A1: Online Facilitation: Unleashing Human Connection and Passion for Learning



Nicola Pallitt, e/merge Africa, South Africa
Irene Maweu, e/merge Africa, South Africa
Catherine Fortune, e/merge Africa, South Africa
Jerome Dooga, University of Jos, Nigeria
Jakob Pedersen, e/merge Africa, South Africa


Effective online facilitation is core to learning and teaching in online and blended courses. Lecturers and trainers need to undergo an essential shift in mindset: viewing ourselves as facilitators who engage with our students at emotional, social and intellectual levels rather than simply seeing ourselves as deliverers of knowledge. Sound online facilitation skills enable educators to engage students/participants as whole people in debate, group work and shared knowledge construction across a range of online conversational spaces. Trained online facilitators are also able to make good choices about the use of online communication when designing learning activities. This workshop provides an introduction to online facilitation and shares resources and further opportunities to develop the necessary orientation to become an effective online facilitator. The information and insights shared by presenters will draw on the experience of online facilitators from across the African continent who have supported and led regular activities hosted by the e/merge Africa network: large e/merge online conferences, the Facilitating Online course which has trained over 175 online facilitators, and other online events.


14:00 – 14:30 Let’s connect: Introduction and warm-up activity where we recognise our contexts, shared goals and online facilitation challenges
14:30 – 15:15 Facilitated discussion about facilitator capabilities: Taking stock of the skills we already have and where we can develop
15:15 – 15:35 The human in the web space: Principles of online facilitation drawing on online facilitator capabilities in the Facilitating Online course leaders guide and recent research on online facilitation
15:35 – 16:20 Applying: Engaging in strategies and techniques to engage our students/participants and help them feel connected online. This will include two challenging online facilitation scenarios for discussion by participants. One of these will be from the established Facilitating Online course materials and the second will be designed specifically for this workshop. If bandwidth and connectivity permit one of these activities will be run online during the workshop.
16:20 – 16:40 Creating value: Online facilitator stories from presenters, participants and members of the extended e/merge Africa online facilitation network.
16:40 – 17:00 Closing activity: Facilitated discussion about our next steps as individuals and potential members of an online facilitation community of practice in Africa
17:00 – 17:10 Stay connected: Information about the new Facilitating Online course pilot running in October which will include innovations relating to online facilitation contexts, practices and course activities.

*BYOD: Please bring your mobile devices or laptop, to engage in applied online activities where online spaces may be used to supplement face-to-face interaction.


Educators, lecturers, teachers, instructors, trainers, tutors, mentors and facilitators who perceive a need to enhance and deepen student engagement with learning activities in online and blended courses. The information and activities are likely to benefit participants who are new to the concept and practices of online facilitation as well as those who have already gained some competence in this area.


Higher education, post-school training, adult education, professional development.


This workshop is best suited to participants with novice to intermediate level experience of designing, teaching and/or facilitating blended and online courses.


The workshop is designed to support participant engagement in conceptual and experiential learning about online facilitation and networking among participants. Participants will come away from this workshop with enhanced conceptual knowledge, better skills and greater awareness of themselves as members of a growing network of online facilitators that they can access for knowledge sharing, peer learning, peer support and an online facilitation course after the workshop.


This event is free of charge for all conference participants.