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Facilitator Training Program

Amanda Reagle
February 15, 2016
Melinda Medina

Facilitator Training Program

Part I Vital Information in the Facilitator Training
Training Program Audience
This training program is designed to give traditional secondary educators the tools
necessary to successfully transition to a blended or distance-learning facilitator role. As
technology progresses, the need for blended and fully-online education is on the rise, and
educators benefit from understanding this realm of learning. This program assumes students are
skilled instructors with knowledge of traditional roles, learning theories, and experience with
students of different learning abilities; therefore, the focus is to learn strategies to recognize and
deal with the unique challenges of online facilitation.
Training Program Goals & Objectives
nt Organization

Student Engagemnt


Continuous Feedback

Proper Technology

This three-day training will help new distance learning instructors to:
1. Hone time-management and organizational skills to effectively manage the online classroom.
2. Incorporate various technologies to meet learning objectives in the online classroom.
3. Fully engage with students in the discussion forums.
4. Provide continuous, useful feedback to further student learning.
Summative Assessment
Students will complete a comprehensive exam at the end of the training to gage
understanding of all objectives. Furthermore, a survey to give feedback on training content,

length, and instruction will be completed. Finally, all students will be assigned to a mentor who
will continue to work with the student and receive feedback through the students first facilitation
opportunity. These measures allow this course creator the ability to modify course content and
help former students to meet the needs of past, current, and future facilitators.

Part II Facilitator Skills and Instructional Materials

Training Materials
The four primary needs to create effective distance learning courses are: specific learning
objectives; focused content; engagement activities; and useful feedback (FSU Office of Distance
Learning, n.d.). Facilitators need to practice good time management and organizational skills to
meet the aforementioned needs.
Students in this training course will are given a scenario of general course information
and objectives; from this information, each student will develop more specific learning
objectives, as well as an engagement activity related to a specific objective. Finally, a rubric from
which to develop effective feedback will be created. This practice will give students an idea of
the level of time management and organizational skills needed, as well as how to implement
useful distance learning practices to a course.

Phases of Development for Distance Learning Facilitators

According to Palloff and Pratt (2011), distance learning facilitators move through five
phases of development. The graphic below gives a brief description of each level.

Across all stages, four areas of need are addressed in varying degrees: personal needs,
which focuses on the educator; pedagogical needs, which focuses on the skills and theories
relevant to online teaching; content needs, which focuses on what is being taught; and
technological needs, which deal with the course management system as well as any additional
technology used to advance learning (Palloff & Pratt, 2011). Encouragement, information, and
community of other online educators can assist to break down barriers and become a master
online instructor.
Theories of Distance Learning
Traditional Theories. Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism, and objectivism are
learning theories discussed as part of traditional classroom learning theories for over 100 years.
Distance learning, however, requires a different lens by which to understand how to best meet
student needs.
Transactional Distance Theory. The transactional distance theory, discussed by George
Moore, is a pedagogical concept that describes the relationships between teachers and students
who are separated by space and/or time. The relationship between teacher and student is different
based on the major factors: the quantity of positive mutual interactions (referred to as
dialogue); the program delivery method, or how the course works for each learner; and the
level of autonomy for the learner, meaning how much of the learning is self-directed (Moore,
Connectivism. The connectivism learning theory arose from the proliferation of
information through the increased use of technology. Connectivism supports using others
experiences as a source of knowledge, because one does not have time to learn all things through
personal experience (Siemens, 2005). Communities of learners connect to share information and
experiences to gain knowledge.
Distance Learning Applications. The relative anonymity of distance learning and the
lack of non-verbal cues requires a different level of participation and acceptance from both

instructors and students. Accept learning from experiences that are not ones own, and from
cultures not the same, and work to make every side of a conversation understood and without
Engaging Distance Learners
Achievement Goal Theory. Also called the goal orientation theory, this method of
engagement finds the why behind a learners goal and exploiting that to motivate. Many
scholars believe a person sets goals so that he or she is able to deal effectively with ones
environment with the skills and abilities one has developed (Maehr & Zusho, 2009, p. 79).
Banduras Social Cognitive Theory. Banduras theory centers on self-efficacy, or the
ability to handle problems effectively and become deeply involved in learning and other tasks. In
the next paragraph are Banduras suggestions to improve self-efficacy (Cherry, 2014); however,
both theories can use similar tasks to engage those in a distance learning environment.
Distance Learning Application. To become more competent and feel more self-assured,
courses should offer mastery experiences, or tasks that show a student that he understands the
material presented. Another tactic is sharing experiences that show overcoming obstacles or
moving from being unsure or anxious to successful. Finally, using words of encouragement
during a difficult task or course objective will keep students engaged and more likely to
participate further and learn.

Part III Management and Technology Tools

Mentoring Program Goals and Objectives
Palloff and Pratt (2011) perfectly identify the need for a quality mentoring program for
distance learning facilitators; mentoring is meant as a means to as a way to ensure quality,
improve performance over time, answer immediate questions as they arise, and provide new
online faculty members with someone they can access quickly as problems and concerns
emerge (p. 29). Furthermore, studies have shown that a quality mentoring program can help
retain distance learning teachers (Mandernach, Donelli, Dailey & Schulte, as cited in Palloff &
Pratt, 2011). Mentoring programs can be one-on-one, group mentoring, or a combination
through the use of a primary mentor and an online mentoring community, with both new and
seasoned distance learning instructors. In some mentoring programs, students also help through
community boards.
Mentoring should accomplish a few important objectives for the distance learning
facilitator. First, mentoring should give new online facilitators a place to quickly find support
during the first semester of facilitation. The students should not suffer on account of facilitator
inexperience. Next, mentoring should involve varied levels of academia, to gain a well-rounded
well of knowledge. Adjunct, tenured, online, and traditional instructors should find a way to
collaborate and bring each unique view to the learning environment. Finally, the mentorship
program should be long-term and encourage mentees to become mentors and share knowledge
about technology, continuing education, best practices, and problems with others.
Management and Evaluation Programs
Adjunct faculty pose an interesting problem to manage from a distance, because some
programs try to evaluate adjuncts the same way on-campus faculty are managed and evaluated.
However, research shows developing an online community for adjuncts and faculty to
communicate helps with training, teaching effectiveness, and manageability of human resources
(Palloff & Pratt, 2011).

Using peer evaluation, community and one-on-one mentoring, student surveys, and selfassessment, management can fully evaluate and make any necessary recommendations for
facilitator training in general and for specific distance learning educators. Evaluations will
measure ability to be present in the classroom, give timely feedback, and offer opportunities for
learning enhancement while meeting stated course objectives.
Learning Platforms for Distance Learning in an Educational Setting
The Content Management System, or CMS, is best for use in long-term educational
courses. Another platform called the Learning Management System, or LMS, is best used for
quick training and recording in a corporate setting.
The CMS allows for document uploads without converting to HTML, and is known for
its robust discussion board application (Shankar, 2007). Using this system is less complicated
than the LMS and is less expensive, as well. Documents and videos for lectures are uploaded
from other sources such as Microsoft Word or YouTube. Class and private discussions are
possible through the forums available in the system. Assignment feedback and grades are
provided either through uploading documents or through the grading forums.
Tools to Enhance Student Learning
Facilitators should attempt to use a number of modalities to engage students in the
distance learning environment. Providing links to relevant news media to connect course
objectives with real-world happenings is one way to engage learners. A number of sites are now
available to create infographic and diagrams to simplify objective course material, such as
Venngage, Popplet, and Prezi. Facilitators can use this to create a graphic for troublesome
material, or ask the students to find creative new ways to present information.
Part IV Issues and Classroom Management
Student Collaboration Tools
A number of tools are available to students to work together on a common projects. Wikis
are sites made for users to share and revise content, generally on a particular subject. According
to Malamed (n.d.), wikis can be useful to distance learning teams to solve problems, collaborate


on standards and procedures, and share relevant experiences. In the online classroom, distance
learning team forums are another way for teams to exchange and upload information and set
timelines for projects. Unlike wikis, team forums are unavailable if the school site is down for
any reason. One other tool used for distance collaboration is a videoconferencing tool, such as
Skype. Unlike the aforementioned tools, videoconferencing has to happen in real time so may
not work for all teams, who need the asynchronous reporting.
Distance Learner Types
Cultural. Some learners prefer, based on cultural or societal preference, to have an
instructor-led learning experience, and find it difficult to engage in self-directed learning. These
learners must be slowly coaxed through creative engagement to increase self-efficacy and
Experiential. Experiential learners are those who like to learn by doing. In the distance
learning classroom, facilitators can cater to these types of learners by focusing on a learnercentered approach, offering chances to engage the student with life-like scenarios for learning.
Nontraditional Learners. Nontraditional learners are those who entered into a new
learning environment outside of a traditional schedule and for their own reasons. Distance
learning facilitators should draw from their experience and motivation to motivate others and
drive participation.
Synchronous vs Asynchronous Facilitation
Synchronous learning happens when all parties are present at the same time. Learning is
instructor-led, and students and facilitators have the benefit of solving problems in near real-time
(Slatinsky, 2013). Asynchronous facilitation happens when students and facilitators are able to
learn and engage in the classroom at their convenience. Facilitators of asynchronous classrooms
have the hurdle of keeping students engaged, though they do not interact in real time.
Additionally, these facilitators must scour discussion boards and look for misunderstandings and
misinformation so it does not spread.
Classroom Management Issues and Resolutions


Learner Feedback. Students offer feedback on course content and facilitator

effectiveness through private messages, comments in discussion and assignment threads, and
through phone calls with administrators. Instructors, other students, and institution
administration must consider the circumstances surrounding any feedback, so that it is
constructive rather than retribution based on emotions.
Challenging Behaviors. Cyber-bullying, inappropriate posts, and lack of participation
are problems more common in distance learning arenas. Many schools have codes of conduct in
place which are agreed to prior to course start. A reminder of these standards may be enough to
end these behaviors; however, if the disruption continues, contact school administration to move
this behavior through the proper channels and out of the classroom.
ADA Learners and Strategies. The Americans with Disabilities Act provides protection
from discrimination in education and other areas on the basis of certain covered disabilities.
Those with disabilities who would like to request reasonable accommodations must provide
proper paperwork, as well as provide suggestions for needed accommodations. If a student
identifies himself to a facilitator first, the facilitator should refer the student to the disability
service representative for the school. Reasonable accommodations at one school uses such
examples as additional time on unit assignments and postings, advance copy of syllabus/course,
textbooks on audiotape or electronic format, [or] verbal explanation of assignments (Capella
University, n.d., What academic accommodations are available?).
This course is created to assist experienced traditional instructors move to the online
classroom, adapting the skills they already have to benefit the many students who need them.
This explanation has touched on the highs, lows, and help available during this transition. Please
look to this program as a starting point for a successful distance learning facilitator career path.


Capella University. (n.d.). ADA compliance for learners with disabilities. Retrieved from
Cherry, K. (2015). What is self-efficacy?. Retrieved from
FSU Office of Distance Learning. (n.d.). Introduction: Designing for online learning. Retrieved
from https://distance.fsu.edu/instructors/designing-online-learning
Malamed, C. (n.d.). Using wikis for learning and collaboration. Retrieved from
Maehr, M. L., & Zusho, A. (2009). Handbook of motivation at school. Retrieved from
Moore, M. G. (1993). Didactic underpinnings. Retrieved from http://www.c3l.unioldenburg.de/cde/support/readings/moore93.pdf.
Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2011). The excellent online instructor: Strategies for professional
development. Retrieved from The University of Phoenix eBook Collection database.
Shankar, V. (2007, February 20). CMS and LMS - A comparison. ContentManagementNews.
Retrieved from http://www.contentmanagementnews.com/cms-and-lms-a-comparison2007-02
Siemens, G. (2005, January). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. International
Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, 2(1).
Retrieved from http://www.itdl.org/journal/jan_05/article01.htm
Slatinsky, D. (2013, June 26). Synchronous or asynchronous? How to pick your training delivery
method. Learning Solutions Magazine. Retrieved from