rather than - as sometimes experienced in the corporate world - one facilitator or presenter and one producer whose role is to support the session more behind the scenes. Particularly when we are facilitating sessions that involve participatory and active learning, it is easy and desirable to add more facilitators to the mix.

Working with co-facilitators does mean, though, that you will need to find time to plan your session together and have discussions about who is going to take on which pieces or which role. Talk about each of your strengths and preferences, and potentially your "stretch goals" - what you'd like to try to get better at when facilitating in this way. Talk about your current technical skills and help each other learn the "techy things" that will help you facilitate a great session.

You may wish to indicate how you have divided your responsibilities between facilitators in your lesson plan or in the notes section of your PowerPoint slide deck, although make sure that you are very familiar with all sections of the session just in case things get mixed up when you are actually facilitating and one facilitator takes another facilitator's slide to discuss. :-)