Time managment is very important for an online course facilitator. E-moderator faces specific challenges: having to combine face-to-face life with online responsibilities. The text below focuses on strategies to plan your online activities as a facilitator. Although e-learning is described as 24/7 activity it doesn’t mean you are available all the time. It is your task is to decide how much time you need to dedicate to reach the objectives of the course.
Decide how much time (daily and weekly) you require from the participants, and from yourself, to spend on the course. Take into account not only your motivation but also external factors, such as combining online work with offline responsibilities, or holiday breaks. Underestimating the time is one of the most common mistakes that lead to frustration and more work. Plan the tools that can support you, use the calendar and think ahead.
- Invest in preparing support: some problems will appear but they can be anticipated. Spend some time to prepare support for the participants (e.g. a Course Guide, an FAQ, and a well-planned course structure and elements). This can reduce the amount of questions and remarks and save you time. If you run more editions of the course, this investment will bring multiple returns.
- Create reusable content. Archive your comments, e.g. summaries of forum discussions. You can never use them in their entirety but some fragments can be reused. A good example of reusable content is mentioned in the above Course Guide.
- Work systematically. Regularly reply to messages (2 days maximum). When you wait for everyone to contribute this time can be prolonged, but your regularity is essential. Divide your work into chunks easier to complete for you and your learners.
- Motivate participants to work systematically for everyone’s benefit. If everyone submits their assignments on time or contributes to the discussion, it will be a one-time effort for you to prepare the evaluation. It will not be necessary to go back to what others have already written just to provide feedback for someone who is late.
- Be online regularly. You can use free time slots during your daily schedule.
- Learn the tools. Use software that you know well. Use applications that speed up your work (e.g. search engine tabs, e-mail filters, forum notifications).
- Practice writing, it is a major part of a facilitator’s work. Prepare standard posts if you frequently facilitate courses.
- Build a group, it increases your and your participants’ efficiency. If the group is active, organising their work will cost you less effort. It may happen that they solve their problems on their own before you have to intervene.