After designing and developing your course, it is time for the instruction to start in the live online environment. One of the critical components for a successful online learning experience is effective facilitation of the course. The learners should be able to absorb the information presented and share their interpretations and knowledge with their peers so that the online environment feels like a collaborative community.
Why is this different online?
Facilitation is arguably the area with the biggest distinction between online and face-to-face learning. In a brick-and-mortar classroom, the instructor’s presence is easily felt because of the physical nature of someone standing in front of a room. Eye contact, body language, and all kinds of human gestures foster an unspoken connection with learners. Additionally, face-to-face environments offer the chance for learners to ask and answer timely topical questions. In an online environment, the instructor must design opportunities to engage learners at the same level. Online instructors should establish a reliable presence through active and consistent participation in discussion forums by offering continual feedback to the group as well as individual learners, in addition to being accessible for questions or check-ins on a regular basis.