Does the Facilitation Team Bring Its A-Game to Your vILT Programs?

February 24, 2015 12:14 by Dana Peters

I have yet to meet a delivery team for the virtual classroom that didn’t want to knock it out of the park on every single session; you know, bring their A-game and really rock the house. Having a meticulously prepared facilitation team is another component organizations need to focus on in order to successfully implement (and maintain) a thriving vILT program.

A facilitation team, at minimum, generally consists of a presenter (trainer/facilitator) who is responsible for meeting the learning objectives of the course and a producer (host/moderator) who handles the technical aspects of the environment so that the presenter can focus on the content, the participants, and course material. 

Well-defined roles, and a facilitation team that is familiar with the course material, the technology, the participants, and the learning objectives of the course will mean the difference between success, and a quick derailment.

Extensive time and preparation should be allowed for each member of the facilitation team to become comfortable with:

  • their role within the virtual learning environment
  • their modified skill set to be effective in this environment
  • the technology required to fulfill their responsibilities
  • the course materials and content

While the delivery methods between a face-to-face session and a virtual session are different, how we define success in the learning environment, and what we need to do in order to be successful are the same. Facilitators should be prepared to utilize the same skillset they are familiar with for delivering in-person trainings, with adjustments to account for not being able to see faces and read body language.

There is a lot we could dig into when it comes to the virtual facilitator’s skillset.

Here are a few of the biggies.

Virtual facilitators need to learn to ask questions differently.

“Are there any questions at this point?”

Nine times out of 10 when a virtual facilitator asks a closed ended question like this one, it will be greeted by silence. Whereas a question like this one is more likely to result in responses:

“I have just given you several scenarios…which one is most relevant to your work and why? I’ll give you a minute to think about this. Please raise your hand when you are ready to share.”

A few more thoughts around questions:

  • I always suggest counting to 5 before deciding no one wants to contribute. Remember, they need to think of a response, remember how to raise their hand, and take their phone off mute.
  • Always give clear direction as to how you want participants to respond.

Making connections with participants.

  • Use participants’ names frequently in session.
  • Reach out to participants before the session and learn what they are hoping to gain from the session. Learn as much about the group as you can. Yes, this will take time, but it will make the session more personal which draws people in.
  • Ask people for simple contributions and call on certain participants to elaborate. For example, you present a group a list of alternatives on a whiteboard and ask them to circle which alternative would work best for their situation. Then to steer the discussion down a certain path you could call on one or two individuals to elaborate for the group.

Facilitators won’t become experts overnight.

They should be given the material and ample amounts of time to not only prepare for session delivery, but also to practice and become familiar with using the virtual environment.

Consider a development plan that provides an opportunity for facilitating in real-life situations, and the opportunity to observe other facilitators in action.

Of course, a virtual facilitator is in the best position for success when working with materials developed specifically for the virtual learning environment. Check out our post on this topic: The Design Difference: Considerations for the Virtual Classroom.

What successes have you had in preparing your own facilitation team? Is there anything that worked particularly well for your organization? 
 
From our perspective this component in our approach is just as important as the other three. If you’re wondering what the other components are, you can read about them in my post: Building Bullet Proof Online Training Programs.




 

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