Confessions of an Online Facilitator

Over the last few years I’ve learnt a lot of valuable lessons about delivering a qualification that solely delivered online and I thought I’d use this blog post as a chance to reflect on my experiences to date. Here are 3 suggestions to help you facilitate successfully online.

Student Motivation

Student motivation is probably my biggest nemesis. We can provide all the support in the world but if the student is not intrinsically motivated they may fail to complete. At the start of every course I like to have a chat with every student to find out their goals in taking the course and also to help them form a study plan. If you are embarking on an online course ask yourself how motivated are you? Are you prepared to allocate study time each week and make it a priority?  Just because it’s online doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easier. I also find that a friendly phone call works best if students have ‘fallen off the wagon’. It reassures the student to let them know they can continue and it also gives them an opportunity to set some new learning goals.

Structure versus Self-Paced

For me this really depends on the content and the audience. Some online courses follow a distance learning model where the student is given the content and they can complete it whenever they wish. This type of model doesn’t work for me personally! I’m one of those ‘put it on the long finger’ type of people.  I’ve taken this into consideration for the MEC course so students have two study options: (a) follow a strict 4 month timeline or (b) complete it by yourself over a 12 month period. Most people chose Option A. Unless you are highly motivated, it can be really hard to just fit in a course over a long period of time. You also lose your study momentum.

Variety

Variety is the spice of life as they say! I’ve learnt the hard way that we need to add variety but too much variety can also be confusing. Make sure your learner guide or induction guide clearly state what student must attend or participate in e.g. gaining credits for attending webinars. We like to add a lot of variety to the MEC course through synchronous and asynchronous learning activities:

  • webinars
  • eLearning Modules
  • social media (forums , literature libraries, wikis, blogs, chat rooms)
  • online quizzes
  • mixture of written assessments and practical assessments

Using a variety of modes such as webinars and social media allow students to interact with others and take away that feeling of alienation when completing an online qualification.

We have excellent completion rates here at B Online Learning and it’s something that we are quite proud of. However, we are always learning and improving our course structure. My final advice as an online facilitate is to keep in regular contact with your students and also provide as much structure/guidance as you can! Then wait for those completion reports to come flooding through your LMS!

 Allen, I. E., & Seaman, J. (2011). Going the distance: Online education in the United States. Babson Survey Research Group and Quahong Research Group, LLC.