Moodle for NZ Schools > Teaching and Learning

Designing for e-facilitation

What do we mean by online or e-facilitation?
Online facilitation in a nutshell

Effective online facilitation should engage, guide and motivate learners, and provide a safe and conducive environment for learning and communication exchange for all learners.

Instructional design should support the work of an online facilitator. This is why we need to know what it means to facilitate an online course. It is not within the scope of this course to build your tutoring skills, but we will point you to some useful resources.


An example of how online course designers can support facilitators:

Very often we hear online tutors complaining about their workload. When we have a look at their courses, we usually notice that they are trying to read and reply to nearly every forum posting. This is often a design issue. Activities should be designed to give clear roles to learners and set expectations of how and when a tutor will intervene. The timing of the tutor’s guidance is crucial. Team activities can remove some of the tutor’s workload if we design them so that learners expect comprehensive feedback on the team’s output rather than on each individual posting.


What do we mean by online or e-facilitation?

Facilitation is a pedagogical term that applies to learner-centred approaches to teaching, as opposed to teacher-driven. The teacher’s role is moving from expert to one of facilitation, from ‘sage on the stage’ to ‘guide on the side’.

For the facilitator to be able to be a guide on the side, learning activities need to be designed in such a way that puts the learner at the centre; where the learner controls the activity. The role of the tutor is to support and guide; not lead. A well-designed course needs to support such facilitation strategies.

Online facilitation in a nutshell

A well-designed learning environment can fail to work if the facilitator does not have the range of skills to engage with learners and support them. What are these skills?

While it helps to be familiar with the tools you will use on a daily basis, such as Moodle, this is not the only skill you will need.

The key question is: how do we facilitate the learning process in an online environment?

Online facilitation skills include:

When we design our courses we need to put the tutor in the role of facilitator in our activities. We should also consider writing a ‘tutor guide’ to accompany our course so that we explain the intentions behind how some of our online activities will work.

There are various models to assist online tutors understand the fundamental concepts of facilitation. Some of the more notable are:

The Australian Flexible Learning Network offers a useful overview of these models and more on facilitation in its Quick Guide Series: Effective Online Facilitation.

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