Facilitating large diverse groups (v2)

Design Pattern

Use facilitators in discussion fora to help promote learner-learner interactions.

Name: Facilitating large diverse groups

Managing discussion to facilitate interaction for learning.


Where collaboration is needed, or co-creation of learning is desired, as well as where interaction serves a supportive social function, how do we manage large diverse groups to ensure easy participation, inclusivity and valuable discussion?


These are interatactions taking place in Moodle and FutureLearn style platforms, with very limited forum management tools available to faciliatators and moderators.  The design of the forum platforms is separate from the individuals who execute the management of the forums.

This makes it dificult to ensure that every individual gets a response to their posting.


 1.  The vision must be designed and executed by a team.

2.  The team must represent all the roles of the team that will execute the MOOC.

3.  during execution the communication lines between those delivering and those creating and designing the platform tools.  Communication needs to be rapidly repsonded to.

4.  Use facilitators to post on threads were greater interaction is desired, as this attracts learners who seek closeness to the academic educator and team.

5.  More immediate management of potentially problematic posts is needed.

6.  As an alternative to group discussion, using collaboration tools to create specific tasks that are individual tasks, but which are shared and benefitted from by the whole group, increase participation and a sense of deriving value from the interaction.


The effect of educator presence was apparent in h817open - Openness to Education, where even in spontaneous forums formed on other platforms generated activity on that thread.

On the h817open MOOC, access to forum management tools improved as the technologists and forum facilitators communicated directly when the amount of communication being channelled through the designer proved unworkable.

On Begin Programming, a FutureLearn beta platform course, the number of posts in the first week was so high that the activity feed would only show them for coulple of minutes (activity feed shows all new posts in the course but limited to some 100 posts). Some learners posted the same question several times even though their initial post had been answered to because of difficulties of finding their own posts as search functionality and a reply respones system was unavailable.

Data and References


**Since the first and second run of the FutureLearn begin programming MOOC the educator/facitlitator team requested for the search facility and a reply response system. On the third run of the offering the MOOC platform has implemented a reply response system.

** On coursera platform it allows learners to start their own threads. However, when one types in the title for the post, it brings up a list of already existing threads that has similar word patterns in them. This gives the participant to see whether his/her question is already answered in those threads and if appropriate to post on an existing thread rather than creating a new one.

Author(s): Yishay Mor, Steven Warburton
Published at: 18 Mar 2019 14:44 GMT
Original link (login required): https://ilde.upf.edu/moocs/pg/lds/view/2129/