Thursday, May 25, 2017

Facilitating Learning Online (FLO) - more than just a collection of workshops

'Graphic Recording by @GiuliaForsythe' by Nancy White
Facilitating Learning Online (FLO) workshops are unique. They provide you with a participatory and learner-centred experience to enhance the skills needed to facilitate your own online courses and workshops. In addition, FLO workshops provide a safe environment to mentor future FLO facilitators.

For example, Rachel Loganberg from College of the Rockies volunteered her time and expertise by taking on an "observer" role in the FLO-Design pilot as a way to provide feedback on the design of the workshop based on observations of how learners were engaging. Rachel was also keen to go under the hood of the 5-week FLO-Fundamentals workshop offered this spring, and volunteered to co-facilitate that so she will be ready to take the lead on a future FLO workshop. She then went on to co-facilitate the 2-week Facilitator Development Online workshop that just wrapped up. Needless to say, Rachel is now very well equipped to mentor future FLO facilitators! This is a terrific example of a mutual exchange model -- learn and practice while giving back to the FLO community.

To date, 47 individuals from 16 institutions have participated in the Facilitator Development Workshop, an intensive 2-week program to prepare you to facilitate FLO workshops. This free workshop experience embraces important elements of a vibrant community of practice and open educational practices:
  • There is no cost to enrol, only a polite ask for commitment.
  • The course remains open to participants after the completion date. After all, the workshop experience is really all about what the learners contribute -- rich discussions, and artefacts they plan to re-use in their own facilitation. 
  • Participants are invited to return to participate or assist in future workshops, also at no cost.
  • The learning experience relies on the distributed expertise of the members.
  • The workshop facilitators take on the typical tasks: welcome, model, clarify, support, advance dialogue, etc. However, the to-become-facilitators share that role, and are invited practice.
  • During the workshop we often reach out to engage groups and individuals outside the workshop
  • Past FDO alumni are encouraged to share back -- new ideas, experiences with implementation,
  • The workshop space is available to registrants only. However, everyone is encouraged to share out using social media.
  • There is no pressure to "complete" -- the learner decides when the outcomes have been met.
  • Discussions about how to improve the workshop experience are encouraged and ongoing
  • It's all about what individuals are willing to invest. The opportunity to take facilitation to the next level is always there!
Following FDO participants are invited to join the Facilitator Development Community of Practice (CoP) where we continue to connect, share, work on projects, and solve problems together. We believe that a workshop is a shared effort; the openly licensed content and design continues to be improved by the community. And the rich contributions from participants become part of the history. 

Ultimately, the goal of designing and hosting FLO workshops at BCcampus, and preparing future facilitators, is so others can successfully implement a high quality experience for faculty and staff. Our hope is that there will be many, many facilitators ready to adopt FLO workshops to implement in-house.

All FLO workshops are available for browsing, copying, and download.  If you're looking for outstanding support to help you with this task, look no further than our Facilitator Development Community.

Contact me (Sylvia Currie for information about becoming a FLO facilitator for the workshops we develop together.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Introducing FLO - Design

* Register for the next FLO - Design workshop September 18 - October 13, 2017 *

In January, 2017 we ran a workshop pilot at BCCampus called Facilitating Learning Online (FLO) - Design. The outcome is yet another 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 learners in both participant and facilitator roles and they learn about key themes related to effective planning and online facilitation. There was a fairly hefty design component inFLO - Fundamentals, and after several iterations we began to notice that the design piece (and actually, also the tools piece) was becoming too much of a focus in a workshop intended to be about facilitating learning.

The FLO Stewardship Group identified a need for a separate workshop to help prepare education practitioners for design work. In addition, this required scaling back the FLO - Fundamentals workshop, and reports are that the new version is MUCH more manageable.

The new workshop, FLO – Design,  was designed and developed by Sylvia Riessner, an experienced facilitator and learning designer who has been involved in course design and faculty support for many years. Sylvia also has a keen interest in helping instructors to explore open educational practices -- perhaps another workshop to add to the family? :)

For this pilot we repeated the format of inviting 'Observers' to join the workshop. Observers, all Facilitator Development Online workshop alumni, notice and keep track of how others are experiencing the course, then participate in a debrief and assist by recommending revisions.  The Observers in this pilot were:
In addition to ongoing Observer feedback, the pilot evaluation included a post workshop anonymous questionnaire, and a Reflections and Horizons activity.

Survey Results

5 respondents: faculty, learning designers, instructional designers, instructors

(Quality) How would you rate the quality of this learning/professional development experience?
 -  High quality:   5 (100.00 %)
 -  Fair: 0
 -  Low quality: 0
(Time) How much time did you spend on the course activities?
-  Less than 6 hours per week:  1 (20.00 %)
-  6-8 hours per week:  2 (40.00 %)
-  More than 8 hours per week:  2 (40.00 %)
(Satisfaction) Overall, how satisfied were you with the FLO-Design workshop?
-  Very satisfied:  5 (100.00 %)
-  Satisfied:  0
-  Not Satisfied:  0

Selected comments

The feedback provided by participants was very thorough and helpful. Here is a selection of comments:
  • The pre-workshop orientation was a good review.
  • Sylvia R is AWESOME!! Her support and feedback was amazing, I really appreciate the time she spent posting and interacting with each person in the group.
  • I liked the checklists - they were critical to my success to help keep me motivated, on task and grounded.
  • Having us choose our own learning direction creates ownership and enthusiasm for the activities.
  • Working in small groups really helped with relationships, accountability, community and chunking down the workload.
  • There was a great sense of community
  • The design and facilitation of this course allowed opportunities for the self directed learner to really dig into their own learning objectives - well done.
  • I really got what I needed from this experience (and more). I wasn't anticipating the new relationships that are going to last long after the course is done!
  • I thought the design project was crucial to understanding the concepts of the course. I like the visual focus.
  • FLO workshops are safe, supportive and structured to provide a positive learning experience that continues long after the workshop is over.

What's Next?

Following the pilot the workshop was tweaked based on participant and observer feedback. The next 4-week FLO - Design workshop begins September 18, 2017 and will be facilitated once again by Sylvia Riessner. Also, in keeping with FLO tradition, Sylvia will be mentoring individuals who wish to gain experience facilitating the workshop. Hope to see you there, and please spread the word to your colleagues!