These are in my opinion the 30 most important factors in managing and moderating an online learning environment.
1. Set clear objectives for the session.
2. Become familiar and proficient at the use of the technology – practice in advance.
3. Provide an overview of timetable, procedures, expectations and decision-making norms
4. Create a policy on communications.
5. Value participation.
6. Generate ideas through active brainstorming and facilitate development of consensus.
7. Set a specific amount of time for group discussion and collaboration.
8. Encourage contributions from ‘student experts’.
9. Use problem solving and case study approaches.
10. Set topics clearly and in advance so that the conversation doesn’t wander.
11. Limit instructor participation – complement and expand on ideas, don’t offer them.
12. Vary presentations with discussion and student-centered activity.
13. Engage experts or professionals in a related field via presentations and panel
14. Encourage active use of peer messaging.
15. Test the presentation online in advance of your scheduled lesson.
16. Ask a lot of questions, and review answers or comments providing summary comment.
17. Be prepared for technology failure – have a backup option (email, fax or telephone).
18. Make sure participants are comfortable with the system – hold practice sessions.
19. Don’t rely on offline materials – bring them into the online environment for discussion.
20. Be conversational and avoid sounding lofty and academic.
21. Create open debates with posted positions on topics.
22. Thank students publicly for comments that show insight or depth.
23. End sessions at the posted time.
24. Be patient; speak slowly and distinctly.
25. Set the agenda and pace, be prepared to adjust according to participant need.
26. Manage the flow and direction of discussion without stifling creative opportunity –
watch for balance in contribution, particularly the instructor’s!
27. Be responsive – remedy issues as they arise, help participants with information
28. Use private messaging for prompting appropriate contributions.
29. Provide a weekly agenda of activities and assignments.
30. Be sure to begin and end at agreed time.
LaBonte, Randy et al (2003) Moderating Tips for Synchronous Learning Using Virtual Classroom Technologies. Odyssey Learning Systems Inc. Retrieved from
http://odysseylearn.com/Resrce/text/e-Moderating%20tips.pdf [Available as an Eresource]