FLO: Facilitating Learning Online

Author Information
Ren Whitaker
Wendy Drexler
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
Brown University
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

FLO (Facilitating Learning Online) is a four-week online course, in which faculty and instructors learn first-hand what it’s like to be an online learner from the student perspective. FLO participants explore online pedagogical best practices through researched-based content, challenging assignments, and facilitator-lead discussions that demonstrate how effective online learning can be when properly designed and facilitated. Through this experience, instructors are challenged to consider how they will adjust their course design and teaching practice from the face-to-face to online environment, to inspire learning and a high level of engagement.

Note: To encourage participation, the FLO course requires only 45 minutes of each participant's time per week.

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

We have found through student and faculty course evaluation, interviews, and experience that FLO graduates consistently design and lead their courses with greater efficiency, more enjoyment, fewer errors and frustrations, and with a better understanding of the opportunities and challenges of teaching and learning online. Faculty who complete the course consistently recommend it to Brown colleagues interested in online course design and facilitation.

How does this practice relate to pillars?: 

Faculty Satisfaction: FLO graduates consistently design and lead their courses with greater efficiency, more enjoyment, fewer errors and frustrations, and with a better understanding of the opportunities (and challenges) of teaching and learning online.

Learning Effectiveness: As a result of taking the FLO course, faculty design courses using sound online pedagogical best practices, of which they would otherwise be unaware. Courses created by faculty who completed the FLO course tend to be far more engaging; with clearer, evidence-based learning outcomes.

Student Satisfaction: Students appreciate the cleaner, more focused and engaging design of the courses created by FLO faculty graduates, and the increased level of interaction they receive from faculty, initially modeled in FLO by the course facilitator. They also appreciate the opportunity to engage and collaborate with others in the courses, something we also model for faculty in FLO.

Scale: This course can be facilitated by multiple instructors when the need is great, or to a class as small as 5 participants if need be. FLO can be offered multiple times a semester, or on an as-needed basis. The cost is minimal once the course has been built. We adjust the course content with each course launch based on participant feedback and the latest online learning developments.

Equipment necessary to implement Effective Practice: 

1. An online learning management system. (Brown University uses Canvas, but the course could be adjusted to work in any LMS.)
2. Someone to facilitate the course; requires roughly 5 hours of time a week.

Estimate the probable costs associated with this practice: 

If the institution uses Canvas, the implementation of FLO is virtually cost-free, except for the necessity of providing a facilitator willing to devote 5 hours a week to the course for 4 weeks. If the institution must adapt the course to another LMS, then there may be time/labor costs associated with that endeavor.

(Please note: Brown is willing to share the relevant assets with other institutions under the Creative Commons license.)

Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
Ren Whitaker
Email this contact: