Delegating Course Facilitation Duties to Trainees: Benefits and Methods

Active learning is a habit developed and reinforced by the eLearning course mentor. It entails equal participation from all trainees and in-depth involvement towards all learning activities. You’re guessing that active learning must involve chatting and live discussions, right? Let us tell you, it is much more than that.

Towards the initial days of the eLearning program, certain facilitation responsibilities should be given out to learners. This will ensure that they are motivated to achieve their learning objectives, and continue to remain engaged throughout the eLearning program. In this article, we’ll share the five ways to allocate facilitation responsibilities to learners.

One of the highly desirable outcomes of eLearning is the process of active learning and participation. In a distance learning world, establishing rapport and strong communication channels, building trust and faith in each other, are some of the first activities mandated by course mentors. Without these, there is the danger of learner isolation, which might lead to them eventually dropping out of the course.

One way to establish strong course participation is by assigning trainees some responsibilities for course facilitation with the rest of the participants. The question is, how do you turn learners into knowledge sharers?

Not every learner is capable of taking on course facilitation tasks. But the level of responsibility can be adapted to the learner’s capacity. In short, all eLearning course participants should be actively engaged with a course facilitation role.

One common strategy is to assign some learners the responsibility for leading a section of the discussion. Roles like these can be created by either responding to individual learner requests, or by rotation throughout the duration of the course.

Here are some more active participation strategies:

1. Give all participants deadlines, by which they need to submit their papers or assignments. Have one group read and post feedback on another’s paper. This way, peers understand that their work will be shared by everyone.

2. Next, hold a post-assignment discussion in which one group leads the problems and positive points read in the paper. The other group acts like an observer and offers comments and/or refutes. Don’t forget to rotate the role of the groups.

3. Towards the end of the session, have everyone summarize their feelings on the topic. This can then be submitted to the course mentor for feedback.

Creating roles for groups and keeping these teams for the remainder of the course automatically builds a strong sense of trust and connectivity.

Best practices lead us to five common facilitation roles that can be given out to learners and improve engagement consistently:

1. Discussion Facilitator

2. Process Observer, commenting on group dynamics

3. Content Commentator, summarizing the group’s learning over the previous week

4. Team Leader, with or without the additional responsibility of evaluating the work of other members

5. Presenter, on a particular topic, book or area

Creating group roles consistently throughout the training session creates an authentic learning experience. This emphasizes the close connection of the learning environment with the work context. Trainees learn the importance of the feedback and can more clearly see the perspective of their collaborators. They also learn to appreciate each other’s submissions and contributions, and their value towards achieving their personal learning goals. These group dynamics are similar to work teams in the job environment.

For the facilitation duties to be truly delegated and shared, the trainer must be willing to give up partial control of their direction. The mentor needs to undertake the role of a participant. They would need to allow the discussion to occur in any direction. This freedom of course facilitation by trainees enables them to address and solve their personal or professional issues. This is a great way to run training business.

Of course, if the discussion strays too far from the scope of the course objectives, the instructor can step in to set limits and reminders, to redirect the flow of the conversation towards the desirable pathways. But, if the straying is allowed to happen, and the trainer observes the off-topic discussions, this can even lead them to determine a learning need or a possible topic for a future eLearning training program.

Apart from such tendencies, the course mentor needs to refrain from the urge to lead, but become an active follower. This will help further engage the learners with each other and promote their course facilitation roles to the maximum. Active course participation leads to satisfying learning experiences.

Having learners actively participate is the dream of every trainer. Sometimes, no extra effort or strategy is needed to implement active participation. Your users are so excited about the discussion topic and have a lot to share with peers. Sometimes this interaction needs a gentle push. Course mentors can easily assign roles to participants to generate inter-group activity facilitation.

We hope these five basic roles will inspire you to create similar activities and benefit from this interesting strategy.

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