Back to Articles

Creating a facilitation plan

Expert Tips
Caitlin Foran
Written by
Caitlin Foran

If you’ve facilitated a few online courses before, you’ll know there’s a bit of a pattern to the sorts of posts and comments you’ll be making – a welcome, weekly updates for each module, and so on. 

So, it can save a whole lot of time to re-use some of the posts you use consistently.

We recommend setting up a facilitation plan for each course. A week-by-week (or lesson-by-lesson) break down of when and why you’ll need to post, including text that you can reuse. 

What a facilitation template might include

As each course will have different activities in different weeks, rather than break it down week-by-week, we’ve broken this article into categories of the sorts of things you'll be doing. 

  • Strong beginnings with induction and/or introduction tasks.
  • Section wrappers that prepare learners for starting the module and then, as they complete the module, help to consolidate what they've learned.
  • Information about key tasks and common feedback to support learners through tasks.
  • Talk channel and discussion posts to start, guide and summarise talk channel or in-page discussions within the course.
  • Saying goodbye by congratulating learners on what they've learned and encouraging them on to their next part of their journey.

Together these outline a structured flow of facilitator engagement that guides and encourages learners through the course. It's a clear picture of facilitator presence in the course and should help learners feel like there's someone there who cares about their progress. A big factor in learner engagement and retention!

A template to help

We’ve created a Facilitation plan template that you can use right away. Just choose Make a copy when you follow the link.

This template has example text that you can personalise. But remember, the examples are not intended to be prescriptive! Instead, we hope you might be able to use these as a starting point to make your facilitation plan your own and with your voice.

Strong beginnings

First impressions count. When learners first log in to a course, you want them to feel welcome and help get them confident in exploring the course and platform. 

Here are some of the sorts of things you might include in your facilitation plan to create a strong beginning.

Section wrappers

Section wrappers are really just the Aristotlean triptych:

  1. Tell them what you’re going to tell them
  2. Tell them.
  3. Tell them what you told them.

While 2 is taken care of within the content, 1 and 3 are another great way to maintain your facilitator presence in the course. Plus it can help to keep learners motivated and on track!

Starting a module/section

When learners are starting a new module/section you want to prep them by telling them these sorts of things:

  • Introducing learners briefly to the key concepts in this section.
  • Connecting concepts to what learners already know.
  • Answering the question "What's in it for me?" for learners.
  • Outlining any key resources or tasks coming up in the section.

For example:

This week we’re starting (and finishing) Module 1. It’s a really short module, so you should only dedicate about an hour to it. Don’t forget to complete the ‘Who’s who’ discussion (including reading other learners’ introductions). As this is the fourth course, by now you would have seen how helpful it can be to say “hi” and make connections with your fellow learners.

This week is also a good time to have a look at:

- the structure of the course (read the overview and open the contents menu),
- the requirements for the assessments (go to
Tasks on your course menu, then choose Assessed and view each assessment). 

If you have any questions, just reply to this post.

Ending a module/section

End a module/section by summarising the key learnings. You might like to call out things like: 

  • Key concepts they've mastered in this section.
  • Where these concepts fit in with the rest of the course and/or implications for the future.
  • What learners have learned/gained/achieved in completing the section (especially in completing key tasks).
  • Common themes you noticed in learners' activity e.g. in discussions or responses to tasks.

For example:

We’ve now come to the end of Promotional Documents. As we completed this section we learned that a big part of making a promotional document is creating a brief and a plan before you get started. That's right - Plan, plan, plan, do.

For many of you, you would have started off this section having just an idea of what a promotional document is. And now...? You can make them! That's an awesome skill and achievement.

The skills you've learned here about promotional documents apply equally well across other software so you'll be using these skills later in the course and throughout your work.

If you feel like you’re now able to create, edit and save a promotional document, brilliant! You’re onto the next section. If not…

- Maybe you’ve got some particular questions? Post them in the question channel.
- Maybe you’d just like some more practice? Try this video:
Making flyers for your organisation and then practice by making a flyer for 20% off cat haircuts.

Tasks and feedback

With key tasks, you might want to clarify both the purpose and expectations. 


In preparing learners for a key task you might describe:

  • The purpose of the task (e.g. what they get out of it, how the task relates to the course learning outcomes).
  • How long they have to do it in, with firm deadlines.
  • What to do if they have difficulties completing or submitting the task.

For example:

The task challenges through the module will help you practice the skills you need for the assignment, so I recommend going to the task, printing the first assignment and having it with you as you go through the module. Then…

- When you get to a challenge activity, give it a go and see if you can do it.
- If you get stuck, feel free to post a question in the General talk channel and/or try a quick Google search.

Once you’ve completed the challenge, see if there’s anything similar in the assignment, can you do it? Then either...

- Give the assignment task a go right away, or…
- Pop something in your diary to remind you to have another go at another time that suits your schedule (just don’t leave it too late!) 

I hope these steps help you, but if you’ve got your own methods that work – that’s great! Feel free to share your own methods here by replying to this post. You never know, your way might really help someone else!

Remind and motivate

Understandably learners can get a little anxious when it comes to assessment. As a facilitator you'll want to give them a reminder along with a wee dose of motivation. 

Before an assessment is due, make a post that includes these sorts of things.

  • Remind learners of exactly when the task is due.
  • Point out any last minute "gotchas" e.g. referencing, including all the attachments.
  • Give some expectations of what they can expect from you in terms of feedback (and when they're likely to get it).

For example:

Just a reminder that assignment 1 is due this week, [insert day, date and time for clarity]. Hope your work towards it is going well!

As you submit, remember to work through the checklist at the end of the assignment and double-check that you’ve included all the screenshots/attachments you need.

When you’ve finished all your checking, upload all your files and submit.

Great work and I look forward to giving you your feedback on your first assignment for the course. You'll be receiving feedback within two weeks after submissions close.

P.S. Remember to give yourself a wee break after submitting your assignment too. Studying can be hard and giving yourself breaks and celebrating (even if it’s just a soak in the bath or a small treat) helps you keep up the motivation you’ll need to complete the course.

Feedback and feedforward

If there is a common piece of feedback you find yourself needing to give on tasks, your first port of call should be to try address this via the course content and/or task instructions. 

That said, you might still have other non-specific affirming feedback that would be useful to reuse with a tweak or two to make it relevant to this particular learner. Or you might have feedforward aimed at supporting someone with a mid-level achievement to a higher level of achievement for the next task. Popping this kind of stuff in your facilitation plan means it’s all in one easy-to-find spot.

For example:

Your comparison of [x] and [y] for this task was “Developing” because you gathered and presented your evidence and descriptions of x and y to compare them. 

I really think for the next task that you’ll be able to take it to the next level! For the next task, try to
organise your evidence and descriptions to highlight patterns, similarities or differences between the things you're comparing/analysing.


As with key tasks, you can support discussions by clarifying purpose and expectations (of their contributions and yours!). Facilitators also often need to guide (or encourage) the discussion as it begins, and summarise as it ends.


  • The purpose of the discussion - Why learners are doing it and/or how it relates to key skills or outcomes.
  • The discussion task - What participants should do and how they can go about doing it.
  • Contribution guidance - This could be how the participants should work together.
  • Time guidance - This includes how long it should take as well as over what time period the discussion will run e.g. From Monday to Thursday (if applicable). 
  • Your role - How (and/or when) you will contribute or moderate as a facilitator.

For example:

Your discussion task for this week is to describe a character from literature or film (not a real person) that exemplifies the kind of leader you would like to be. This is our first step in defining our own unique leadership style.

Your post should be 3-5 sentences and include these elements:

- The character's name and the name of the book/film they're from.
- Which leadership qualities that character exhibits which resonate with you.
- Why you would like to be that kind of a leader.

Once you've made your post, find a post from another learner where you can relate to someone else's chosen person and describe the qualities of that character that you relate to. 

Throughout the week I'll be checking in to see how the discussion is going, but will be more of an observer and leave the interactions and learning up to you.

Encourage and guide

As the discussion is getting started, your main goal as a facilitator is to encourage participation and guide the quality and content of initial contributions.

  • Encouraging, acknowledging and reinforcing student contributions.
  • Setting a climate for learning.
  • Drawing in participants / prompting discussion.

For example:

I’m enjoying reading through people’s thoughts. [Learner A] your comment about [w] made me think about [x]. And [Learner B] your thoughts align really well with [y – theory/person/idea/trend]. Great work!I encourage others to keep contributing [can include time period e.g. “over the next week”]. It’s really worthwhile to see how each of you [approach/interpret z].


As a discussion is ending it's your job as the facilitator to tie the whole thing up. This helps consolidate the learning and makes it clear to learners that the class is moving on to the next part. Here are some of the things you might be doing to wrap the discussion up.

  • Filling in any gaps or answer any lingering questions about the topic (if the questions are answerable).
  • Helping to organise contributions into a simple summary (or mind map) that learners will be able to use.
  • Weaving and extending learners responses to make new connections or generate new propositions that may not have been immediately apparent.

For example:

Most of you decided to pick the photos without people, the ones that focused on the products (as that’s what’s the promotion is about!). That’s wonderful. Many of you also suggested a few of the photos might send the wrong message (for instance the second photo). There’s no real right or wrong answer for this discussion, what it is important to remember is to use professional and respectful images and that others from different backgrounds might react differently to photos than you do so it’s good to consider social and cultural factors.

Saying goodbye

As the course ends, you’ll want to congratulate learners and thank them for completing the course. This last post for the class is also a good opportunity to remind learners of their progress since the beginning of the course and celebrate what they have achieved.

For example:

Hoorah! Congratulations on finishing the course everyone! And… seeing as this is the last course in the programme… you’ve finished the qualification!

For some of you, this might have been your first time studying, so well done! Think about how much you’ve learned and progressed from the first course to now. Hopefully, you’ve got a whole new set of skills and are feeling ready to take those skills into a step into (or up) in [domain].

All the best for your future adventures!

An iQualify Skills course to keep learning

We’ve also got an iQualify Skills course: Creating a facilitation plan which walks you through the different areas in more detail, has more example text to use, and tasks to help you learn along the way.


As you’ll see, many of the things we described above could (also) be included in the actual course as they don’t change too much (e.g. section wrappers and expectations for tasks and discussions). That’s a call for you (and/or your organisation) to make. But, we will say that the advantage of doing this as a talk channel post as a facilitator is that it is timely and human. So to show and maintain your facilitator presence will greatly improve learners’ motivation and perception of the course.

Try us for free
Want to talk to someone? Get in touch.
Contact us