Following Up After Synchronous Sessions
Reflective practice as a facilitator is important no matter what kind of facilitation work you engage in, and no matter which mode - in person or online. Taking the time to engage in reflection about your facilitation skills and the impact of the session on your participants should be an important part of your teaching practice overall. Additionally, when facilitating in a synchronous (or asynchronous) online environment part of your reflection should include thinking about where you are at with your technical skills.
Many of us probably always do the kind of reflection that happens "off the page" - simply reviewing the session in our mind and thinking about how it went, replaying some scenes over in our mind. We would also like to encourage you to do some written reflection, perhaps in a web-based or paper journal that you've set aside solely related to your teaching practice. Set aside time in your schedule soon after your synchronous session to make time for reflection. It may even be a good idea to do your own reflection prior to reading your participant evaluations (if you asked for them) so you don't let the evaluation results overly influence your initial reactions.
Rena M. Palloff and Keith Pratt, in "The Excellent Online Instructor: Strategies for Professional Development" (2011, pp. 153-154) provide a long list of suggested descriptive and reflective questions that you can use after facilitating any online learning experience. These are some of those questions that are particularly relevant for facilitating in synchronous online environments:
- Learning Outcomes
- What learning outcomes did you establish for your learners?
- Did they meet the outcomes? How well?
- What activities did you use to achieve the outcomes?
- Learning Activities
- Did your learning activities promote interaction among learners?
- How extensive or robust would you say discussion was?
- Was the majority of interaction learner to learner or was it primarily directed to you as the instructor?
- Were all learners able to access and use the technology?
- Were there any technical issues that emerged?
- What was the learning experience like for learners?
- Did they meet expected learning outcomes?
- Did they seem to enjoy the class and the learning experience?
- Were students motivated and involved throughout?
- Were there any surprises or unexpected benefits to students?
- What informal feedback did you receive along the way?
- What was the learning experience like for you as the instructor?
- Were there challenges? If so, how did you meet them?
- Did you feel supported in your teaching experience by staff and colleagues?
- Did you enjoy the teaching experience?
- Did your work online allow you to express your preferred teaching style, values and beliefs about learning?
- Did you develop some new approaches?
- What worked well?
- What would you do differently next time?
- What advice would you give to a colleague who was about to teach the same online course that you taught?
- What advice would you give to a colleague who was about to develop an online course?
Palloff, Rena M. & Keith Pratt. (2011). The Excellent Online Instructor: Strategies for professional development. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.