Saturday, February 4, 2017

Introducing FLO-Synchronous

*Register for the next FLO - Synchronous February 27 - March 17*

In December, 2016 we ran a workshop pilot at BCcampus called Facilitating Learning Online (FLO) - Synchronous. The outcome is a fine-tuned, brand new workshop to include in the Facilitating Learning Online family of offerings.

The idea for this workshop emerged through participation in the FLO - Fundamentals, an intensive 5-week workshop which engages faculty and staff in both participant and facilitator roles and they learn about key themes related to effective planning and online facilitation. There is a synchronous component in that workshop, but it's not enough to dig into the best practice strategies to plan and facilitate learning in real time. The FLO Stewardship Group identified a need for a 'going deeper' workshop to help prepare education practitioners.

FLO - Synchronous  was designed and developed by Beth Cougler Blom, a facilitator and learning designer who has been involved in FLO from early days. Beth used a very innovative approach for this design -- participants choose how they want to engage.
  1. Reviewing Participants review and provide feedback to Practicing Facilitators
  2. Practicing Facilitators complete a facilitation of a synchronous online session, and benefit from the feedback of Reviewing Participants
By setting up these tracks, individuals begin the workshop knowing they will be within their comfort level based on prior experience, expertise, and willingness to jump in to practice. Everyone leaves knowing what their next steps will be, which, for Reviewing Participants, might include returning to the workshop to try their hand at facilitating a session and being reviewed by their peers. And so on.

For this pilot we introduced yet another new role: Observer. As with the first run of any workshop, there is a lot to notice and keep track of. For the designer/facilitator, it's difficult to stand back far enough to really get a feel for how others are experiencing the course. And feedback from participants may not be thorough enough. The Observers in this pilot, Rachel Logenberg, Sylvia Riessner, and Sylvia Currie, watched from the sidelines and provided recommendations on any tweaks to the content and design. (We're repeating this Observer process with another new pilot -- FLO - Design)

In addition to ongoing Observer feedback, the pilot evaluation included a post workshop anonymous questionnaire, and two synchronous reflections/debriefs, one with all participants and the next with Beth and the 'observer' team.

Survey results (7 respondents - Faculty, learning designers, instructional designers, instructors):

How would you rate the quality of this learning/professional development experience?
-  High quality:
  6 (85.71 %)
-  Fair:
  1 (14.29 %)
-  Low quality:

 How much time did you spend on the course activities?
-  Less than 6 hours per week:

-  6-8 hours per week:

-  More than 8 hours per week:

Overall, how satisfied were you with the FLO-Synchronous workshop?
-  Very satisfied:
  6 (85.71 %)
-  Satisfied:
  1 (14.29 %)
-  Not Satisfied:
2  0

Selected comments

The feedback comments provided by participants were very thorough and helpful. There are too many to list, so here is a fairly random selection.
  • Awesome, I challenged myself to use the different tools in different ways so that I could learn different aspects. 
  • Make it longer than three weeks. It seems a bit rush with different activities each week.
  • Allowing students to host and facilitate sessions was good idea. Also giving students the choice of facilitation or reviewing was a good idea. 
  • Although I believe the course was designed for people with at least some asynchro online experience, it was very informative for a complete newbie, without any online experience.
  • My objective was to learn about synchronous facilitation in order to put some of our own courses online. It was a perfect experience for that.
  • Course was well laid out and easy to follow. 
  • I wonder if instead of looking for co-facilitators, would it be more effective to pair the reviewing participant with the participating facilitator. 
  • I missed not having the reflective journal at the end of each week as in FLO Fundamentals.
  • ...need a bit more on "how to", not just "what to do". 
  • The learning outcomes were valid and workable, I wouldn't change them. 
  • Excellent experience, even if you are new to online facilitation!

The participant reflection/debrief

These screen shots are from the final synchronous session. Beth used 3 main methods to gather feedback:

  1. A dotmocracy where participants were asked to circle the topics and activities they thought were key, and X where they could have used more of;
  2. Six adjectives to describe their experience;
  3. Open Mic to offer further feedback and ideas. 

What's next?

The newly revised FLO - Synchronous workshop has already been scheduled! Beth Cougler Blom will again be facilitating along with Myra Rhodes who is using this opportunity to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes as a FLO - Synchronous facilitator.

Register soon and spread the word to your colleagues!

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