Four Stages of Online Facilitiation

The Assessing Online Facilitation (AOF) assessment instrument developed at Humboldt State University may be a valuable tool to identify and align with best practices when teaching online.

The tool outlines best practices for facilitating online in four stages: prior to the course beginning, during the first week, throughout the course and during the final week.  A broad overview of the tool is outlined below:

Before Course Begins

  • If the course has been run before, review the course to determine if enhancements for course design and instructional strategies are required (P)
  • Send informational message including how to login, what materials are needed and where to find them, and how to get in touch (M)
  • Test the course navigation for accessibility and correct any accessibility problems (T)

During First Week of Class

  • Create an ice breaker activity related to a key course objective or concept.  Communicate with learners frequently to build a positive rapport (P)
  • Contact learners who have not logged in to encourage their participation.  Provide support information as needed (M)
  • Provide instructions on using the technology  to help learners feel comfortable in the online environment. Assist learners with login/access difficulties (T)
  • Provide a personal and welcoming introduction to develop online presence and engage your learners. Create a discussion forum for learners to post introductions and share experiences. Respond to each learner's introduction. Invite and encourage learners to use online office hours and/or to make appointments (S)

Throughout Course

  • Contribute to and summarize discussions.  Respond to learners questions and queries promptly.  Create transitions from one topic to the next to help leaners recognize time on task (P)
  • Remind learners of upcoming deadlines. Update the online grade book promptly after assignment due dates.  Monitor attendance and activity online in order to follow up with missing participants (M)
  • Model competency with course management system delivery tools (T)
  • Organize and failitate collaborative projects to achieve strong social interaction.  Provides individual personalized messages (email, postings, announcements) of encouragement and achievement (S)

During Final Week of Class

  • Provide feedback on final projects (P)
  • Provide general information concerning the nature and format of the final assessment(s). Alert learners on how long course materials will continue to be available after the end of class (M)
  • Send an email with a closing personal message to learners. Encourage learners to share their class experience and make final comments in a closing forum (S)