Preparing Students to Facilitate a Webinar

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Today’s technological environment requires practical skills in online competencies; one of these skills is webinar facilitation. Facilitation is a useful skill to support group in meeting an objective, making a decision, or collaborating more effectively. Facilitation is also the teaching strategy that can be selected for assignments in order to: (1) model for students what facilitation looks like (i.e., practice what you preach) and (2) create a learning community based on active learning and student participation. Adult learners bring a wealth of life experience to their classes and appreciate the opportunity to acquire practical skills and knowledge that they can use in their professional lives (Knowles, 2005).

Equipping students with tools, strategies, knowledge, and skills in facilitation can allow them to engage their peers in course concepts that utilize higher order thinking and peer-to-peer teaching and learning (Rekrut, 1994).  Facilitation skills can be applied to any course or topic just like communication skills, such as writing, speaking, presenting, and teaching. Facilitation skills also fall under social and emotional skills needed to guide change and make progress (OECD, 2015).

Link to example artifact(s)

This strategy was implemented in the course Facilitation Fundamentals, an online upper-division undergraduate course.  Students who take the course come from a range of disciplines, including business administration, organizational leadership, paralegal studies, pre-law, homeland security, and criminal justice. The final project in this course consists of students facilitating a live synchronous webinar. Using the facilitation strategy, the instructor and students each play the role of teachers and learners to create collectively a relevant and meaningful course experience.

Learning Outcome: Facilitate an interactive online synchronous webinar with peers using questioning techniques and engaging communication style.

Assessment Activity: Students facilitate a 10-minute synchronous webinar in groups of 3 to 4 peers (based on a discussion topic they facilitated in the previous week’s discussion board) using a Facilitation Guide, Power Point slides, and tools available in the Blackboard Collaborate Ultra synchronous platform (chat, microphone, poll, white board).

Instruction: The teacher facilitates a webinar in the previous week called “Facilitating Engaging Webinars Workshop” where students are oriented to the tools available in the Ultra platform to engage participants. Students get hands-on practice in breakout groups using the tools. We discuss best practices and examples of facilitation and have an interactive white board activity where students discuss the difference between presentation and facilitation. Then, together as a class, we come up with the rubric criteria for their peer evaluation which models the facilitation of a group decision-making process and creates ownership of the assessment criteria since it is the students who come up with the criteria.

Course Materials: The teacher shows students the Facilitation Guide used to facilitate the session and gives students copies of the guide for them to use as a template when they facilitate their sessions. Other materials in the course include videos: Planning a Webinar, Recommended Format to Follow, and Avoiding ‘Death by Power Point’ along with an accompanying video quiz.

Peer Evaluation: Students evaluate their peers they observed using the criteria we came up with as a class. They use a rating system of 1 to 3, with 3 being the highest and have to provide constructive feedback using the sandwich method and explain their point allocation. Included in the instructions is a video on ‘growth mindset’ to prepare students to give and receive feedback for improvement. This authentic assessment gives students real-world skills in giving and receiving feedback as well as higher-order evaluation skills.

The developers of this strategy have included the lesson plan for preparing students to facilitate a webinar.


Link to scholarly reference(s)

Knowles, M. (2005). The adult learner: The definitive classic in adult education and human resource development. Burlington, MA: Elsiver.

Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. (2015). Skills for social progress: The power of social and emotional skills. Paris, France: OECD.

Rekrut, M. (1994). Teaching to learn: Strategy utilization through peer tutoring. High School Journal, 77(4), 304-314.


Leslie, H., & McCarty, S. (2018). Preparing students to facilitate a webinar. In B. Chen, A. deNoyelles, & A. Albrecht (Eds.), Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository. Orlando, FL: University of Central Florida Center for Distributed Learning.

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