Log in

Unpacking online facilitation of community groups

The first steps...

So, you're interested in facilitating or mentoring others - beyond the face-to-face in online spaces? Now what?

In this video on, Establishing a professional learning community, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach talks about establishing key roles for community members – as champions, 'go to' people, mentors, cheerleaders.


If we want to set a collaborative, co-constructed tone for our online community, then which role will be yours?



As we begin to establish this community, we might need to think about what social networking actions or approaches we might do online, so that targeted group of individuals can feel comfortable, welcome and supported within our communities (For more, see Why build an online community?)

If we want to be an active part of this community, then we'll each want to be seen to:

  • Be visible online with an updated profile (image/avatar/information/passions/role/contact details)
  • Make friends with others in our regional group
  • Introduce yourself/ourselves in the designated discussion threads.

When you see new people join your group, you can acknowledge their arrival and send them a message on their message board similar to this:

Kia ora XXX, thank you for joining the XXX group. It is envisioned that these groups will become a central hub for xxx.

You might like to take a few moments to introduce yourself, tell us where you're from, share a photo or perhaps your mihi in this welcome thread XXXX. This is a great way to establish and connect a community online, so we'd love to hear from you. Ngā mihi nui, XXX :-)

There's probably no point inviting people to this party - they turn up, knock on the door, take a look around and realise there’s no host and the other guests are all hiding.



imageYou may want to make the purpose clear and start modelling this in facilitated conversations online, so that we go beyond socialising (weclome) to resource sharing, knowledge building - to reflective practice, resulting in some kind of collective action. 

For example:

  • Model why you are coming together in a group by initiating threaded conversations.
  • Be a role model yourself, demonstrate good practice, and provide regular postings - related to localised need, share stories
  • Take people on a walking tour of your group. During face-to-face events is also an invaluable time to do this.
  • As well as inviting people into the groups and sending personal messages to welcome them, shoulder tap and mentor others to engage, respond, ask questions online


    If online spaces are being used to provide blended support for teachers, considerations may also include:

    What actions/outcomes/events are going to happen before/during/after any f2f events? Are these going to be addressed virtually or in person? 

    If the methodology or delivery method is virtual, then we can ask ourselves...

    • What resources (readings, video, research, collaborative docs, images, websites) can be 'presented' online prior to a face-to-face event?
    • What understandings can be wrapped around these resources prior to a face-to-face event?
    • What trends/conversations have emerged during F2F imageevents that we can leveraged online?
    • What stories, resources, templates, ideas have been shared during F2F events that can be leveraged online?
    • Do I know who is engaging in the conversations online and who would benefit from engaging in these conversations, if they aren't already?
    • How am I making these conversations visible to others behind the scenes (online and F2F)?
    • Am I making myself visible via personal messages or in the public forum (if relevant)? 
    • How can I mentor others to be proactive onlineconnectors/feeders/communicators?
    • How can I help to scaffold conversations that model information exchange, construction and development?


    Do you...

    • see any perceived issues arising with the group you've created? Technical or otherwise? 
    • need any further clarification on facilitating online?
    • have some ideas or resources of your own to share, so everyone can gain a collective understanding of what you're/we're trying to achieve?
    • have enough time to mentor/monitor the online space?


    You might also like: