Course Overview

Site: RRU Open Educational Resources
Course: OER-Facilitating Learning Online (Fundamentals) [version retired April 2020]
Book: Course Overview
Printed by: Guest user
Date: Wednesday, 21 October 2020, 8:45 AM


Includes information on the scope and purpose, learning outcomes, participation guidelines, course activities and content.

Workshop Context and Purpose

The FLO workshop introduces research-based online learning concepts, principles and strategies that can make online facilitating fun and effective. It builds on the fundamental principles of the face-to-face Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW). These principles include:

  • participatory and learner-centred — participants form a learning community and support each other's learning
  • a safe, respectful learning environment — you will be encouraged to take risks, be creative, and learn from your mistakes
  • feedback-rich — you will be encouraged to give and receive feedback with fellow participants
  • reflective practice — you will analyze and critically reflect on the art of facilitation and your facilitation skills
  • relevant and meaningful — you will explore the future application and transferability of your learning in this course

FLO is meant to help you enhance skills needed to confidently and effectively facilitate online learning. It is designed to provide you with:

  • the experience of being in the students' shoes;
  • the opportunity to think about, practice and develop your online facilitation skills with other new and experienced online facilitators;
  • the opportunity to deepen your learning as you synthesize your observations, reading and online activities in your journal.

Like the face-to-face Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW), where participants plan and teach "mini-lessons", in FLO you will facilitate a short learning activity (often referred to as a "mini-session") for your fellow FLO participants. Depending on the size of the class, facilitation is done individually or in small groups, and involves using online tools such as forums, wikis and polls.

Feedback from past FLO participants indicates that this hands-on practice was key to their enjoyment of the course and the synthesis of their learning. We hope the same holds true for you!

In a nutshell, this is what you will be doing in this workshop:

  • facilitate, or co-facilitate, a pre-designed learning activity on a given topic;
  • integrate adult and online learning theories and principles into activities you facilitate;
  • experiment with a variety of learning-facilitation techniques and strategies;
  • give and receive constructive feedback;
  • work in online teams;
  • reflect on, and plan how to apply, what you have learned to other courses and contexts.

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FLO Learning Outcomes

The use of learning outcomes (rather than instructional objectives) draws from the fields of adult learning and online learning; both fields have shifted to focus on the learner, and the instructor's role is perceived to be a "facilitator of learning" rather than on the instructor as "expert."

This is a list of key themes related to successful online facilitation, and accompanying learning outcomes (LOs) for this workshop. At the end of this workshop, you should be (better) able to apply these to your planning and teaching online. 

Build & sustain online community

  • Reflect on the experience of online learning community
  • Explore the role of instructor presence in online learning

Support diverse learners online

  • Identify ways to help diverse learners online
  • Use facilitation strategies and tools to address needs of adult learners

Facilitate collaborative and individual learning 

  • Facilitate collaborative group and individual activities online
  • Explore group dynamics in online collaborative activities

Constructive feedback and assessment

  • Demonstrate effective feedback and assessment
  • Critically reflect on feedback and course experiences to self-evaluate work and learning

Manage the online course environment

  • Explore effective strategies to manage workload
  • Improve use of tools within an online learning environment 

Workshop Structure and Layout

The information you see in the course is structured in three columns:

Column 1 provides access to navigation menu and administrative detail, such as the Participants area, to find who else is in the course

Column 2 features the course content and activities, in sections

Column 3 features the Quick Links block - a quick way to find and search forums in the course, and additional helpful resources which sit outside the course

screenshot of main page of course

Layout of Sections

If you look down the left site (Column 1), the navigation goes as follows:

The Hub is the first section of the site where you will find resources and discussion forums that you'll need to use for the entire course. You will return to the Hub over and over again.

The Weekly sections are located just after the Hub. Click on each link in the Navigation section (Column 1 above) to see what is happening during that week of the course. We will move through these in order throughout the course.

The Facilitation Teams Workspace section at the bottom is where you will find your team planning forum and a detailed activity plan for the learning activity your team will facilitate.

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Roles of Your FLO Facilitators

Throughout FLO, you'll notice that our role as workshop facilitators changes, depending on what's going on in each week.

In the beginning, we play a more active role in facilitating the learning activities, posing questions, and answering queries from you and your fellow participants. 

After our modelling of facilitation during the Week 1 discussion activity, we'll step back a bit to make way for you to lead the discussions and other activities (i.e., your team facilitated activities). We'll assist in the planning and organization of each session and participate in the feedback cycle (and overall course management), but we'll expect that you will take on an increasingly active role in the maintenance of the online learning community.

So, although we may not participate in all of the activities, we are actively monitoring what's happening and seeking ways to enhance the learning opportunities available to you as session facilitators and participants.

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FLO Learning Activities

The key learning activities each week in FLO are:

  • Overview: Found at the top of each week, the overview book provides an explanation of the focus and theme for the week as well as notes and additional readings/media
  • Weekly Activity: You will either take part in co-facilitating a mini-session or participating in a mini-session each week. You will only co-facilitate for one week of the course.
  • Give Feedback: If you have been a participant in the weekly activity (as opposed to one of the facilitators), you will be asked to provide constructive feedback to the week's mini-session facilitators
  • FLIF Reflection: At the end of the week that you co-facilitate the mini-session, you will complete and submit a "FLIF" (Feel, Like, Improve, Feedback) reflection.
  • Journal Share: Reflect and record the what, so what and next steps you will take away from FLO in your learning journal, and share a "nugget" or two with everyone each week in the Weekly Journal Share Forum. Include in your post your self-assessment of your own participation using the FLO Rubric. During the last week of the course, that week's team of facilitators will ask you reflect back on your participation and learning journal posts that you made throughout the course.

When facilitating weekly activities

During the FLO workshop, you will facilitate a learning activity on a pre-assigned topic for your fellow FLO participants. You will be assigned to a team and topic. Teams typically have 2-3 members depending on class size.

All mini-sessions are weekly activities that take place over five days of the course. Each activity plan can be found in the Facilitation Teams' Workspace section and provides information you will need to facilitate the session effectively. To save time, and help you focus on learning and trying new facilitation techniques and skills, we've designed the activity for you. One of the FLO facilitators will be your lead support during the week.

Your FLO facilitator can assist you as you prepare to facilitate your activity and with using any tools. Use the planning forum in your section of the Facilitation Teams' Workspace to develop your plan together, keep the FLO facilitator up-to-date on progress and coordinate your facilitation tasks during your mini-session.

When participating in weekly activities

When you are not facilitating your own mini-session, you will be a participant in others' mini-sessions. Your role of participant is KEY!

During this time you are asked to:

  • Actively participate as a student. Please try to participate equally in all sessions. This ensures all facilitators have an equal opportunity to practice their skills.
  • Provide timely and constructive feedback to the mini-session facilitators each week.
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Participation Guidelines


FLO is a participatory and cohort-based course.

To derive maximum benefit, and to be fair and supportive to your colleagues, you need to participate fully in online activities and discussions.

FLO requires commitment on your part. We recommend that you set aside 6 - 12 hours per week for online activities and course readings. You can expect to spend more time during the week you are facilitating. Also, the time you spend will vary depending on the number of optional readings you do and how much effort you put into the activities. In any case, plan to log into the course several times each week (daily would be best).

If, for some reason (work, travel, etc.), you will be without online access for a day or two, please let all FLO participants know in advance. It is important that you arrange to meet your participation requirements before or immediately after you get back online. (Note: If you plan to be away from the course for a week or more due to a work or personal commitment, please connect with the FLO facilitators asap to discuss whether this is the right time for you to take this course.)


Participating in online discussions requires clear communication; your goal is to post succinct, pertinent, thought-full comments.

Your colleagues will appreciate postings that:

  • are relevant: on topic, relate to assigned readings
  • are brief, but dense: information dense (say a lot in the least number of words)
  • are well-crafted: clear, well-organized, logical
  • are respectful, culturally appropriate, and constructive
  • are connected, integrated, synthesized: readings, others' postings, and your experience is woven together
  • provide evidence of analytical thinking and/or critical reflection
  • bring in new new ideas or resources that enrich the discussion
  • advance the thinking, learning, and dialogue of the group

It's important we demonstrate presence to create a stronger online community. To develop your online presence, be active and aware of other participants in the class. You need not respond to each post, but do notice whether all posts are acknowledged by someone. Tending to team members' learning needs will enrich everyone's learning and the energy of the team.

An important aspect of participatory and cohort-based learning is group/team maintenance. For such courses to achieve their educational potential, students need to take care of each other and support each other's learning. Replying to another student's post with a simplistic ”yes”, “I agree” or “good job” is rarely useful and can clutter up a discussion thread. Thinking of something new and substantive to say can be challenging, but it can also push you and deepen your own learning.

While each FLO learning activity may have different participation requirements, as a rule you should try to post at least two thoughtful, insightful or provocative messages per week, per activity.

In addition to this, please pay attention and contribute to the functioning and maintenance of the group. Be aware of any tension between group process and task completion. Work with your team to find a balance between discussing topics thoroughly and producing quality work efficiently.

A Facilitation Tip

As a facilitator, you may want to identify criteria that you will use to assess participants' participation. You can find examples of rubrics and how-to information in this reading: Assessing Online Participation: Exploring the Problem & Possible Solutions (pdf).

Putting in the time to identify criteria and to develop a system or method, at the start of your course, will make your work easier when it comes to assessing participation in online discussions.

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FLO Rubric

Successful completion of the Facilitating Learning Online: Fundamentals course requires that you take on two different roles in the workshop: participant and facilitator. Here is the performance criteria associated with each role.

Team Facilitation (Facilitator Role)

Criterion Level 1:
Level 2:
Level 3:
Plan effectively with team member(s)
  • Connects with team members late
  • Sends incomplete or disjointed communications
  • Limited availability to devote to planning
  • Connects with other team members early
  • Communicates ideas for mini-session early and clearly
  • Participates with team to create instructions, timeline and support suggestions
  • Stays connected with team and FLO facilitators - particularly at crucial times (prior to launch)
  • Reviews Activity Plan, learning outcomes and week’s topic and readings before planning
  • Proposes workable plan and helps organize how facilitation tasks will be divided among team members
Communicate goals and roles for mini-session
  • Awaits direction from others about how to participate in the development of the mini-session
  • Assists in communicating objectives, steps, tasks, timelines and what is expected of participants to successfully complete the mini-session
  • Refers frequently to objectives, learning outcomes
  • Develops an effective strategy to keep participants on-task and monitor progress
Guide participants through the activity
  • Puts minimal effort into collaborating with team member(s) to provide support during mini-session
  • Is difficult to reach when problems or concerns arise
  • Monitors mini-session activities
  • Liaises with team members to ensure questions or concerns are answered quickly
  • Identifies when reminders should be posted
  • Posts/coordinates mini-session wrap-up
  • Scaffolds the participants’ learning
  • Posts prompts or suggestions to deepen learning or to engage learners
Demonstrates strategies to encourage community
  • Does not communicate with participant groups
  • Seldom supports or encourages peer-to-peer interactions
  • Encourages communication among participants
  • Reframes questions to include the group
  • Interjects comments or questions to encourage participants to notice and build on others’ contributions
  • Structures activities that promote peer-to-peer interactions.
Reflective Practice
  • Focuses on the participants' experience, rather than consider their learning and feedback
  • Does not relate the mini session experience to personal performance as a facilitator
  • Documents the facilitation experience thoroughly
  • Shows thoughtful consideration of participants' learning and overall experience
  • Considers the intended learning outcomes when reflecting on participants' learning
  • Offers insights into personal growth and future practice


Weekly Participation (Participant Role)

Criterion Level 1:
Needs Improvement
Level 2:
Level 3:
  • Contributions are not related to the topic or readings
  • Remarks tend to be short
  • Contributions offer new insights and prompt further discussion
  • Ideas from the readings are incorporated
  • Demonstrates understanding of readings and contributions of others
  • Takes the discussion to a deeper level by asking questions or drawing conclusions
Foster the development of online community
  • Rarely acknowledges others’ contributions, or does so without building on their ideas (e.g. “I agree”)
  • Responds only when directly questioned
  • Tends to post from a personal perspective
  • Demonstrates awareness of the role of community in learning
  • Regularly responds to other participant’s postings
  • Provides feedback each week to mini-session facilitators
  • Reaches out to help other participants when possible
  • Postings in forums are inclusive
  • Substantial and frequent contributions weave together and extend ideas
  • Frequently attempts to motivate group discussion
Engages in the activities
  • Infrequent participation
  • Little or no communication with peers or co-facilitators
  • Absent without communicating schedule or unexpected situations
  • Participates in each activity (or informs others of inability to participate)
  • Provides feedback to mini-session facilitators
  • Contributions are timely, considerate, and aim to advance learning and facilitation skills
  • Encourages others to participate, develops/demonstrates facilitator skills
Reflective practice
  • Reflections on the workshop experience and activities are infrequent or very brief
  • Regularly shares selected journal items that highlight personal learning and insights
  • Notices key ideas and strategies from both readings and colleagues, and considers implications for practice


This summary table is a useful way to record your weekly participation as outlined in the Rubric.

  1. Calculate your weekly score (1, 2, or 3) for each criteria over each week.
  2. What is your calculated weekly total scores? Maximum weekly total is 4x3 = 12
  3. Reflect: What are your critical strengths and areas needing improvement?
Criterion Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Criteria Total


Fosters the development
of online community


Engages in the activities


Reflective practice


Week Total (down)







Tip: You may want to copy and paste the table into your own document or spreadsheet.

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Privacy & Confidentiality

Understanding privacy

Trust is an essential part of a successful FLO. Our learning relies on the exchange of honest, constructive feedback, and we need to agree that our online learning environment will be private and confidential. Always seek permission to share content posted by participants.

During the workshop we often use social media and free online services to complete workshop activities. If you choose to include these services when you facilitate your mini-session, please ensure that you are familiar with the levels of privacy available, how the information will be stored and shared, and that any participants you involve are also aware of these aspects. 

Thank you for doing your part.

Access to this workshop space

This FLO offering is accessible by the workshop participants, facilitators, and occasionally website administrators who we may call upon to assist with technical issues and editing. You will continue to have access to the workshop content and participants' contributions after the end date, and for as long as this website is supported.

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About the Workshop Content

The materials and design of this workshop build on the open educational resource that has been available in various iterations through Royal Roads University (RRU) since 2005. The design is based on the Instructional Skills Workshop in that activities provide an authentic environment for faculty to learn about and practice skills related to facilitating learning. 

Important differences between the face-to-face ISW and the FLO:

  • FLO is about online facilitation, and learning, whereas the ISW is about teaching in face-to-face settings.
  • The topics you will be facilitating in FLO are about teaching and learning, whereas ISW lessons are on any topic.

In September, 2013 the workshop was revised and implemented at BCcampus - SCoPE for the first time. Since that date FLO has been revised and offered many times, awarding certificates to faculty and staff from post-secondary institutions across the province.

In February 2015, the name of the workshop changed from Instructional Skills Workshop Online (ISWO) to Facilitating Learning Online (FLO), to more closely reflect the focus on online facilitation.

In February 2016, FLO-FDO facilitators participated in a 2 day Design Sprint to integrate a new design and delivery model for FLO, incorporating feedback from participants and graduates of Facilitating Learning Online (FLO) and Facilitator Development Online (FDO) workshops. The "new" FLO deepens the emphasis on facilitation and collaborative learning and scaffolds the team facilitation activities more effectively.

Creative Commons License
This workshop is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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