Instructional Design: Facilitated Learning

Service Overview

Ensure training and development changes performance and aligns to organizational strategy.

What is facilitated learning?

Facilitated learning is your traditional classroom based workshop. Employees gather in person or virtually to learn new content and skills from a facilitator or trainer. The facilitator leads employees through a course by presenting new content, leading activities, and generating discussion to reinforce learning.

Learn about the differences between a facilitator vs. a trainer.

Facilitated training can either be in-person in a physical room, or online in a virtual classroom. Online learning is also called virtual training, eclassroom or synchronous online learning. To facilitate an online course, the facilitator uses a virtual meeting platform like WebEx, Adobe Connect or Zoom .

When would you use in-person learning vs. online learning?

In-person training works well when employees are located in the same location geographically. Online training is a great option when employees are dispersed. It reduces costs associated with travel (e.g. airfare, hotel, and time spent travelling). However, poorly designed and delivered online training can be ineffective and not generate the change in performance you’re looking for. Here are a few tips I recommend:

  • Invest in a meeting platform that includes breakout rooms so you can replicate small group discussions and activities.
  • Take the time to design for online delivery – it’s not the same as in-person and requires creativity and an understanding of the platform’s capabilities.
  • Invest in a producer to manage the technology so the facilitator can focus on the learning and the employees’ experience.
  • Support your facilitator if they are new to online delivery – provide them with training and coaching so they can be confident and effective.

What is the instructional design process for facilitated learning programs?

Post: I follow the same instructional design process for facilitated learning as I outlined here.

  1. Create a High-Level Design – This includes the performance objectivelearning objectives, ‘flow’ or sequence of learning. The high-level design is a continuation of the needs assessment and lays the foundation for the training evaluation.If the course is online, the High-Level Design should identify the virtual platform, any technology constraints, if there will be a producer as well as a facilitator and the types of functionality the platform can accommodate (e.g., polls, raising hand, breakout rooms).
  2. Create a Detailed Design – This expands on the High-Level Design by incorporating specific timing and detailing the learning activities in facilitated learning.The detailed design for an online course needs to include high-level detail for the producer so there’s clarity between the facilitator and producer roles.
  3. Create the materials – The Facilitator Guide for an in-person course and a virtual course are quite different. The most significant difference is the level of detail. A Facilitator Guide for a virtual classroom needs to be highly scripted because the activities should be changing every 2 to 3 minutes. If there is a producer, I also include a producer column to highlight what needs to happen with the technology.
  4. Support the client in implementing the course – I find clients may need more support if they are new to online learning. I have worked with facilitators to coach them as they transition from delivering in-person to online. I have also assumed the ‘producer’ role to support facilitators getting started.


    Where can you learn more?

    Cindy Hugget’s book, The Virtual Training Guidebook: How to design, deliver, and implement online learning is a great resource with many helpful techniques to get started with virtual learning.

    The Institute for Performance and Learning (I4PL) has identified this as a core competency for learning professionals. Click here to learn how they structure this competency.

    These are some courses that were designed for facilitation:

    Here are some blog posts that provide additional information on online learning:

    Do you offer any courses?

    Performance Matters offers an online course where participants redesign an in-person program for online delivery. There are five modules, which mirror the instructional design process, including online facilitation skills. 

    Click here to learn more.

    Email me if you need help designing engaging training programs that result in a change in your employee’s performance.