Introduction

What is Facilitating Learning Online?

Facilitating Learning Online (FLO) is a collection of one- to five-week online courses that help participants develop the skills they need to confidently and effectively facilitate learning online.

The collection includes:

  • Two foundation courses: FLO Fundamentals (5 weeks) and FLO Design (4 weeks),
  • One in-depth course: FLO Synchronous (3 weeks), plus
  • A series of one-week MicroCourses that focus on single topics.

For those wishing to become FLO facilitators, we invite you to take our Facilitator Development Online (2 weeks) course where you can review and plan your first FLO facilitation experience in a community of supportive peers. This learning is extended through a mentorship model where alumni are invited to practice by co-facilitating FLO courses with an experienced facilitator.

Who is this guide for?

FLO courses are designed to be facilitated by those who are committed to improving the quality of online learning in their institution or organization, including:

  • Coordinators or managers of teaching & learning centres
  • Personnel who provide professional development services for educators
  • Administrators of learning management systems (LMS) or virtual learning environments (VLE)

Secondary audiences for this guide include faculty who:

  • Teach fully online or in a blended/hybrid format and are using some aspect of the online environment to facilitate learning
  • Are current online faculty, new-to-online, online-savvy but new to teaching/adult education, or new to both online & teaching
  • Are creating, converting, or revising a course for online delivery
  • May also be instructional designers (professionals or individuals hired to develop a specific course/program for online)
  • Want to develop or improve online synchronous aspects of their courses

This guide will also be useful to administrators as a way to understand the complexity and scope of the work of a facilitator. This will assist in program, budget, and resource planning. In many cases, it will be educational technologists, instructional designers, and other staff who will be performing the tasks outlined in this guide.

Individuals who are preparing to develop or facilitate similar courses may also benefit from this guide, and may choose to adapt it for their own courses. However, because the emphasis is on facilitating in a community of learners and supporting collaboration and reflective practices, it may not be as beneficial for those focusing on teacher-created content or transmissive models. We invite you to take our Facilitator Development Online (2 weeks) course where you can review and plan your first FLO facilitation experience in a community of supportive peers. Once you complete this course, you can co-facilitate FLO courses with an experienced facilitator and gain valuable experience through a mentorship model.

About this guide

The authors of this guide – Gina Bennett, Beth Cougler Blom, Sylvia Currie, and Sylvia Riessner – created it to provide all course facilitators and future FLO facilitators with details about our practices to make your job easier, and to give you a comprehensive picture of how to facilitate FLO courses. It builds on our experiences developing and facilitating the FLO courses and mentoring others to do the same. We use exemplary contributions to the courses, instructions, ideas, and materials, as well as facilitation strategies that have worked for us.

When we prepare for our upcoming courses, we frequently revisit earlier versions of our courses and planning documents. This helps us re-use our work, rethink our next moves, and enables us to write down some of the discussions, skills, and experiences we were having or trying to create and use in FLO courses, that we only share anecdotally. Through this process we are continually bringing in new ideas, and reflecting on and refining course experiences.

Ultimately, mentoring FLO facilitators through this guide, and through other forms of support, enables us to share the vision of what we are trying to accomplish with this family of courses. This guide will help us be more clear with ourselves and others about what that is, and how to keep moving forward with a robust program.

How to use this guide

This guide is not necessarily a linear read. The first three chapters are of value to all facilitators and those curious about FLO courses; however, FLO facilitators and mentors may choose to refer mainly to the course-specific chapters.

The introduction, Chapter 1: What is Facilitation?, and Chapter 2: FLO Family of Courses, are applicable to all readers. These chapters will help you understand how we approach facilitation, and the context in which we have developed and refined this collection of courses.

Chapter 3: Facilitating FLO outlines recommended steps for preparing to facilitate FLO, as well as the facilitation and hosting models for those interested in offering the courses in-house. This chapter will be of interest to all future facilitators, but also to administrative and support staff.

Chapter 4: FLO Fundamentals, Chapter 5: FLO Design, Chapter 6: FLO Synchronous and Chapter 7: FLO MicroCourses, provide specific details about planning and facilitating each course. Jump directly to the course you plan to facilitate, or read them as a way to determine if you want to expand your offerings to include other courses.

Each FLO course chapter (4 – 7) is associated with the open educational resource for that course. These courses are available in Moodle to browse online, copy, or download.[1]


  1. We have used the Moodle Learning Management System to implement FLO courses. However, institutions have adopted FLO and hosted on other platforms.

License

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Introduction by Sylvia Currie, Sylvia Riessner, Gina Bennett, and Beth Cougler Blom is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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