It’s an exciting time to be facilitating an online course. Online programs and classes have become a major component of higher education across institutions of every size and description. More than two-thirds of Canadian universities offer at least some online courses for credit (CDLRA, 2019). Great course design is central to making online education work. Yet, quality online facilitation, as you will learn throughout this resource, is one of the strongest predictors of student success and persistence in online courses and programs.

In this unit, we present some important background information that will help orient new online facilitators by providing information about online learners and the online learning context. In the final section of this unit, we detail the core activities of the online facilitator and discuss specific roles and responsibilities.

Tips for navigating this learning resource

  • Use the navigation menu on the left to jump to specific units or headings within a unit
  • Within the resource there are several Check and reflect activities that

    help you become acquainted with your course

    invite you to reflect on key concepts and your own experience to help you build facilitation strategies that are personalized to you and your course

    provide feedback on your learning

Key concepts

This unit will introduce the following important topics, concepts, and strategies:

  • Characteristics of the online learner and barriers to learning online
  • Helpful online learning strategies for students
  • Student mental health and accessibility considerations
  • Common online content delivery formats and tools
  • Different facilitator roles
  • Developing a facilitator checklist
  • Getting oriented to your course: understanding student expectations, learning outcomes, alignment, and assessments
  • Student and instructor workload and time commitments
  • Online facilitation time management strategies

Unit sections

1a. Who is the online learner?

1b. Format and delivery of online courses

1c. Defining your facilitator role in your online course

Supplementary resources

CDLRA 2019 research report on online learning: Canadian Digital Learning Research Association Publications - 2019

How Students Develop Online Learning Skills (PDF)

Course Workload Estimator

The Assignment Calculator

Example Feedback Rubric (DOCX)

Online Facilitator Checklist (DOCX)

Considerations when Choosing Online Tools

Writing Intended Learning Outcomes