most of my teaching is face to face but I have facilitated courses and webinars as well.
I find it useful to create an outline that goes along with my slides when I use powerpoint.
I include questions or prompts so I do not get lost as I go through the slides.
I am using this on Friday when I will be facilitating a professional development workshop for teachers. I have indicated my pauses, my questions, and other comments that are not in my notes.
I will be using two computers to document comments ( as was suggested in a different posting) so as not together distracted by my own facilitation.
I also find useful to know who my audience is, how many participants will potentially join, and background information from the participants (i.e., what is the level of exposure/experience, understanding of the topic in question, etc.).
One expectation I include is "I expect participants to participate!" With this I mean I trust that teachers (in this case) will feel comfortable reading quotes with me, raise their 'hand' to indicate approval or agreement, and so froth.
I am curious as to what strategies other people use to prepare.
I was talking about some of these ideas with colleagues today. We were discussing ways to promote questioning. A few things:
1. be direct about wanting people to compose questions during the presentation. Then by the time you pause, people will have prepared a few, and you don't have to put them on the spot to come up with questions.
2. in a feedback session we held on our Collaborate session recently, one learner said, "If I know what to think about ahead of time, I can be more prepared." I think this is a simple but important idea. I've seen it mentioned here in this discussion forum as well.
3. the white board is good for brainstorming ideas, as we did in our session yesterday. This seems to be effective rather than just openly asking for ideas and waiting for people to speak
4. offer categories of topics to help people organize their thoughts.
5. as Ross did yesterday, a brief orientation to the available functions of the environment can help people feel less confused about what they can/can't do while in the session. This seems especially important with folks who are new to the environment.
Thank you for the insight, Dave.
Yes, there are multiple ways to participate, and these are all great suggestions!
My session on Friday is only 90 minutes so I am thinking on how to maximize my time, and be selective with the activities and/or degree of engagement.
Part of my goal is to demonstrate as I go along, and have the session be a learning opportunity for these teachers on how they can use online settings to facilitate their sessions, as well.
I am also thinking on brief assessment modalities that include those who are not comfortable speaking while in session ( not even in the small chat/breakout rooms).
Definitely, lots to learn!
I would say the choice to participate in discussions depends on how supportive the learning environment is.
I design as well as facilitate online courses in Japan, a country with a very hierarchical structure that is not used to a teacher being a facilitator. Students are taught not to interrupt the class so you can it is almost impossible to get participants to share ideas in both a classroom and now online. The way we've been able to improve participation and discussion is to focus on the UID* principle of "Providing a supportive learning environment". (*universal instructional design).
Of course, providing a supportive learning environment differs varies between individuals. The University of Guelph has a great publication, called The Universal Instructional Design Implementation Guide about using UID principles to developing community in online courses and helped me develop more engaging activities. I booklet is well design and very readable.
Thank you for sharing your experiences, Doug.
I agree with how important it is to keep in mind the diversity amongst learners, and the range of experiences they bring to the classroom community.
It is also important to keep in mind that every context will require unique considerations not just in terms of facilitation but also in terms of other characteristics such as assessment (i.e., is it a recurrent course, a one hour workshop, a blended environment, etc.).
Thank you for sharing,
Hi Carmen - I agree, a plan is always a good idea. It is also good to be flexible as well but if the design is laid out - with approximate times - the session flows a bit easier. It also helps to see if there is too much activity in the session. A good learning activity takes time and you want to allow for that. I have attached Asif & I's lesson plan for our first synchronous session. I find it useful to use as a template. Ross
Thank you for sharing the outline, Ross and Assif,
It is helpful, and a good reminder to add approximate timings but also allowing flexibility.
In order to facilitate an effective discussion, I would suggest providing participants with a specific task or deliverable. In their breakout rooms, participants can use the whiteboard feature to record ideas. Or, you could provide a Google Doc (perhaps linked in the group chat box) for all groups to record ideas in. Keep in mind, if participants are attending the session via their phone, it will likely be difficult for them to contribute to a Google Doc or white board. Finally, keep students on-task, you can push messages to all breakout rooms at the same time (e.g., “you have 5 mins left to work on this task”). Once participants come back to the larger session you can have them share one or two of their conversation points.
Great suggestions and good reminder about those that might participate in a limited way, like by phone - a piece to consider - how could they also participate?
Thank you for the suggestions, Briana.
I facilitated a workshop for teachers on Friday. Though I expected participation given the nature of their role, it was a bit challenging to have people 'visibly' engaged. And I don't mean having their video on but rather, to be willing to read out loud or work in pairs, etc. I think it would be useful for me to appreciate the differences among facilitating styles: when a session constitutes a workshop, a webinar, simply a session, and so forth, as each will have its own components.
I am thinking that is not the same to be facilitating a class ( i.e., post secondary) where one expects students to participate responding to white board, wikis, etc. than to facilitate a workshop for practitioners.
I would appreciate any literature or resources that establish distinctions amongst sessions.
Again, thank you for your suggestions.
I am thinking that it is not the same to be facilitating a class ( i.e., post secondary) where one expects students to participate in responding to white board, wikis, etc. than to facilitate a workshop for practitioners.
That's a very interesting question indeed! I've noticed the same and looked at some of the items in my research. The issues for me are interconnected with the question of how education is changing and the importance of creating a learning environment in virtual spaces that resonates with students.
Riddle, M., & Souter, K. (2012). Designing informal learning spaces using student perspectives. Journal of Learning Spaces, 1(2). Retrieved from http://libjournal.uncg.edu/jls/article/view/282/278
While talking about physical places, I feel the concepts apply to virtual spaces as well.
And this video called The Shift from Engaging Students to Empowering Learners.