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Facilitator Training Program
Option 1: Synchronous 3-Day Model
Michelle Marzullo
CUR/532
March 16, 2015
Stephanie Krebs

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Facilitator Training Program
INTRODUCTION
"Every organization can attribute their success in large part to an effective training
program, but it cannot serve the needs of the employees unless there is an organized plan" (HR
Professionals Magazine, n.d.). This training manual is intended and designed to help training
professionals at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia make a smooth transition from face-toface instructor to online learning facilitator. It is important for instructors to acknowledge and
understand the fundamental differences between the traditional classroom and the online
environment. Through clear learning goals and objectives, and relevant methods and strategies,
these trainees will be equipped with the necessary knowledge, skills and tools to facilitate online
learning for the organization.
Part I – Vital Information in the Facilitator Training
TRAINING PROGRAM AUDIENCE
The target audience for this manual and corresponding “train the trainer” program is the
Learning Services Team of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). This team is
comprised of approximately 15-20 individuals, including specialists, designers, trainers,
principals and managers. This team is responsible for providing training and professional
development to employees across the enterprise, at all levels. In addition to training, they
provide resources and advice to help employees at CHOP excel in their careers. They use a
variety of approaches including one-on-one consulting, live events, classroom trainings and
seminars, social events, e-learning and online multimedia modules. As the workforce continues
to grow, both in number and location, the need for e-learning and facilitation of distance
corporate training is growing.

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This training program audience is actively engaged in face-to-face employee training and
development and learning services on a daily basis throughout various areas of the organization.
Learners are presumed to:

Have prior education, training and experience in adult learning theories

Have experience facilitating face-to-face staff training and development courses

Possess a high level of computer literacy

Be a novice in online course development and facilitation
Along with the presumed skill sets of the training program audience, there are certain

prior experiences that have an influence on the design of the program, including:

Experience leading face-to-face classes

Familiarity and experience with mentoring

Minimal to no distance learning facilitation experience

Some experience as students in online courses themselves

TRAINING PROGRAM GOALS
This training course strives to develop the key skills, competencies, experiences and
confidence of corporate trainers so that they can successfully transition into distance learning
facilitators in an e-learning environment. Trainees will expand and develop the following skills
needed for effective distance learning facilitation:

Presence

Communication and Collaboration Skills

Engaged Discussion

Constructive Feedback and Guidance

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Creativity, Commitment and Motivation

Organization and Time Management

COURSE OBJECTIVES
By the conclusion of this 3-day course, students/trainers will be able to:
1. Identify characteristics of effective, engaged and successful online facilitators.
2. Define the various roles and skills of an online facilitator.
3. Describe the phases of faculty development.
4. Discuss theories of distance learning and their application to course facilitation.
5. Name and describe three strategies for engaging distance learners and strategies for
implementation in the online environment.
6. Discuss the inclusion of a mentoring program for faculty in the training program.
7. Describe strategies and necessary components of an effective faculty development and
management program.
8. Construct an online learning platform an associated activities for the online environment.
9. Demonstrate the ability to establish presence, facilitate learning and navigate students
through the online platform.
10. Provide clear policies and direction to students regarding participation and assignments.
11. Understand the importance of giving positive and constructive feedback in a timely
manner.
12. Identify ways to get to know learners and engage and motivate them in the online
environment.
13. Outline strategies for providing an open, supportive, safe and fun learning environment.
14. Identify three technology tools that engage learners and enhance distance learning.

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15. Demonstrate proficiency with web and social media tools that can boost online learning
and collaboration.
16. Discuss possible challenges facilitator may face due to differences in learners and
strategies to conquer these differences.
SUMMATIVE ASSESSMENT OF LEARNING
At the end of this training program, students will be assessed on their ability to fulfill the
course objectives previously outlined. This type of assessment helps prove that the learning
experience was successful, or in some cases not successful. These assessments can highlight
areas of opportunity in the design, providing information to make changes in content, activities
or delivery for subsequent trainings. Various tools will be used to test knowledge and skills and
measure the effectiveness and learning outcomes of both the learners, facilitator and the training
program itself.
For this particular course, information will be gathered and skills will be measured
through the following tools/methods:

Authentic assessments/performance of certain “checkpoint” tasks
o Introductions through discussion thread posts on the LMS
o Respond to other students’ posts within the discussion thread
o Journal reflections on personal growth and development (self-assessment)
o Use of technology tool to complete sample assignment
o Small group collaborative “learning team” assignment
o Posting of assignments to sample LMS

End of course participant satisfaction surveys and course evaluations

Informal course “check-ins”

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Post-training peer evaluations and assessments (after completion of first course
facilitation)
Having these assessments in place, and informing students of the expectations will also

help motivate students throughout the experience. Asking students to demonstrate what they
have learned and complete performance assessments at certain points within the training, will
help validate the methods and design of the experience and indicate that it is ok to move on to
the next topic.
Part II – Facilitator Skills and Instructional Materials
ONLINE FACILITATOR ROLES AND SKILLS
Online facilitators wear many hats as they guide students through the online learning
environment. As defined by Bull (2013), effective online facilitators act as:

Tour guide

Cheerleader

Learning coach

Individual and Group Mirror

Social Butterfly

Big Brother

Valve Control

Co-learner
In order to successful take on these roles, there are several skills that facilitators need to

understand and gain proficiency: presence, communication, discussion and constructive

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feedback. Being present, observant, respectful, clear, concise and engaged in the experience will
help create a learning experience that promotes students' success.
ESTABLISHING PRESENCE
First and foremost, facilitators must establish a good, consistent presence in the online
community. Facilitators must make themselves known and visible, as well as make an effort to
get to know their students and make meaningful connections with them. Doing so demonstrates
commitment to and engagement in the learning experience. By establishing a presence in the
online environment early on, we help prevent a sense of loss from developing. Palloff and Pratt
(2011) state, “online there is a greater possibility for a sense of loss among learners – loss of
contact, loss of connection, and a resultant sense of isolation” (pg. 31). The effects created by a
separation of facilitators and learners in time and space can be reduced by establishing a strong
sense of presence within the online experience.
LEADING BY EXAMPLE
Facilitators should demonstrate the desired behaviors in the learning environment
themselves and lead by example. Staying highly motivated and engaged in the experience is one
way to do so. Distance learning facilitators should be models of lifelong learning for students,
actively participating in the experience and staying engaged from start to finish. This will set a
nice foundation for the learning activities and methods that will follow, as well as help reduce
any barriers or distractions that might affect the online experience.
CLEAR COMMUNICATION OF LEARNING GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
As a facilitator, it is key that students understand the overall learning goals and
objectives, as well as, the purpose behind the course activities. Course content, materials and

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activities should be aligned to the learning goals and objectives if they are going to be effective
for the student.

CHEERLEADER AND SOURCE OF SUPPORT
At times, it can be very difficult to be an adult student, let alone and adult student in a
distance learning situation. Facilitators need to provide a safe, encouraging, motivating and
challenging environment that also pushes students to the next level and achieve success.
Encouraging positive class morale, listening to others and respecting the diverse thoughts,
opinions and experiences of others is fundamental to a successful experience.
PROVIDE TIMELY AND CONSTRUCTIVE FEEDBACK
There are several strategies to use to be fully engaged and remain that way throughout the
class. Some of these steps would include:

Having continuous interaction with students throughout the experience

Establishing and communicating course requirements and facilitators expectations

Finding creative ways to engage students and providing opportunities for students to
learn new methods and work with new technologies through a variety of assignments

Using multiple avenues of communication in order to reach all students where they are at

Choosing words and tone carefully

Model desired behaviors

Be timely and constructive with feedback - both positive and negative

Assess student learning

Asking open-ended questions to encourage critical and higher level thinking

Choose words and tone carefully

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Acknowledge, respect and incorporate other's viewpoints and experiences into the
learning experience

PHASES OF DEVELOPMENT FOR DISTANCE LEARNING FACILITATORS
According to Palloff and Pratt (2011), there are several phases of faculty development.
Faculty move through different stages of development as they transition into and begin practicing
online facilitation. The five stages faculty more through include:

Visitor

Novice

Apprentice

Insider

Master
These phases are not fixed and can depend on the individual's interpretation or the

organization or course requirements. Successful faculty development depends on the ability to
introduce and implement different strategies based on each phase of development, veering from
the "one size fits all" model. Faculty members may possess varied degrees of previous
knowledge or experience and will have different training needs at different times throughout the
stages, requiring various strategies and methods. There two distinct approaches are the phased
and learning community approaches.
PHASED APPROACH
In faculty development, "what is key to working with a phased approach to online faculty
development is the recognition that faculty enter the training process at different places in their
development" (Palloff & Pratt, 2011, pg. 28). The phased approach of development focuses on

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content and aligns training needs to methods appropriate for the student’s position in their
development cycle. There are five difference phases with various training techniques and
methods. These phases cover facilitators just beginning to those considered masters and leaders.
With the progression through the phases, different techniques are more student to learners than
those in other phases. Teachers more from gathering information, to adopting and experimenting
with new strategies, to showing an understanding of the relationship between technology and
delivery of information, to developing stronger intuition then to finally showing one’s proficient
understanding.
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LEARNING COMMUNITY APPROACH
Within the learning community approach, a nurturing and supportive environment is
cultivated. Faculty gain a preview of what learners will go through in their own experience.
These communities can form in various ways, at various times, under various circumstances.
This collaborative approach can also spur on creativity and provide new outlooks regarding
distance education.

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Carefully planned faculty development strategies can contribute to the development of
learning environments that are efficient, effective and that foster feelings of collaboration,
interaction, and inclusion throughout the institution and the learning environment.
STRATEGIES FOR FACULTY DEVELOPMENT
The most efficient and effective strategies for faculty development are ones that blend the
various approaches and meet the needs of faculty at their various phases. As stated by Palloff
and Pratt (2011), "training should occur throughout the lifespan of the online instructor, however,
and should be tailored to the experience level" (pg. 49). Several strategies that can be used in
planning effective faculty development include:

Including faculty who are ready to teach online in the initial training sessions to gain
support and feedback

Recognize the feelings of the faculty and be sensitive to those feelings

Meet faculty where they are at in terms of readiness, skills, experience, comfort-level,
etc.

Be respectful and inclusive of previous experiences and various skillsets

Develop and implement training based on adult learning, distance learning and learning
engagement theories

Provide necessary guidelines, resources and tools to promote successful course
facilitation

Demonstrating technology already in use by colleagues and peers

Combine best practices for both individual and collaborative activities to keep faculty
involved, engaged and motivated

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Use "champions" and mentors, along with a learning community approach to help
develop support systems, gain feedback and expose learners to multiple perspectives

Build trainings around topics that address specific faculty interests and needs

Continuously evaluate and adjust efforts as needed

THEORIES OF DISTANCE LEARNING
TRADITIONAL LEARNING THEORIES
There are many theories and models that address how people learn. Some of these
theories include:

Behaviorism/Social Learning Theory

Cognitivism

Constructivism/Problem Based Learning

Experiential Learning
The exploration of these theories help facilitators understand how students learn and what

motivates them in the classroom. While these certainly have an influence on learning in the
distance learning environment, there are additional theories that have an impact of the e-learning
experience.
KNOWLES’ THEORY OF ANDRAGOGY
Knowles' theory of andragogy, or the way adults learn, is based on six assumptions about
adult learning that differentiate the experience from that of a child. Knowles believed that as
learners grew and matured, they veered away from being dependent and become more of a selfdirecting, self-motivated learner. Adults no longer need to be dependent on the instructor, as
they take the responsibility into their own hands. There is a shift in the role of the instructor

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from a disseminator of knowledge to facilitator. It is important that adults and instructors work
jointly, as partners in the experience.
Learners in distance learning and online experiences need to make an increased effort to
stay in touch, remain engaged and maintain a high level of participation and interaction. Adult
learners are often balancing many competing interests: family, career, education, finances, etc.
Making the most efficient use of time, focusing on content related to immediate problems or
concerns is key in adult learning theory explored by Knowles.
As adult learning continues to grow and evolve, theories such as Knowles', along with the
various other frameworks and theories of learning will help inform the design and content of
future learning initiatives and activities. When designing distance learning experiences, these
principles should be used to guide behavior and design of a course and related activities.
Understanding what drives and motivates our learners, as well as how to address their different
learning styles and needs will help inform the design of the learning experience.
MULTIMODALITIES & MULTILITERACTIES
Multimodality and multi-literacy are two concepts in learning that should be closely
examined, especially with e-learning. Multimodality refers to the wide range of modes of
communication - verbal, iconic, visual, etc, and their various purposes and functions. Learning
can happen through numerous modes, either individually, or working in conjunction with others.
A multimodal environment provides multiple possibilities for learning. Multi-literacy is a term
that describes the ability to read, write, create and respond to and through many interfaces and
across many dimensions.
When considering an e-learning environment, the modalities utilized need to be aligned
to and promote the proper learning purpose, goals and objectives. They cannot "miss the mark".

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Experiences, whether face-to-face or distance, should provide comparable experiences in an
effort to achieve similar learning goals and objectives. Engaging, multimodal experiences that
encourage the development and use of multiliteracies, as well as opportunities for interaction and
transformational thinking are ways e-learning can successfully meet learning goals and
objectives like its face-to-face counterparts.
ENGAGING DISTANCE LEARNERS
Distances learning experiences do not have to be, and should not be dependent on
technology tools alone. Technology tools, if used, should be carefully aligned to supplement the
learning experience, not overwhelm or complicate it. Facilitators can engage learners without
the use of technology tools by:

Maintaining a noticeable, positive and encouraging presence in the online classroom

Laying ground rules and creating a safe, comfortable and open learning space for students

Communicating contact information and guidelines in an effort to be an accessible and
responsive facilitator

Incorporating multiple levels of interaction: learner-to-content, learner-to-learner and
learner-to-instructor

Presenting content in more than one formant

Using activities that promote collaboration, further content exploration and give students
options for completing assignments

Encouraging class socialization and discussion through discussion forums and asking
questions to encourage deeper, higher level thinking

Providing relevant, positive and constructive feedback for students

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These methods build a strong sense of community, increase learner satisfaction and
retention, provide necessary and appropriate feedback, expose individuals to various learning
methods and resources and promote higher levels of learning and critical thinking. They also can
make students feel more comfortable, validated, valued and motivated, while also addressing
individual learning needs and styles.

ESTABLISHING AN ONLINE PRESENCE
“Facilitating learning communities at a distance requires some new approaches to the
practice of managing the teaching and learning process” (Hazemi & Hailes, 2001). Making
oneself known and visible to those in the online environment, as well as making connections
with others, is key for the success of online facilitators. Doing so demonstrates several things to
the students: commitment to the learners, commitment to the content and commitment to the
experience as a whole. As instructors create, shape and refine the online environment and
learning experience, maintaining a consistent, online presence from the very beginning through
to the end of the course is so important.
Palloff and Pratt (2007) made the following observation, “online there is a greater
possibility for a sense of loss among learners – loss of contact, loss of connection, and a resultant
sense of isolation” (pg. 31). When facilitators establish a strong online presence, they minimize
the effects created by a separation of facilitators and learners in time and space. Keeping lines of
communication open, encouraging a positive class morale, and respecting the thoughts, opinions
and experiences of others is key. Doing so creates a balanced environment - one that motivates
students and keeps them actively involved and excited in the learning experience.
BUILDING A COMMUNITY OF LEARNERS

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In the book Habits of the Heart, Bellah, Madsen, Sullivan, Swidler and Tipton (1985)
define community as follows, "a community is a group of people who are socially
interdependent, who participate together in discussion and decision making, and who share
certain practices that both define the community and are nurtured by it"(p. 333). In a distance
learning environment, the term "community" can represent the interactive, collaborative,
participatory, respectful, focused environment in which there are common, shared learning goals
and objectives. Communities of learning and practice gradually develop out of shared
circumstances, situations and goals. In e-learning, technology helps create contexts for these
learning experiences, providing platforms in which to interact, collaborate, develop relationships
and networks and form bonds
SETTING STUDENTS UP FOR SUCCESS
As instructors are preparing transition from the traditional classroom to the online
environment, attention must be paid to the various factors that influence a student’s success and
their feelings of self-efficacy, or ability to complete certain actions or tasks specifically in the
online environment. Online facilitators should make an effort to increase student’s selfconfidence and provide students with tools and skills for mastery and success. “Students with a
strong sense of efficacy are more likely to challenge themselves with difficult tasks and be
intrinsically motivated” (Kirk, 2013), thus increasing the likelihood of achieving learning
outcome.
Part III – Management and Technology Tools
MENTORING PROGRAM
As a training program for distance learning facilitators is designed, an important
component to include is faculty mentoring. By incorporating mentoring into training design,

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instructors are able to provide "the greatest level of support, technical skill development and
connection to the institution" (Palloff & Pratt, 2011, pg. 70). It is necessary to identify, define
and align the mentoring program purpose with the development needs of the faculty.
The goal of a mentoring relationship is to build a relationship that fosters creativity,
quality and support and enhances the quality and effectiveness of teaching and learning. As part
of a mentoring program, methods for sharing experiences, examples and models, as well as for
proving appropriate support should be included. A few ways this could be accomplished include:

FORMAL MENTORING PROGRAM: pairing more experience peer instructors with
beginners, allowing informal or ad-hoc relationships to develop out of circumstance or
immediate needs; using students as mentors

INFORMAL OR NETWORKED FORM OF MENTORING: reaching out to various
individuals to help address particular needs
Mentor/mentee relationships can be determined by various factors, including:

Degree of commitment to program

Desired level of interaction

Competency, skill or knowledge gaps

MANAGEMENT & EVALUATION PROGRAMS
According to Palloff and Pratt (2011), feedback and evaluation of faculty serves two
purposes: "to motivate and enable faculty to know how well they are doing, and to engage them
in continuous professional development" (pg. 91). When it comes to distance learning,
traditional methods of evaluation may miss the mark and be inefficient and ineffective.
When evaluating distance learning facilitators, it is necessary to look at several things:
communication, facilitation methods and activities, course design and interaction. Methods such

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as rubrics or checklists could be very successful and effective, and used for both peer and
administrative evaluations. A rubric or checklist could also provide feedback that could be used
in further faculty, course and program development efforts. In terms of program evaluation, both
facilitator evaluations and course satisfaction surveys would be useful tools. These two types of
evaluations are necessary to see if the course is effective and meeting the learning objectives set
forth in the syllabus.
Evaluation of distance learning efforts should be ongoing so that facilitators can receive
immediate feedback and adjust methods/activities/assignments accordingly. Providing
opportunities to gain feedback through course audits, check-ins, quick observations or “pulse
checks” could be valuable to the facilitator and help keep them on track towards the learning
goals and objectives.
LEARNING MANAGEMENT SYSTEM (LMS)
According to Doe (2010), “an online learning community is a place designed to help
users achieve learning goals of some sort through collaborative partnerships, including varying
degrees of social networking and internet-based and computer-mediated communication”
(pg.32). These systems assist facilitators in the administration of courses, tracking and reporting
of various training methods and events. The LMS has become an essential part of the online
learning experience and is used for presenting information, facilitating discussions and
interactions between faculty and students, and as a repository for assignments and feedback.
Microsoft Office SharePoint is a one valuable web-based application that allows the
development of this type of online learning community. As a dynamic, real-time learning
platform, SharePoint encourages learners to gather and store information, share ideas, opinions
and expertise, collaborate on content and knowledge development and communicate and interact

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with one another. When used as an LMS, SharePoint can bring a number of tools together in one
solution. It can assist with information storage, peer-to-peer work, course communication and
project collaboration.
SharePoint offers a variety of templates and building blocks to suit the needs and
objectives of individuals and organizations, and allows facilitators to:

Upload content (text, video, audio, etc.) to document libraries and wikis

Post announcements and use message boards

Interact with students through threaded discussions

Create blogs or additional web pages

Create task lists and provide areas for assignment submissions

Maintain calendars

Post links of interest

Manage contact lists

Create workflows and manage collaborative projects

Create assessments and survey tools
Within the SharePoint system, various e-learning tools are combined to provide a

comprehensive, integrated, collaborative distance learning solution. Distance learning systems,
like SharePoint, are constantly “evolving to consider supporting seamlessly the multiple
languages, learning styles, disabilities, and learner potentials and development differences” of
learners (Abram, 2012, pg. 18).
PART IV – Challenges, Issues and Classroom Management

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TECHNOLOGY TOOLS TO INCREASE STUDENT ENGAGEMENT AND ENHANCE
LEARNING
Online facilitators are encouraged to use a variety of modalities and multimedia tools to
incorporate video, audio and visuals into the learning environment. Adding an element of fun is
another way to promote interaction with other students and with the content being presented.
Incorporating a variety of tools in the learning experience addresses the reality that students have
different learning needs and preferences and that they need various avenues and options for
engaging with content. Tools that promote higher level thinking, collaboration with others and
interaction in the learning environment can include:

Management Technologies – tools that bring the classroom online; provide opportunities
to engage, collaborate, track and grade assignments; delivers content virtually anywhere;
centrally stores class materials

Collaboration Technologies – tools that allow individuals to work together, increase
access to information and reduce team work barriers; synchronous and asynchronous;
improves communication while facilitating decision making and team building

Presentation Technologies – tools to create, store, and share information and content,
integrating text, audio, phot and visual elements; helps organize content; shows examples
and visualizations; guides learners through content
Learning technologies should be considered tools that support and promote learning, and

according to Tu (2005), “they should have the capacity and the capability to empower humans
and advance human learning” (pg. 190).
STUDENT COLLABORATION TOOLS

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"With the continuing evolution of the workplace, as well as advances in technology,
creating learning environments that are more conducive to today's worker is a top priority"
(General Physics Corporation, 2010). Tools that promote collaboration, sharing of ideas,
professional development, networking, interaction, as well as both formal and informal learning,
are key components to the e-learning experience.
PREZI
A learning technology that is gaining increasing popularity, especially for collaboration
and presentations is Prezi, a cloud-based presentation/storytelling tool. Prezi is similar to
PowerPoint, however it provides students with a workspace that replaces the ordinary
presentation slide decks. Learners are able to create presentations that are dynamic, navigating
between text, images, videos, and other media without leaving the project space. Prezi offers a
more fluid, smooth presentation. There is also a collaboration feature that allows up to ten
people to co-author/co-edit a presentation in real-time.
ADOBE CONNECT
Another tool that is used for frequently for distance learning facilitation is Adobe
Connect. This is a web conferencing platform that can have various purposes: eLearning,
webinars, meetings, etc. It can be used as a social learning tool, providing live and on-demand
learning across various types of devices. Adobe Connect has the capability of reaching various
types of users across various platforms. It is also an easy-to-use tool for creating and sharing
content. Learners can participate in various virtual, interactive and immersive classroom
experiences, as well as have exposure to various types of media and activities. There are also
built-in analytics tools that can provide facilitators with real time information about learning
trends, strengths and areas of opportunity that may exist in the learning experience.

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WIKIS
"Wikis permit asynchronous communication and group collaboration across the Internet"
(Educause, 2005). Wikis function on the idea that they will improve as more and more people
interact with them, sharing information and ideas across all levels of an organization. Through
the use of wikis, learners have easy access to a growing and evolving knowledgebase of
information, can collect and distribute information, and can develop a sense of community
within the learning environment.
With these tools, as well as others, "the end value depends on how well it has been
implemented, configured, designed, and managed to support the needs of the user community"
(ATD, 2014).
DIFFERENCES IN DISTANCE LEARNERS
E-learning has created "new places and spaces for different species of learners and
different kinds of learning activity" (pg. 143). There is a great assortment in people, practices,
technologies, methods and values in the online classroom - creating unique learning
environments for each new experience. In addition to these variables, other factors may be at
play and affect the learning experience. Some of these variables could include: Student, faculty
and technology sophistication, learner and facilitator readiness and motivation, availability of
technology, accessibility and content, and the influence surrounding environments. A distance
learner's individual environment will play a role in the overall learning experience and will
provide the individual with a unique perspective, motivation, voice and personal viewpoint.
SYNCHRONOUS VS. ASYNCHRONOUS FACILITATION SKILLS
Online learning experiences can provide learners with both synchronous and
asynchronous communication. While most interaction is conducted asynchronously, adding

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synchronous elements can add a personal touch and live interaction to an otherwise solitary
experience. Distance learning facilitators need to be able to take skills they use in face-to-face
experiences and apply them to an asynchronous environment.
Facilitation of an asynchronous environment requires many skills that have been
discussed previously including:

Maintaining an online presence

Responding to posts promptly and honestly

Providing clear expectations and course requirements

Observing the online classroom for any areas of opportunity or students struggling

TECHNOLOGY MANAGEMENT ISSUES
While technology certainly has its advantages, sometimes there are obstacles that cause
frustration and hinder the learning experience. Some of these technological problems include:
CONNECTIVITY ISSUES
Connectivity issues, whether it be slow connection, unreliable connection or no
connection at all, can cause problems when loading content, web pages, videos, etc. As more
devices attempt to connect to a network, there is a possibility that the connection will slow down
or become overloaded. It is also possible that issues are caused by factors out of the student’s
control, such as severe weather or network outages. Not having a reliable connection could
cause problems when accessing course materials, researching supplemental information and also
when submitting assignments.
SITE AVAILABILITY OR BROKEN LINKS
Very similar to network/connection issues on the end user's side would be issues with the
availability of web pages and other online resources. Unbeknownst to the student, resources may

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be moved, pages could be disabled and students will not be able to access the information or
content that they need. Alternative ways to access information and some technological savvy is
necessary to get the needed information. Issues accessing information can cause students to
become frustrated, become disengaged, lose focus and let these temporary challenges have a
negative effect on learning outcomes.
LACK OF PROPER EQUIPMENT OR APPLICATIONS
There are some instances where individuals may not have the latest technology or
compatible versions of programs. Some may be working with older versions of software that
may change formatting of a document in a different version or not have certain applications.
Another barrier not always considered is differences between those working on PCs vs. Macs. In
an online environment, facilitators should be aware of challenges individuals are facing with
hardware and applications. Encouraging students to be open and honest and communicate with
others, so that everyone is one the same page, can make adjustments if necessary, and avoids
additional frustration or barrier to learning.
CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT ISSUES
Similar to the traditional classroom, the online classroom have several issues/needs that
need oversight and monitoring in order to avoid negative learning outcomes. Some of these
issues include learner feedback, challenging behaviors and learner disabilities.
FEEDBACK
What student doesn’t appreciate timely, relevant, and constructive feedback? In an effort
to increase learner engagement, excitement, participation and interaction, as well as promote
positive learning outcomes, facilitators should provide feedback that is timely, clear, ongoing,
consistent and honest. Examples of feedback in the distance learning environment include:

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Discussion post responses

Assignment feedback and rubrics

Personal and Class messages

Emails or phone calls

CHALLENGING BEHAVIORS
In an online environment, just as in a traditional classroom, challenging behaviors and
situations may come up. Being prepared to handle these behaviors and actively monitoring the
online environment can help ward off these behaviors or squash them before they have disastrous
effects. Some of the behaviors or situations to watch for include:

Conflict between students over different viewpoints and opinions in a discussion thread

Miscommunication or misinterpretation of text

Lack of accountability

Emotional reactions to course materials or discussions
Setting ground rules from the beginning of the course, as well as leading by example can

help avoid these challenging behaviors that could cause tension in the online classroom. If a
challenging behavior or situation arises, facilitators to handle directly, discreetly and promptly.
ACCESSIBILITY
Similar to the traditional classroom, there are certain requirements and accommodations
that must be honored in the online classroom. All learners should have the opportunity to access
course content and materials, regardless of disability. Getting to know the students in the

26
experience and maintaining a level of sensitivity throughout the duration of the course will
provide students with a safe, nurturing and positive learning experience.
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 mandates all federal agencies to make
content available and accessible to those with disabilities. Following the practices set forth in
Section 508 will prevent online facilitators from creating additional, unintentional barriers to
learning.

CONCLUSION
Over the last 3 days, we have taken a comprehensive look at what is required to make a
successful transition from classroom instruction to online facilitation.

Distance learning

facilitators today are faced with a fundamental challenge: “how to reach out effectively to
students who span the spectrum of learning readiness, personal interests, culturally shaped ways
of seeing and speaking of the world, and experiences in that world” (Tomlinson, 2005). Take the
tools, skills, methods and knowledge and create a learning toolbox. The journey doesn’t end
here – it is ongoing and will evolve just as knowledge and skills evolve. "Investing in training is
an investment in people, the organization's most valuable resource" (HR Professionals
Magazine, n.d.).
Best of luck to all of you!

27
References
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http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/affective/efficacy.html
Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2011). The excellent online instructor: Strategies for professional
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