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Revised July 2014

Solo Facilitation

You need to have command of a lot of tools and some management strategies to teach with no support using Bb Collaborate.  If you have no options for co-facilitators, we suggest you intentionally structure your session into distinct blocks of time. Certain blocks of time are for your presentation and the remaining blocks of time are for interactions. To operate in this manner, you must clearly inform the students about the organization and flow of the presentation.

Example - I am facilitating this session in a way to focus your attention on the presentation at certain times and to focus your attention on interaction at other times. When I am presenting, I will disable the chat feature and your audio feature during my brief presentation. If you have a question about my content, write it down so you can ask it during the interaction session that follows my presentation. When I complete my presentation, I will enable both the chat and audio features. If you choose to use audio, remember to raise your hand so we don't talk over one another. If you choose to use chat, I will respond to your question. At some point, I will announce that it is time to close the interaction session and will disable the tools. I will then present another brief section and open the classroom for interaction again.

You control tool use and you control the pace of the presentation with this style. Establishing a firm set of operating rules will help students understand what you are doing and why you are doing it. Notice that we do not call this section Solo Presentation. Synchronous tools are designed for interaction and use of these tools to present a one-way presentation without some type of interaction is an ineffective instructional choice for this tool. There is no reason to use this tool if there is not an intent to also have some interaction. We advance that regular sections of the session designated only for interaction will allow you to manage the multiple interaction options successfully. As your tool expertise increases, you can begin to open more and more options to students.

If you favor a great deal of interaction, this management strategy may feel stifling to you. If so, leave the tools enabled and encourage the use of the tools during your presentation. We still encourage an early explanation of how and when you will respond, how questions should be shared among students, and other ground rules you believe are important. If you decide to try this, remember to stay very aware of the cues available to you during your presentation. Synchronous technologies "announce" changes in several ways - chat suddenly appears, emoticons appear or change, hands are raised, etc. Stay alert to changes in these indicators. One strategy is to still use a designated time to respond to these indicators. Another strategy is to stop and respond to only a "super indicator" - a signal established during the ground rule explanation that means that the question is important enough to stop the presentation. Regardless of your choice, try to acknowledge feedback in some way. You can use general phrases to show that you see questions or indicators at times when it is impossible to respond individually to each question or indicator.

These are a few examples of ways to acknowledge feedback and indicators without interrupting the flow of the presentation or session.

  • I see some hands raised. Let me finish this last point and I will get to all of you. John has posted a great question in the chat area. Some of you have already responded. We have quite a bit to cover today and this is a great topic.
  • John, do you mind posting that question in the Students Helping Students Discussion Board a bit later so everyone has a chance to respond? We can begin next weeks session with John's summary of the discussion and than have an "open mike" session to discuss this in depth. How does that sound to everyone?
  • I see a lot of questions posted. I don't want those ideas to get away from us so I want to pause and respond to a few of them. If I don't get to yours and I don't cover your question by explanation of another question - feel free to post the question to the Discussion Board where I answer your questions for the entire class.
  • I see a lot of questions. I will stop and respond to those and then get back to the content. I do ask you to not post while I am responding so I can catch up.

Remember, control tools to control the pace of the session.

Synchronous Co-facilitators

You will have to have command of a lot of tools and be able to multi-task well to offer a fully interactive synchronous session successfully. It can be done but it will take some experience with the tools and the environment. One alternative that seems to assist and is a powerful teaching technique is to use a co-facilitator during the session. In our work, we often employ a co-facilitator to manage the chat function while we "drive" the presentation. We often swap roles and the co-facilitator "drives" while we manage the chat function. The role of the co-facilitator is to keep an eye on the pulse of the class, looking for opportunities to acknowledge feedback and/or contributions to the class. They also inform the presenter of emerging themes or clusters of questions so the presenter can address these issues. Sharing these duties with someone means you can concentrate on the presentation and make sure that students' needs and questions are addressed. This is more difficult to do when working solo. At times, it may make sense to use a student to perform these tasks and other times, you may want to use a graduate student or teaching assistant.

page last updated 8/26/2014 10:50 AM