Saturday, May 14, 2011

Online Facilitating

It is time again for me to answer a few questions from Sarah Stewart for the Online Facilitating Course. This week the questions are:

How do I make my event as inclusive as possible?

I think I will prioritise the same things if I was facilitating a course for students than if I was for anybody else. I think that one of the most important thing is not to assume that everybody knows about technology. I would need to take time prior the first event to go through the technology with the participants, or even provide them with videos on how to use the technology. I should keep in mind at nobody knows all aspects of technology and I should never use sarcasm while interacting with participants. I myself have already experienced when participants within a community were very condescending when I asked questions, and it made me feel very bad. When I am in front of my class I try not to make my students feel awkward and I try to create a relaxed environment in which kids can ask any questions. I should create the same environment online.

There is also the idea that some participants do not come from the same background; same economical, geographical and cultural background. I will need to think at what time the event should take place in order to allow more people to participate. It seems to me it would be wiser to use sound only and no video as a lot of people still have dial up.

How will I market my event?

As I said in a previous post I would advertise in every community I am already a member of. e.g. twitter, blogs, facebook, nings

How will I engage "lurkers"?

The question is why some people are lurking?

Some people do not feel confident enough to participate either because of the technology itself or because of the content.
I should then provide a lot of technical support and I should direct the participants towards great readings.

How do I serve people with minimal Internet coverage or lack of hardware?

support and use of voice only as discussed above.

How do I manage financial costs?

I have never thought about that. It would depend who I work for I suppose...


  1. I have been teaching a Beginners' French course online and have found that one of the most important things to do as a facilitator is to ensure you also have a student profile set up. This allows you to view how students are seeing the course page from their perspectives. For instance, in Edmodo there is a tagging option, where you can tag course updates. However, students don't see the tags you have created. Perhaps this might also help in addressing the question of making students feel included. As for engaging lurkers, it also depends upon the learner's confidence in communicating in the language of instruction. It also depends on whether the questions posed invite more than one possible answers. If lurkers have always been accustomed to only providing one right answer, they may be more reluctant to engage in open-ended discussions.

  2. The question about lurkers is an interesting one. We tend to think lurkers are not learning, but just because they are not actively participating, doesn't mean they are not learning :)

    It's my experience, especially in live sessions, that people are not happy to take the mic...they'd much rather just use text. Do you have any particular activities you use to fully engage people?

  3. Thanks to you both for those comments. I have to admit I have not thought yet about lurkers in my class. I only have 11 students so I 'll think I can "ask" thme to use the mic. But when I teach there are heaps of students who are lurking, it does not mean that they are not learning. I am thinking about one student in particular who lurked in my class for 3 years before blossoming in a very chatty student with a lot of confidence.