Five Tips for Effective Online Facilitation with Infographic

Teaching is a challenging and rewarding profession.  Teaching within online environments is uniquely challenging, given the remote and seemingly impersonal relationship between the educator and the student.  The infographic below was created to increase the educator’s effectiveness when facilitating their course(s) online.  Five suggestions are recommended including: Set clear expectations for the students, allow students freedom during the course, build a community, support and encourage the students, and use humour often.

 Set Clear Expectations

By setting clear instructions and expectations for the students, the educator will help ensure the success and completion of the course objectives.  Additionally, these clear instructions and expectations will ensure the student does not get lost within the course content (Dunlap, 2018) which may prevent student frustration.  Instructions should include an explicit syllabus with detailed outcomes, expectations, assignments, and timelines (Vaughan, 2013).

Additionally, the educator should outline the marking scheme and post associated detailed rubrics in advance of assignment work being undertaken.  By grading frequently with low stake assessments and providing clear feedback frequently and in a timely manner, the educator will ensure student participation and allow frequent student self-assessment.

Allow Students Freedom

Consider giving students the freedom of choice on all projects and assignments.  Does the course structure allow flexibility in grading weights?  Consider allowing the class to decide how each assignment is weighted as well.  This increases the likelihood that projects and assignments will be interesting and entertaining for all, including the educator, and allows students to shape the course path within the objectives.

Think outside the box!  What are the objectives of the project or assignment?  Can they be achieved in a creative or unique way?  For example, if an educator wants students to detail a scene from a novel they read, it may prove difficult and uninteresting to read 25 book reports on the same novel.  Consider whether students could choose a different novel from a list provided, or perhaps have students provide 25 different interpretations of the same scene from the same novel.  Some of the students will elect to complete a written book report of their interpretation; however, others may choose to paint a picture, record a video, build a miniature recreation, create a Lego vignette, or build the world from the novel in Minecraft.  To ensure success within the freedom of the project or assignment, the educator should be clear with instructions and expectations of the students regarding choice in activity, content, and assessments (Vaughan, 2013).

Build A Community

An online community within each course will help students feel connected with each other, with the educator, and help ensure completion of the course objectives.  As Bull (2013) outlined,   “without intentional efforts to build a positive social environment, online learning can feel lonely and impersonal.”  This feeling of isolation can lead to a lack of motivation in students.

It is recommended that the online course community includes academic and non-academic social interaction, for example, text-based discussion (e.g., discussion boards), text and photo-based bulletin boards (e.g., Nearpod or Padlet), or video clips with discussions (e.g., Flipgrid).

Educators should engage in personal conversations with the students.  The more comfortable a student is with the educator, the more likely they are to participate in course elements or ask questions after classes.

 Support and Encourage

Educators are encouraged to discuss the possibility that students may experience significant role adjustment when learning online and provide an opportunity for students to outline any concerns about the online environment or the course (Vaughan, 2013).

Educators should model their expectations of the students.  For example, the educator would model how to share and interact in a discussion forum and provide exemplars of projects and other assignments (Dunlap, 2018).

Educators should also display student work throughout the course.  Displaying work may push the students to improve future work, and help them to be proud of the work they have already completed.

Use Humour (Often)

Educators should not take themselves too seriously.  Online learning is difficult for the student and the educator.  Both will make mistakes during the course and need to be able to brush it off and return to the task at hand.  This may be much easier to do if the educator shows themselves as genuine with a sense of humour. Students have reported that they are more engaged when the teacher used humour in the classroom (Berk, 1998).

Effective Online Facilitation

A larger version of the infographic as a PDF can be found here.

All images by and released under Creative Commons CC0 International License.

Concepts cultivated from the following sources:

Berk, R. (1998). Professors are from mars, students are from snickers: How to write and deliver humor in the classroom and in professional presentations. Madison, WI: Magna Publications

Boettcher, J. (2013). Ten Best Practices for Teaching Online Quick Guide for New Online faculty. Retrieved September 18, 2018, from

Bull, B. (2013). Eight Roles of an Effective Online Teacher. Retrieved September 18, 2018, from

Dunlap, J. C., & Lowenthal, P. R. (2018). Online educators’ recommendations for teaching online: Crowdsourcing in action. Open Praxis10(1), 79–89. Retrieved September 18, 2018, from

Edutopia. (2016). 4 Student Engagement Tips. Retrieved September 13, 2018, from

Edutopia. (2017). 53 ways to check for understanding. Retrieved September 13, 2018, from

Salmon, G. (2018). The five-stage model. Retrieved September 18, 2018, from

Vaughan, N. D., Cleveland-Innes, M., & Garrison, D. R. (2013). Facilitation. In Teaching in blended learning environments: Creating and sustaining communities of inquiry (pp. 45–61). Athabasca University Press. Retrieved September 13, 2018, from


Thank you for taking some time out of your day.  What are your thoughts on this infographic or online facilitation?  What is your favourite tip to share with others?  Please comment below.

Enjoy the rest of your day!

Image by rawpixel from Pixabay is licensed under CC BY 4.0 (CC0 license).



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