My blended learning book for secondary teachers continues…

Online Learning Platform

Many teachers fear that adopting an online discussion platform will increase instead of decrease their workload. The trick is to use online work to replace and improve what you already do.

For me, online discussions have completely taken the place of the pen and paper worksheets, questions, and activities I used to gauge comprehension and improve analytical skills.

As the teacher and facilitator of your online learning platform, you must first define your role, then make that transparent to your students. Regardless of your facilitation style, it is important that your student know that you do not live online. Otherwise, there will be times when they post something, but you will not respond immediately. They may encounter technical problems that they will need to trouble shoot on their own or wait to discuss with you the next school day. They cannot, and should not, expect to have access to you at all times.

Keeping your role “realistic” is important to ensure that your students work online does actually save you time. Keep in mind that establishing an online community takes time and learning to be an effective facilitator takes practice, but the learning curve is relatively short and the payoff is well worth the work.

Silent Facilitator vs. Involved Facilitator

You can choose to be a silent facilitator or an involved facilitator depending on your objectives. There are benefits to each style of facilitation. It is important that you construct a clear role for your involvement in the online forum so students know what to expect during online discussions.

…chapter discusses each type of role as well as the responsibilities, pitfalls and best practices associated with each.

Feedback welcome! If you are using an online learning platform and have questions, feel free to ask. I want to make sure this chapter answers questions that educators care about. If you are an online facilitator, I welcome tips for this chapter.

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