Unit 1 | Introduction to facilitation (4 weeks)


In this unit, we will begin by exploring your own concepts of what good facilitation is. We will bring together ideas from topics that you have studied in the past (e.g., theories of learning, learning design, design thinking) and combine them with online learning facilitation ideas (e.g., instructor and social presence) to prepare you to design and facilitate student-centred learning experiences.

We will be situating our facilitation work around developing a learning community within the Community of Inquiry framework, which will be introduced and discussed, paying close attention to the concept of teaching presence. We will also be exploring facilitation techniques specific to both asynchronous and synchronous online learning modalities.

This is a logistically busy unit as you prepare and design your facilitation weeks. In the first half of the unit, you will be forming facilitation teams, choosing facilitation topics, and orienting yourself to some of the technologies we will use in this course. In the second half of the unit, you will begin developing your facilitation weeks with your team and ask for and receive input from your instructor. Your goal is to have a functional module developed and ready to be delivered by the end of the unit.

You have 2 assignments in this unit. The first individual assignment is to develop an Infographic and accompanying blog post centred around the 3 presences of the Community of Inquiry model. The second team assignment is the completion of a facilitation plan by the end of week 4. However, before you submit your facilitation plan in week 4, one member of your facilitation team will post a draft of that facilitation plan to their blog for me to review and provide feedback on by the end of week 3.

Learning Activities

Week 1

Week 2

  • Activity 2-1: Participate in Mattermost discussion
  • Activity 2-2: Form your facilitation team, choose topic & pick a facilitation week

Week 3

  • Activity 3-1: Participate in Mattermost discussion on synchronous & asynchronous facilitation
  • Activity 3-2: Teamwork designing & developing  Assignment 2
  • Activity 3-3: Test your access to Moodle Innovate and orient yourself to Moodle. (if you wish to use Moodle Innovate for your facilitation week)
  • Activity 3-4: Post a draft facilitation plan on blog

Week 4

  • Activity 4-1: Gallery walk. View and respond to class Infographic & blog posts
  • Continue planning your facilitation week
  • Continue participating in Mattermost discussions

Assignments due this Unit

Activity 1-1 | Orient yourself to the course

View the course overview video, review the course and unit schedules to get a sense of the flow of the course, and read through the course assignments.

Activity 1-2 | Test your access to Mattermost

Class discussion will take place in an online space called Mattermost. It is an open-source chat tool similar to Slack. If you are interested in why I am using Mattermost for this class instead of the Moodle discussion forums, you can read a blog post I wrote about my rationale.

You will need to create an account on Mattermost to use it. In the welcome email I send you in week 1 to kick off the course there will be a special link to sign up for a Mattermost account. Follow the link, create a username and password, and enter the Mattermost LRNT 528 chat area.

Once you enter the chat area, I will want you to do 3 things. The first two involve changing your account settings, which you can access in the top left corner of Mattermost.

  1. Update your user profile to add a photo of yourself that will be used in Mattermost as your avatar. These images are important as they are one way to help you establish social presence in an online learning space. To add an Image, Click on Main Menu > Account Settings > General > Profile Picture (scroll to the bottom of the pop-up to access Profile Picture)
  2. Change your email notifications. This is optional, but you may find it useful to turn on email notifications for the first while of the course just to get a reminder that this space is up and operating. These notifications will be sent to you when someone mentions you in the Mattermost space, which is done using the @ symbol followed by a username. If the email volume gets too much, you can adjust it in this area later on. To change your email notifications, go to Notifications > Email notifications and set it to Immediate to get an email when you are mention in the Mattermost space.
  3. Post a short welcome message in the Main Channel. Please include @clintlalonde somewhere in your message as this will notify me that you have made it into Mattermost. In Mattermost, you can use the symbol “@” followed by a persons username to notify them directly about your message. So, to make sure I get notified, use the term @@clintlalonde in your message and I will be notified that you are in the room.

Activity 1-3 | Record & post a short personal reflection video

Prior to doing this activity, please read the Bull (2013) course reading. After you have read the article, I would like you to record a short (maximum 3 minute) video where you reflect on a previous facilitated learning experience you have had where you found the facilitator to be exceptional or outstanding. This experience could be in a previous online or face-to-face course you have taken, a professional development workshop or training course, or some other formal or informal learning experience. Describe the experience. Upon reflection of the event, which of Bull’s eight roles did your exceptional facilitator demonstrate, and how did they demonstrate it? Other than the eight roles described by Bull, did the facilitator demonstrate any other qualities that made the event exceptional in your mind? What were they?

Once you have recorded your video, post it to the General Class Discussion Forum in Moodle.

Activity 1-4 |3-2-1 blog post

By the end of week 1, I would like you to write a blog post on your initial response to the topic of digital facilitation using a format known as 3-2-1.  There are no right or wrong answers in this activity. The blog post is meant to be a starting point that you will revisit at the end of the course to see how your own thoughts and ideas on digital facilitation have changed over the course.

Your blog post is meant to quickly capture your initial thoughts about digital facilitation and follow this 3-2-1 structure.

  • 3 initial thoughts, ideas or feelings you have about facilitation in digital environments.
  • 2 questions you have about digital facilitation.
  • 1 metaphor or simile about digital facilitation. This can be text or an image but should be something that metaphorically captures and represents your own thoughts on digital facilitation.

This is not meant to be a long activity, so keep your blog post to no more than 300 words using headings and lists to differentiate between the three sections.

Activity 2-1 | Participate in Mattermost discussion

After you have done the week 1 and 2 course readings, you can participate in the discussion on Mattermost. Our discussion will revolve around what a facilitator needs to do to set the stage for a successful learning experience, and look to turn the theoretical Community of Inquiry into more practical and pragmatic items that you can work with as a facilitator. I will be posting some prompting questions about the CoI framework in the CoI Channel in Mattermost, specifically how the framework relates to facilitation.

Activity 2-2 | Form your facilitation team, choose your topic, and pick a facilitation week

More details on how the facilitation weeks will be structured and a sign-up sheet are available on this Google Doc.

Activity 3-1 |Participate in Mattermost discussion on synchronous and asynchronous facilitation

During weeks 3 & 4 there will be a Mattermost discussion on synchronous and asynchronous facilitation in Mattermost.

Activity 3-2 | Teamwork designing & developing  Assignment 2

This week is a planning week for you and your facilitation team. During this week, you should be meeting and communicating regularly with your teammates as you plan your week of facilitation. You should be discussing and creating learning objectives, finding and vetting appropriate content (readings, videos, etc), designing activities, and making technology decisions on platforms you will use to deliver the content. See Assignment 2 for more information.

Activity 3-3 | Test your access to Moodle Innovate and orient yourself to Moodle. (if you wish to use Moodle Innovate for your facilitation week)

If you are planning on using Moodle Innovate Now for your facilitation week, please test that you can log in to Moodle Innovate Now with your RRU credentials. Note that Moodle Innovate Now is a different Moodle platform than the one we use for our class. Moodle Innovate Now is located at https://innovate.royalroads.ca/now/

Activity 3-4 | Post a draft facilitation plan on one team members blog

By the end of the first week, I would like one of your team members to post on their blog a brief outline of your facilitation week plan (see Assignment 2). The plan does not need to be complete at this point, but I do want enough of an idea to get a sense as to what you are planning. Remember: don’t overplan your week. One main activity will likely be plenty. A good week can be as simple as a good reading, interactive synchronous session, and a rich asynchronous discussion.

Activity 4-1 | Digital Gallery Walk: View and respond to class infographics and blog posts

Do a digital gallery walk around your classmate’s blog posts and infographics and post a comment on their blog. What do you notice about the infographic? How are their infographic and rationale similar or different from yours? Pick one that resonates with you and leave some meaningful feedback for your classmate (for more on meaningful feedback, see the RRU CTET recommendations on leaving good feedback). It does not have to be an extensive critique of their work. Just make a point or two about what stands out to you about their infographic and/or blog post. And if someone posts a comment on your post, remember to respond to their comment.