Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Free, online course 'Facilitating Online ' starts on 7th March 2011

The online course "Facilitating Online" (FO2011) that I facilitate every year on behalf of Otago Polytechnic starts again in a couple of weeks on 7th March 2011. This is a great course for anyone who wants to learn more about how to use online communication tools for facilitating events, classes, conversations, meetings etc.

Joys of FO2011
I love working with this online course because it brings together people from all over the world, all walks of life... developing learning communities/networks...where we learn more about how to work collaboratively in the online environment. I know I have a vested interest in this course because I have helped to develop it, but I love it because it is extremely experiential... you will get a chance to integrate theory with practice and have a go at facilitating your own online events as you go along in the course.

This year we have a slightly different model for fees. Access to the course and the course materials is free as usual. However, if you want personalised support and mentoring from me, you will have to enrol as a facilitated student. If you want full assessment services and accreditation, you will need to enrol as a formal student, as per usual. For more information, please contact our administrator, Catherine Lindsay: catherine.lindsay(at)

I must admit I feel a tad uncomfortable about charging a fee for my support as it has been free in the past. However, it has become too expensive to carry on like this...and the fees for facilitated students are not too bad...$180NZ ...a lot cheaper than if you hired me as a consultant! :)

I will be carrying out a research study and looking at issues of recruitment and retention of open, online courses to see if charging a fee makes a difference. I'd love to hear from you if you have a view on this. How has the fee structure for 'Facilitating Online' this year affected your decision to join the course? What do you think of the fee structure?

Image: 'Flickr Meet #3 - Nottingham'


Claire Thompson said...

I suspect that charging a fee for support will result in:
- fewer people signing up for the course
- but a higher retention rate for those who do
$180 NZ is not a huge fee, but it is enough to discourage people from signing up on a whim and enough to make you stick with it if you did pay the fee.

I'm not sure if I totally understand the new structure, but if the informal (free) students do not have full access to the course Google Group (so they can observe but not post?) and to Elluminate (they can attend but not moderate?) , then it would be interesting to see if they self organize and start up their own fora for discussion. This is what I've seen happen in a few MOOCS (Massively Open Online Courses) that I've peeked in at.

I thoroughly enjoyed taking the course last year--though I wasn't able to see it through to the end. You do a fabulous job of modelling the online facilitation skills that the students are learning about. Best of luck!

willie campbell said...

I'm delighted to see this course happening again this year. I have found it one of the most energising exepriences I have engaged in for some time.I learned so much about keeping online netwroks together and keeping my own technical skills abreast of my wishes to work with others-stuedntes/those I mentored+supervised/ERPL candidates in a facilitation process.
Best wishes for this year.

Sarah Stewart said...

Claire: This model if fees is a new one that we're trying out. It is interesting to see there are far fewer people signing up this year than so it will be intriguing to see how things pan out. We are making a research project of this which I think will be timely as there is an increase in these so-called free courses on the Internet.

Willie: Going to be giving you a call in the next wee while to get your opinions on open access courses etc :)