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Revised June 2014

Facilitating: Being a Good Host

Finkelstein (2006) describes synchronous online facilitation as similar to being the host of a successful dinner party. "One prepares for the guests' arrival, welcomes them warmly, frequently assesses the mood in the room and anticipates guests' needs, makes everyone feel included, facilitates connections and conversation, offers guests something to take home with them, knows when to say good night, and leaves everyone wanting more so they will want to return when next invited (p. 66).

Think about these ideas as you plan your Bb Collaborate session. Many of these tips are considered very good practices for synchronous facilitation. You will find them called different things in the literature but this short list covers most of the important facilitation tasks.


Have all resources ready to use so you can begin your session on time. Remember that Collaborate is session-based and will clear the session shortly after you log out of the session. Use PLAN to preload materials or load your materials immediately before the session.
Focus on the students as they log into the session. Greet them, check connection speeds, and remind them about running the wizard.
Prepare more activities than you think you will need. Since students are required to attend at the same time, always have enough activities for the session.


Welcome each student by name (if possible). This sets a warm tone and reminds students that you know they are present.

Assess Mood

Throughout your session, periodically gauge comprehension and mood by asking spontaneous poll questions, soliciting emoticon use, or calling on students for feedback. This allows you to adjust pace and technical issues during the session.

Include All

Try to recognize contributions from students as much as possible. Frequently solicit contributions from as many participants as possible. Refer to comments using the name of the person making the comment, if possible.

Facilitate Connections and Conversation

Facilitate students talking to other students. It is important for students to see their peers as resources.

Do Not Dominate Every Discussion

  • Ask good questions.
  • Ask a lot of questions.

Offer Something to Take Home

  • Post handouts, slides, results of activities, and transcripts of the session in your course.
  • Push handouts and other materials to students before the end of the session.

Know When to Say Good Night

Leave Everyone Wanting More: End on a high point and end the session.

Adapted from Finklestein, J. (2006). Learning in real time: Synchronous teaching and learning online. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

page last updated 10/1/2015 1:10 PM