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Facilitator Training Program

Carlos R. Herrera

February 20, 2017

CUR/532 Facilitating Online Learning

University of Phoenix

Professor Danene Mims


Facilitator Training Program

Training of Distant learning facilitators must consider that the overall goal of the online

learning environment is to provide training that is equivalent and that achieves the same learning

outcomes of the one students receive in traditional learning (Glew, 2010). The purpose of this

paper is to create a training program for distance learning facilitator trainees that is based on the

following scenario:

Scenario: You have been asked to create a training program for adult education

facilitators or corporate trainers who have no previous experience in distance education. The

training program must include the essential elements for developing distance learning facilitator

skills. The training audience (trainees) will consist of higher education faculty members or

corporate trainers that will use the training to provide instruction in a distance learning


Part I Vital Information in the Facilitator Training

The following training is designed to prepare new online adult learning facilitators to

assume the role as distance learning facilitator. The training is based on the premise that those

students attending this course have little or limited experience in facilitating e-learning

instruction, but are experienced in their respective subject matter areas.

Training Program Audience

The audience for this training consists of adult education facilitators or corporate trainers

with no prior experience in distance education. The following table (Table 1: Training Audience

Assumptions), lists those skills, experience, and level of knowledge assumed from the training


Table 1: Training Audience Assumptions

Current Skill Sets Current Experience Level of Current Knowledge
Are identified as those that It is desirable that these The level of current
the facilitators have gained as facilitators have attained a knowledge assumed for an
a product of attending minimum of an online facilitator is minimal.
More than likely the online
traditional learning or undergraduate degree, and a
facilitators will often hold
corporate instruction. It is level of teaching instruction. advanced degrees in other
expected that these fields giving the facilitator a
facilitators have knowledge high level of subject matter
and comprehension of competence.
learning theories, and of how
students learn.

Training Program Goals

The establishment of clear training goals is an essential element and function of all

training programs. The Online Facilitators training program goals focus on establishing the

differences between traditional and e-learning training and in the peculiarities of online

education. Those differences include the facilitators responsibility in providing motivation, and

in promoting interactivity and student collaboration in teaming assignments.

Training Program Objectives

Objective 1- After viewing the What is eLearning presentation, online facilitators students

will describe the benefits of eLearning.

Objective 2 Given the manual Best Practices Guide for Distance Learning Facilitators

(Glew, 2010), as a handbook, and supporting reference, the student will list and describe five

differences between traditional and online types of learning.


Objective 3 Given the manual Best Practices Guide for Distance Learning Facilitators

online facilitator students will describe the roles of the instructor and students in an

eLearning environment.

Objective 5 Describe useful tips for the facilitator to encourage eLearning effectiveness

using the Best Practices Guide for Distance Learning Facilitators manual.

Objective 6 Using the Neo Learning Management System (LMS) Overview, Online

Facilitator students will list and prioritize with an explanation, the top five features of the


Objective 7 Given the manual Best Practices Guide for Distance Learning Facilitators

(Glew, 2010) the student must define the role of the facilitator in a threaded discussion.

Objective 8 List three of the types of assignments available to the facilitator when using the

NEO LMS, and explain their benefit to facilitators.

Objective 9 Students will list the Top five eLearning Technologies for 2016, and describe

their use in online education.


Trainees Summative Assessment

Students that show progress and mastery in their assigned study areas are more likely to

score higher in their local program and state assessments (Stockard, 2014).

Measurement of Trainee Success Measurement of Program Success

The student will complete informal The success of the student is a good
assessments such as quizzes and other measurement of program success (Stockard,
assessments to demonstrate their knowledge 2014). Upon completion, the success of the
program will be measured by the level of
and mastery of the learning objectives.
mastery achieved by the facilitators and in
Throughout the course the student will work their success in the development of the
on a training program, that will be presented assigned training program. At the end of the
at the end of the course using the NEO LMS. course, the student will also complete
evaluations of the course and overall learning
experience with the facilitator, other
students, and the organization.

Part II Facilitator Skills and Instructional Materials

The role of the facilitator in an online classroom is to keep students actively engaged in

all class activities (Stockard, 2014). Like their counterparts in classrooms, online instructors

need to have a strong content knowledge instruction and assessments as well as formation in the

use of technology to manage online learners (Burns, 2014). Burns (2014), states that the skills of

the online instructors reflect the areas that are often neglected in their formation; and these are:

Skills Needed for Effective Distance Learning Facilitators

Content Knowledge Facilitators must know the content of the material they teach to

communicate that knowledge to their students.

Blend of pedagogy, technology, and content Facilitators must demonstrate how these

are connected, and how to adapt the techniques used in the traditional classroom to the

online environment.

Establish an Online Presence Facilitators need to set the tone by creating a welcoming

presence that encourages participation and communication.

Effective communication skills Facilitators are called to promote collaboration and

meaningful discussions. The facilitator uses communication as a tool to shape and

promote student interaction (Burns, 2014).

Ability to manage learners (in online classes) Facilitators dedicate time to motivate

students by encouraging them to complete their assignments (Burns, 2014). Although is

expected that online students map their learning, the facilitator's role is to encourage that

learning and to interact with students to correct any difficulties that the student might be

experiencing with the online format.

Some of the strategies used to present and reinforce these skills to facilitators include the

use of discussion boards such as Skype, and the use of the NEO LMS, and Facetime on the

iPhone among other tools. These tools provide facilitators with opportunities to establish an

online presence and to communicate with students from any location. Other strategies include

the use of group scenarios to practice interaction using role play, and other group activities.

Phases of Development for Distance Learning Facilitators.

The phases of development for distance learning facilitators include (Palloff & Pratt,


Visitor These includes those facilitators that are new to technology integration, but have

limited experience posting assignments, syllabus or other class materials online.

Novice These facilitators have never taught or taken an online course, but often post

their syllabus online and use technology to supplement the traditional classroom.

Apprentice The apprentice may have taught a few times online, and facilitated some

courses. That experience allows them to have an understanding of the skills needed to

teach online.

Insider These have facilitated more than two online semesters, with multiple courses

per semester, and is proficient in the online environment and the use of course

management technology.

Master Includes those facilitators that taught various online courses, that are masters in

the utilization of the technology, and that are proficient with the skill needed to teach


Each phase of development has a similar stage (Palloff & Pratt, 2011).

Stage 1 Teacher as a learner: Where the teacher gathers, and develop their

technology skills.

Stage 2 Teacher as an adopter: In this stage, the teachers experiments and

practice with different tools and share their experiences in their use.

Stage 3 Teacher as a co-learner: The instructor acknowledges the relationship

between technology and course delivery.

Stage 4 Teacher as reaffirmer or rejector: The instructor develops a sense of

awareness of learning outcomes and ability to see how the use of different

technological approaches impact students learning.

Stage 5 Teacher as Leader: Those experienced instructors become active

researchers and teachers of new members. On this stage, teachers are encouraged

to lead during workshops and to serve as mentors.


Transitioning between stages is different for each instructor and occur based on the

individual training needs and development of each facilitator. Learners transition to the next

stage as they develop the skills and competence of their respective or current stage.

Theories of Distance Learning

According to Munoz (2011), learning theories associated with distance learning are often

a description of distance education programs, learner characteristics or organizational in nature.

The following table (Table 3, Theories of distance learning) provides a description and

application of the three main distance learning theories (Palloff & Pratt, 2011).

Table 3: Theories of Distance Learning

Theory Description Application to Scenarios
Phased Theory This theory builds on the It guarantees a higher level
previously discussed phases of success because students
of development. The theory are expected to perform at a
designated level. That lowers
argues that the path to
the immediate expectancies
mastery occurs in phases or and reduces stress in
incremental steps. facilitator that in turn
increases confidence in their
Learning Community Theory Facilitators learn, share, and Facilitators benefit from the
collaborate in the experiences of other members
development of strategies for of the community. The
sharing of this knowledge is
online facilitation
critical in the development of
facilitators skills and learning
Long Term Theory This approach borrows from Facilitators take advantage of
the other methods with an the experiences of other
emphasis on the future facilitators, with a future view
of becoming mentors
development. The use of
mentors is a great tool to
provide expertise, and advice
to new facilitators.

Theories for Engaging Distance Learners

To keep learners engaged Palloff & Pratt, (2003), suggests that the typical online classroom
has at least 18-19 hours per week of instructor activity. Table 4 (Theories of distance learner
engagement), lists the theories and provide examples and application for their use.

Table 4: Theories for distance learner engagement (Junk, Deringer, & Junk, n.d.)
Theory Examples/Strategies
Adults learn best when their experience is The use of threaded Discussions provides
acknowledged, and new knowledge is built students with the opportunity to share their
on past knowledge and experience. experiences, and use critical thinking.

Adults are both intrinsically and extrinsically Facilitators promote further critical thinking
motivated to learn analysis and reflection from students, by
asking questions that promote student
learning, engagement, and discussion.
Adults are not likely to participate in Keep students involve by providing
learning situations unless they are meaningful discussions that encourage
meaningful to them and adults are pragmatic higher level thinking. That higher-level
interaction enhances student learning.
in their learning and want to apply what they
Facilitators use of chatrooms, and discussion
are learning directly. boards are tools that promote student's
Adults come to learning situations with It is important that the course goals and
personal goals and objectives that may not objectives are used to promote student
align with the planned goals and objectives. learning and achievement of their personal
goals without overloading students with
work. According to Junk, Deringer, & Junk,
(n.d.), often students prefer to work alone
and are confident that they can achieve their
personal goals when doing so.
Adults prefer to be active rather than passive Encourage students to react to each other
learners and learn via collaborative and posts and discussions, and to become a
interdependent means and independently. community that shares learning and skills
with a common learning objective.
Adults are more receptive to learning in The facilitator role is to create a learning
environments that are physically and environment that engages students in the
psychologically comfortable. learning process, and that promotes student
ownership of that process. The role of the
instructor is to provide students with a safe
and friendly environment that allows
students to participate and collaborate in the
classroom activities.

Part III Technology Tools

The popularity of eLearning requires that training departments and organizations secure a

mechanism to manage the content of their learning programs (Litmos, 2017). The choices

include Content Management System (CMS) or a Learning Management System (LMS). A

Content Management System, allows the management of the content from a central location,

with different levels of access to the content in one place. The Learning Management System is

a more robust application that focuses on training control versus version control as is the case

with the CMS (Litmos, 2017).

Learning Platform (LMS/CMS) Used by the Distance Learning Faculty for

Facilitating their Classes

The Facilitator Training Program uses the NEO LMS that allows facilitators to track

student completion of assignments, manage grades and communicate with students, among other

course administrative processes and functions. Using the NEO facilitators can incorporate into

their courses lectures and videos, games, discussions threads, and manage student assignments

including grading and other student feedback.

In addition to the robust management features of the NEO LMS, the class facilitators can

use a series of technology and media tools listed in Table 5, to engage and enhance student

learning, such as the following:

Table 5: Technology and Media Tools (Edutopia, 2017).

Category Tool Description
Audio Podcasts #edchatradio Twitter Chat for
facilitators building
their personal
learning network

The Bedley Brothers Provide strategies

and practical info

Video TED Talks Videos that describe

Edutopia best classroom
practices and provide
strategies for
enhancing education.
Visual and Infographics Piktochart Create attractive and
presentations that
engage students.
Games and Simulations Evoke Engage students in
interactive games, for
individuals and

Some of the tools that facilitators use to engage students and to promote
collaboration among students include:

Google Apps Promotes online collaboration allowing students and instructors to

share and edit documents online and in real time using text and images.

Canvas An LMS used by facilitators to organize student resources, organize

resources and create a space for discussion in their Canvas Site.

Panopto Allows facilitators to record their lectures and to upload them for future
student use.

NEO The LMS selected for the Facilitator Training Program that provides the
student with a suite of features that incorporates chat, video, games and other

Part IV Issues and Classroom Management

The eLearning forum tends to highlight or exaggerate issues related to student

diversity; that is because other channels of communication used to minimize issues in the

traditional classroom are absent in the online classroom (Palloff & Pratt, 2011). Facilitators are

encouraged to minimize the effects and the barriers to learning caused by those issues and to

understand the difference between learners that include:

Table 6: Classroom Management Issues (Haythornthwaite & Andrews, 2011).

Issue Description
Cultural Includes a student perception of the role of the facilitator
based on national and or cultural expectations. In that
instance, any challenge to the instructor occurs outside the
classroom. In some cultures, student defers to the teacher
as a sign of respect, and that can be misinterpreted as
student signal of distancing or lack of involvement.
Facilitators need to be aware of students upbringing,
gender, and economic factors among others and
incorporate learning activities that students can relate to.

Experiential These learners use what they learn to use in daily life
activities. These learners like to share the knowledge they
have acquired to support individual and team goals.

Non-Traditional Learners Frequently referred to as those students that are often

(Prior learning experiences) working full-time, while attending college part-time.
These students have full work load from work, family, and
school and require that the education program provides
them growth and experiences, to better their careers or
start a new one.

Synchronous and Asynchronous Facilitation Skills

The e-Learning environment is divided into two categories Synchronous and

Asynchronous. Synchronous eLearning refers to that training that involves learning using chat

and video conferencing. The learning occurs in real time which allows students to ask questions

to the facilitator and to receive instant feedback via instant messaging hence the name

synchronous (Mindflash, 2017). Synchronous eLearning allows the student to interact with other

students and teachers during the course. Asynchronous learning benefit is that it can be carried

out offline. This training includes training delivered via the web and that uses tools such as

email, and message boards (Mindflash, 2017). Asynchronous training allows students to

complete the course at their pace and uses the internet as the support tool instead of using

eLearning software or participating in online interactive classes.

Facilitators in a Synchronous environment, control the communication within the class, and

often provide input and minimize or eliminate conflicts before they escalate (Palloff & Pratt,

2011). Facilitators in an Asynchronous environment must keep the flow of communication while

assuring that feedback is presented in a timely fashion, increasing student participation and

engagement in the process (Palloff & Pratt, 2011).

Technology Management Issues and Resolutions

A major factor in online learning is the use of technology, the facilitator needs to be

disciplined in the utilization of the technology, and use those technologies that meet the learning

objectives; the technology becomes the vehicle for student achievement (Palloff & Pratt, 2011).

Technology presents issues to facilitators and students, sometimes related to access or the

understanding and familiarity with technology. Some of those issues include Digital Divide,

Digital Spectrum, and Non-Users (Haythornwaite & Andrews, 2011):

Digital Divide The term refers used to describe those with and those without access

to computers and Internet access. The result of this divide has a significant impact on

inclusion and exclusion of the educational activities and the benefits of using the


Digital Spectrum A term that is often used to describe the effects of the Digital

Divide, but it refers mostly to the personal digital capabilities affected by the

telecommunication structures. For example, the student has the computer and access

to the Internet, but this access can be interrupted due to the network issues related to

the telecommunications infrastructure.

Non-Users The term refers to those who have access to the equipment and the

Internet, that are not affected by Digital Spectrum issues, but who are not connected

or not reachable and are resistant to the use of the technology. Of those, there are

some who are digitally uncomfortable due to a lack of skills.

Facilitators support students learning by providing guidance or by using the classroom,

and available learning resources including the use of labs. The facilitator can also refer the

student to tutors or at times there are other students that can assist when working with the

learning teams.

Classroom Management of Issues and Resolutions

Classroom management is not only about managing the technical components of the

classroom, but also includes the management of learners feedback. An important task for every

facilitator is to keep the communication channels open and to provide a safe environment that

promotes respect and learning.

Learner Feedback

Learners feedback must be sincere, and overall it must be timely. Facilitators can

take advantage of the LMS to provide student feedback. Other tools such as discussion posts and

facilitator messages are useful when providing feedback. The facilitator can also use other

means including a telephone call, private messages or interjecting in the learning teams forums

to provide feedback and direction.

Challenging Behaviors

The management of behavior within the Online classroom, requires that facilitators

maintain a presence in the classroom, to be aware of any developments that can affect students;

some of those includes Cyber-bullying, inappropriate posts, and lack of participation or

engagement in classroom activities.

Cyber-bullying According to Twale & De Luca, (2008), people in the academic

environment have become less civil with one another. Cyber-bullying is an issue that

is prevalent in today's social media with at times tragic consequences. By having a

regular presence in the class discussion and messages, facilitators ensure that the

classroom remains a safe environment for all.

Inappropriate posts The online learning environment presents an opportunity for

misbehavior, thanks to the perceived anonymity that is often associated with online


Lack of participation or engagement According to Haythornwaite & Andrews,

(2011), the asynchronous nature of the online discussions because students are not

restrained by having to wait for their turn to communicate, making the participation

more accessible for all students.


The online facilitator program is designed to help students to become better facilitators.

The course provides instruction in some key areas that a facilitator must learn to engage students

in class and to encourage their participation and collaboration.



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