Wednesday, December 5, 2018

What is it like to facilitate an online MicroCourse?

Another successful FLO MicroCourse ran from Oct 29 – Nov 2, 2018, with the theme: Experience and design a community building activity. Once it wrapped up, we asked the facilitators about their experiences. Here’s what they had to say:
“I’m grateful to have been invited to do this. I wasn’t sure what would come from completing Facilitator Development Online in May. My workload at Yukon College is pretty jam-packed and a full Facilitating Learning Online (FLO) facilitation seemed daunting. Collaborating with three facilitators for a MicroCourse made this such manageable and fun work.

“These inter-provincial-territorial-institutional relationships are not easy to build! When I leave Yukon for a 3-day conference, I get to meet other teaching and learning folks face-to-face, but it can be difficult to build relationships in such a short time, with many sessions and things-to-do competing for attention. For me, co-facilitating FLO became such a meaningful way to build relationships – not only with participants, but also with co-facilitators. Even though all our communication was via tech tools (e.g. Skype, email, GoogleDocs, Kumu, Padlet, Moodle…), I feel like we made good connections because of substantial, shared work on authentic tasks – something that can be tough to do at conferences.

“I’m grateful for the chance to learn from my co-facilitators and gain practical experience. The depth of participation in the MicroCourse blew me away! I also came out realizing how much I value co-facilitation and how rare it is to have co-facilitation opportunities in online academic courses. I’m hoping to change that!” – Colleen Grandy, Faculty Development Instructor, Yukon College
“Co-facilitating the MicroCourse has been GREAT. I was a bit apprehensive beforehand and felt I hadn’t done enough preparation for this. (I think I tend to over-prepare.) I was impressed by the quality of ideas people posted within such a short timeframe.

“Obviously, FLO has hit the Goldilocks sweet spot for “just enough” direction. As a co-facilitator, I found this to be a very enjoyable experience, easy to engage such a keen group, and not overly demanding time-wise. It sure didn’t hurt that I had such fantastic co-facilitators.” – Gina Bennett, Sessional Instructor, University College of the Fraser Valley

What did the participants say?

“I was impressed with the quality of this course over such a short period of time. It was a great learning experience.”

“The topics are timely; the amount of time and involvement is flexible; participating in the building of the FLO Community of Practice is rewarding; I feel valued and validated as a Micro FLO participant. I’m just a FLO enthusiast; what can I say…”

“Fantastic online experience.”

“It was helpful to see other examples of proposed community building activities – and try them out and discuss them – and have the chance to propose my own and get feedback on it.”

One participant even offered a promotion statement!

“Experience micro-learning in a fun, fast-paced, action-packed week with FLO. Target your chosen professional development topics and learn (and practice) with knowledgeable, thought-provoking facilitators and colleagues online.”

Who are FLO MicroCourses for?

In this series we have attracted participation from across Canada and beyond, including public post-secondary, K-12, and private organizations. The courses offer:
  • An opportunity to dip into an online learning experience
  • A practice platform for designers and facilitators
  • An emergent and practical course topics.
Contact me if you have topic ideas for future offerings or would like to co-facilitate!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

E-Learning 3.0 for old fogies

I cannot lie. I think about retirement a lot. But instead of dreaming about all the free time I'll have to float around the lake, I'm actually obsessing a bit about all the things I still want to learn. So I submitted a professional development request to my employer BCcampus to take the E-learning 3.0 MOOC, facilitated by Stephen Downes.

Some of you might be thinking, wait, a PD request? MOOCs are free! And online! What are you in fact requesting? Answer: time. The request was approved the same day I submitted it. I think that says a lot about how my organization views learning online. BCcampus also offers free day care for on-location events. Ok, there's so much to say about BCcampus. Another post. :)

I love the idea of MOOCs and I'm also aware of the challenges. The first and ongoing challenge is how to situate yourself in a massive course. It's very easy to drift away but there are also many lures to keep you engaged. So far in this MOOC I'm appreciating:

1. Daily newsletters
I subscribed immediately because I know from years of experience that having things land in my inbox will remind me of what I'm supposed to be doing. That's right. Email! I've been relying on it since my first account at Simon Fraser University in the 80s. I told you I'm an old fogie.

2. A facilitator who is super busy and working his butt off to make this course happen
Why does this keep me engaged? Well partly because I've been a super busy facilitator working my butt off to make open, online events happen since the 90s. I told you I'm an old fogie.

3. Familiar faces
I'm not saying you're all old fogies out there, but I perked right up when I saw the roster of speakers.  George Siemens kicked off the course, and I've been following his work for most of my life. Just kidding, but way before twitter. It probably goes back to the first edtech listservs. I told you I'm an old fogie.

4. The hub
This is where I will come to get a pulse on the course activity. Except I'm not sure it's the right place. Where is that list of familiar faces I mentioned in #3? Where are the videos? I'm either still not convinced that this is the best model for learning, or I'm a navigationally challenged old fogie.

5. The connections
I have complete confidence that I will learn a lot in this course. Why? Because I feel connected to the topic and many of the people involved. When I'm falling out of my hammock I'll just check in with my friend Jenny Mackness!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Reflections on our first MicroCourse

In June we kicked of our first MicroCourse called "Create your course intro video".

Why MicroCourses?

There are several reasons for offering MicroCourses. Here are the top three:

  1. They're short, manageable chunks of productive learning
  2. They provide a taste before committing to a full FLO course -- active learning, peer support, outcomes-based, facilitated
  3. They provide an opportunity to practice facilitation

About the practicing facilitation part

Robin Leung, senior systems specialist at Kwantlen Polytechnic University Teaching & Learning Commons, was fresh out of the Facilitator Development Online course when he stepped up as our first facilitator. It was a wonderful experience working with Robin. Here's what he had to say:

It was an absolute privilege to be invited to co-facilitate the first ever MicroFLO course with Sylvia. I was very surprised with the opportunity, as I had just finished taking the Facilitator Development Online course (FDO) just a few weeks prior and the information was still sinking in. I was totally not ready to co-facilitate with the things going on with at work and the fact that I haven’t even taken the FLO course yet. But without hesitation, I decided to dive into the deep end of the pool. I’d figure it was an excellent opportunity for me to take what I’ve learnt from the FDO course and apply it to this MicroFLO course.
Unlike other FLO courses, the MicroFLO course focuses on one topic and is only a week’s time. I think this allows participants to focus on that particular topic and hopefully those who participates are really passionate about that specific topic also. The amount of time required to spend on the course is very flexible, but of course, the more invested, the greater the return. 
One thing I learnt from co-facilitating this MicroFLO course was to not underestimate the abundance of knowledge that is shared amongst the participants. At first, I was afraid of the lack of contribution or what if no one would respond or comment on each other’s work. I found that with co-facilitating, it is hard to gauge the need to respond or not respond to a discussion. Sometimes it is better to be silent and allow other participants to take lead or respond with an affirmation. And other times, you feel the need to take charge. 
The second thing I learnt is to be open to suggestions and feedback. Obviously, what is good to some may not be good to others. I’ve provided an example demonstrating universal design for learning, while it echoed for some, but the video sample was not perfect and some caught other parts which could be improved. I take it as every feedback is an opportunity to improve the next time. 
Lastly, I learnt that you need a co-facilitator that balances with your life well. And Sylvia was exactly that. I had a more technical background and she had more of the facilitation background. I am a night owl (catching most of the activities at night), and she’s the early riser (catching most of the activities in the day time). I think that complimented very well. 
Until the next FLO, keep flowing.


The level of participation in the course was perfect -- enough to make it interesting but not so many we felt overwhelmed. Registrants showed up from a variety of institutions, including out of province and international. As always, you expect more registrants than active participants in a free course, but the ratio was good. 11 individuals submitted video projects and all were peer reviewed.

This log was captured during the week of the course. As an open course, the resource will continued to be viewed. 

How did the participants feel about the course?

At the end of the course participants are asked to provide feedback about their experience. All reported they were satisfied or very satisfied. Here's what one videographer had to say:
Friendly congenial group and instructor energy, great feedback and this was something I had been intending to work on for a long time - the course gave me the motivation to plunge in and start making intro videos!
Overall, it was a great experience and we're looking forward to the next FLO MicroCourse, Creating and using rubrics, which runs September 17 - 21, 2018. Our facilitators will be Jacquie Harrison from Vancouver Community College and Bettina Boyle, Capilano University. 

Monday, June 11, 2018

Learn by [bad] example

We just kicked off a new one-week course at BCcampus called 'Create your course intro video' today. I'm co-facilitating this FLO MicroCourse with the amazing Robin Leung, senior systems specialist at Kwantlen Polytechnic University Teaching & Learning Commons.

Robin and I decided ahead of time that he would post a good video, and I would post a video that, well, sucks. I had fun demonstrating just about every mistake you can make!

It was a risky move because I don't let on until the end that I'm intentionally making bad video. Fortunately, Christina Thomas from Yukon College got it!

I almost didn't last until the end when you let the "cat out of the bag". 

So what did I do wrong in this video? Here's a start on a list. I'll keep adding as more comments roll in:

  • Um, don't call your students "folks" or "guys"
  • My opening words, the tone, and the HAT make you think I’d rather be doing something else. 
  • I did a terrible job of lighting – never have the light behind your head. And also don't wear a hat that covers your face!
  • The background setting is nasty – ugly, dirty tarp outside the window, a pile of stuff on a bench...
  • Background noise! I grabbed a recording of dogs barking from BBC Sound Effects because my own dogs were sleeping.
  • I read my script, rustled paper, and rarely looked at the camera. 
  • I told my viewers all about course elements instead of actually show them.  
  • I used my phone and held it vertically. Never do this! Only horizontal! 
  • I move around to give that Blair Witch effect. 
What else? Can you add to the list of what NOT to do?

Sign up by Monday, June 11, 2018 (today!) if you'd like to join the fun - it's open and free.

Monday, May 14, 2018

FDO Journal - Week 1

I am currently co-facilitating the 2-week Facilitator Development Online (FDO) course with Ross McKerlich from Okanagan College. In this course, as with all FLO courses, we're all about reflective practice. Participants are asked to share out some nuggets at the end of each week. As facilitators, reading through these entries is when you really get a feel for how things are going. I highly recommend it!

Here are some of my jots about Week 1:

Co-facilitation rules!

We have a synchronous panel session scheduled this week with past FLO facilitators. They will be sharing their tips and experiences and I can bet one of them will say having co-facilitators is the best thing ever. This week Ross had a fun adventure planned with his son that would take him offline for a few days. No problem! The key is finding the best way to work together. You learn from one another, you share the workload, and you need to be efficient. Google Docs for planning works wonders for that!

Marginalia annotations

I was delighted to see participants notice, then start using, then observing the benefits of, the annotation tool. This week I used it to jot down my thoughts as I read journal posts. It can help to:

  • keep the noise level down (noticing the comments about having email subscription overwhelm here!) 
  • let folks know you're present and paying attention 
  • keep out the middle and give space/priority to participants 
  • say a lot without overthinking and spending too much time crafting responses

Creative introductions!

We had such a variety of tools and formats! Something that really stood out for me was the use of low-tech in such effective ways. One video intro was done standing in front of a whiteboard with extra info and thought bubbles drawn on it. Also, in a Flipgrid intro, a participant held up a card with "hi" handwritten on it. It seems like such a small thing, but it told me a lot about that individual.

This bugs me about FDO

The design of FDO invites a lot of quality contributions and peer review. It's fabulous. However, what I notice is that it doesn't provided opportunities to model good, inclusive dialogue. Since most replies are directly related to the original post (as opposed to weaving several posts and ideas together), there is a tendency to fall into one-to-one communication.

Ditch the prerequisite

The description of FDO lists FLO - Fundamentals as a recommended prerequisite. The first person to try taking FDO without having a FLO course under their belt was Ross McKerlich. He has since co-facilitated FLO - Synchronous and is now co-facilitating the course about how to facilitated FLO courses. This builds a good case for ditching the prereq! Now we have several participants who are diving straight into FDO, and although they confess it takes extra time and effort (okay, a lot of extra time) they're thriving in this supportive environment. Maybe even having fun! :)


We often see photos of pets, but in this FDO the cutest photos of babies have popped up. I went back to to the forum this morning to smile at one nicknamed "nugget" :)

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Introducing the new FLO MicroCourses

This is cross-posted from 

Have you longed to take a Facilitating Learning Online (FLO) course, but wished it were shorter? We have just the learning opportunity to fit your schedule!

Beginning in June 2018, we will be rolling out a new series: FLO MicroCourses! These are short, single-topic, hands-on/practical and free. In one week, you will dip into the FLO experience, and leave with something practical and useful for your own teaching practice.

Topics are emergent and all related to designing and facilitating and learning online. Our first offering is:
Make Your Course Intro Video 
June 11 – 15, 2018 

You will leave this course with new ideas and skills for creating personable and informative introductory videos. In addition, you’ll receive feedback on your own course video prototype. 

Participants should expect to spend at least 5 hours for course activities during the week. Those with no prior online teaching and learning experience can expect to invest more time. Active participation will make this course successful for everyone!

Examples of future FLO MicroCourse topics include:

  • Experience and design a community building activity 
  • Using inclusive dialogue 
  • Designing a formative feedback for the instructor 
  • Designing course surveys 
  • Creating an accessible learning resource 
  • Designing assessment rubrics 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

What’s New With FLO?

This is cross-posted from 
Over the years FLO Enthusiasts have been refining and growing the collection of Facilitating Learning Online (FLO) courses, affectionately referred to as the “FLO family of courses”, and there’s no stopping us! Here’s a glimpse of what the future holds.

We’ve listened to your feedback and FLO will become more affordable and more modularized. We will still run our 5-week Facilitating Learning Online – Fundamentals course (October 1 – November 2, 2018), but in an effort to reach twice as many people it will cost half as much! Further, the first 3 registrants will receive a super deal. Register for the October FLO Fundamentals course here!
Beginning in June 2018, we will roll out our first FLO-Micro course. Short, free, and focused, these online courses will provide an opportunity to dip into the FLO experience and leave with something practical and useful for your own teaching practice.
We will continue to offer Facilitator Development Online (FDO) to prepare individuals who are interested in facilitating and adopting FLO family courses. However, we’re working to better accommodate your busy schedules and learning needs by dividing FDO into four parts:
  1. Self-directed courses with sandbox environments to become familiar with what’s under the hood of a FLO course and how to prepare for a strong start as a new facilitator
  2. A comprehensive Facilitation Guide to help you facilitate or adopt FLO courses
  3. Continue with the 2-week workshop to dive deeper and explore the preparation and work required to facilitate FLO
  4. A “capstone” practice opportunity to take on facilitation tasks alongside an experienced FLO facilitator
As community-based service learning offerings, FDO and FLO-Micro are free in exchange for your commitment to participate in course activities.
All of this new development to prepare facilitators is underway. Meanwhile, join the 58 educators representing 16 B.C. post-secondary institutions who are on the pathway to becoming awesome FLO facilitators! The next FDO course runs May 7 – 18, 2018 and is facilitated by Ross McKerlich, Education Technology Coordinator at Okanagan College, and Sylvia Currie. Register for the May FDO offering here.
As always, FLO courses are openly licensed and available for institutions to implement in-house. Browse or download (Moodle) the courses in SOLR.

Learn more:

Friday, March 23, 2018

Facilitator Development Online

Registration is open for the Facilitator Development Online course which runs May 7-18, 2018. This is an intensive 2-week program to prepare you to facilitate FLO workshops. 

I will be co-facilitating this course with Ross McKerlich from Okanagan College, along with other FDO alumni who might wish to step in to help out. This is what I love about FLO -- the ongoing collaboration to keep the facilitation spirit and skills 'fLO'wing! 

Ross facilitating some facilitators on the topic of...guess...facilitation
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, etc.
  • 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!
Do you want to take facilitation to the next level? I hope to see you in FDO! 

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Festival of Learning 2018

The Festival of Learning (May 28 - 30, 2018) is a biennial conference that brings together multiple groups and individuals with an interest in advancing their work as educational professionals. The organizers of the event also encourage participation from students, and I hope many take them up on that invitation! For starters, I can't wait for the student panel on Tuesday morning facilitated by one of my favourite people, Jonny Morris.

This year I submitted a proposal very close to the deadline and right before taking off for the Christmas holidays -- not enough time to round up collaborators. I still plan to do that!

UPDATE: Ross McKerlich from Okanagan College will be co-facilitating the session. So happy to share this news!

Here is the session description:

The Facilitating Learning Online (FLO) – Fundamentals workshop has been implemented through BCcampus since 2013. During this time three new FLO workshops were developed, one of which is designed to prepare upcoming FLO facilitators, and each offering of FLO workshops provides an opportunity for these individuals to practice alongside experienced facilitators. In addition, all participants provide input into design and content revisions, a process that has been successfully managed because of the small scale of the project.

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. All FLO workshops are openly licensed and available for institutions to implement in-house. Several B.C. institutions and non-profit organizations are actively exploring options for FLO adoption.

Typically support for the adoption of open educational resources (OER) centres around evaluation, and mechanics of using the resources – how to check for relevance and quality, how to integrate into a course environment, and so on. The focus is on the receiving end of the resources.

However, those involved in FLO facilitation and implementation, affectionately called FLO Enthusiasts, agree that there are specific elements that make FLO flow, so to speak. In other words, adoption goes beyond handing over the content. The success of these workshops requires an ongoing effort to advance the use of these OERs as a collaborative effort.

In this session, we will explore the Facilitating Learning Online (FLO) family of workshops as a case for establishing a “handle with care” model for open educational resources (OER) adoption that both engages and serves a community of adopters. We will draw on experiences and expertise from session participants to sketch out a model that is functional and realistic.