The facilitator plays a vital role in developing and maintaining an online
program that is effective, smooth, and that will support the realization of
the planned learning outcomes. Faculty delivering courses online must be more
than transmitters of knowledge; they must become facilitators of learning.
Some highly seasoned instructors from the traditional on-ground environment
will easily adapt to the online model, while others may find the transition
challenging at first. The facilitator in the online environment must possess
a unique set of tools to perform effectively. Reflect on your teaching style
to see where you might find room for improvement.
Some of the basic criteria for a person to be successful as an online facilitator
Facilitators in the online arena are generally
considered to be clinical. That is, they have a broad
base of life experiences in addition to academic credentials.
The online model is an applied learning model and it requires facilitators
that know what the real world is about. Experience is a good supplemental
teacher and builds a level of understanding with the issues. Online facilitators
are required to be active and experienced in real world applications
of their subject matter and to have a solid grasp of the issues being
taught. Current knowledge of practices within the subject matter being
taught is expected to be a key part in providing a usable education.
The personality of the facilitator should demonstrate the characteristics
of openness, concern, flexibility, and sincerity.
An online instructor must be able to compensate for the lack
of physical presence in the virtual classroom by creating a supportive
all students feel comfortable participating and especially where students
know that their instructor is accessible. Failure to do this can alienate
the class both from each other and from the instructor and would make a very
weak learning environment. Online students are as busy, or busier than anyone
else in todays hurried world is. The students are the customers and
are expecting to be treated as such. Being sensitive, open and flexible is
not an option, it is a requirement.
A successful online facilitator should feel comfortable communicating
The face-to-face contact traditionally available in a classroom setting is
gone in the online learning process. The ability to verbally communicate
is replaced with a keyboard. The communication is intense and demanding.
The faculty person must feel good about communicating in writing because
that is a base element in the process.
The person should be able to accept the value of facilitated
learning as equal to the traditional model.
If a teacher feels the only way a true learning process can take place is
through the traditional means of educating in a classroom, the person is
generally not right for the online paradigm. Both an accelerated learning
model and the online process depend on facilitative techniques for their
success. You cannot duplicate the on-ground classroom in the online paradigm.
The person leading a successful online class will be a proponent of facilitative
The person should be able to subscribe to the value of introducing
critical thinking into the learning process.
This is a given in the online learning process. The process is designed to
facilitate the easy assimilation of theory into concept and application.
Students are expecting to receive knowledge and abilities that are usable
today. What is learned today can be taken to the work place today. This requires
the ability to think critically. There are a plethora of options available
to the properly trained facilitator for accomplishing this.
They should have the appropriate credentials to teach the subject
Appropriate credentials are a combination of many factors including academic
preparation, a current and substantial experience base in the areas being
taught, and the desire to be part of the process of imparting knowledge.
The faculty member then needs to be trained and/or experienced in the particular
learning model to be used.
They should be experienced and well trained in online learning
Knowledge of the use of the tools used in facilitating online programs, the
appropriate methods used in communicating with online students, the ability
to control the flow of work in the virtual classroom, and how to prepare
a course for presentation in the online environment are just a few of the
expectations placed on a facilitator. The faculty member must feel comfortable
with these methods and the technologies needed to implement them, and this
can be gained through exposure to training in online instruction.
What should participants of the online learning experience
expect from the facilitator?
The students should expect that the facilitator would create a learning
environment that utilizes life, work, and educational experiences as
key elements in the learning process in order to make it meaningful.
The facilitator should be able to present the curriculum in a manner
that allows the student to easily translate theories into applications.
The students should be given the proper tools to transcribe theory
Every student should be given every opportunity to improve until the
learning experience comes to an end.
Reasonable accommodations for the students' needs and desires should
The facilitator should solicit feedback from the students and listen
throughout the entire process.
The facilitator should be concerned about the students' success.
The facilitator should keep students aware of where they stand with
respect to the course evaluation process on a regular basis (i.e. weekly
updates of what has been turned in and what is missing).
The facilitator should give the student timely and quality feedback
on student contributions to discussion, homework, and quizzes.
The student should expect little or no lecturing. Lecturing yields
marginal results in the online environment.
The student should not be subjected to tests requiring memorization.
Case analysis would be more appropriate.
The student should be treated politely and with respect.
The facilitator should be online everyday (at a minimum 5 of 7 days).