Facilitator Notes for the Academic Team

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Co-authored by Marcia Chaudet, PhD, Teaching and Learning, and Amber West, Instructional Designer, Online Learning Centre

Have you ever found yourself added to a course roster at the eleventh hour? Or have you ever taken on a course with an unfamiliar instructional approach? With a diverse and growing faculty and roster of courses, the need for a comprehensive guide to navigate instructional methodologies becomes clear. Facilitator Notes are one such example of this type of resource. These notes serve as a comprehensive tool for all faculty, providing support and guidance for effective and consistent course delivery while facilitating students in achieving their course outcomes.

Why Include Facilitator Notes?

Facilitator Notes are supplementary materials for the teaching of the course only. The notes could be emailed weekly by a course guide or included in an eConestoga model as pages hidden from learners. No matter a course’s delivery mode, the purpose is always the same: these notes help the faculty with the course shell setup and delivery. Facilitator Notes provide a range of benefits to the teacher of a course and enrolled students, including:

  • Allowing a faculty member to confidently approach the teaching and facilitation of learning activities,
  • Previewing the course structure to help faculty stay ahead,
  • Enabling consistent learning across sections,
  • And more!

Why not add Facilitator Notes to a course you’re teaching? These notes can save faculty time, allowing them to focus on their teaching practice and support student learning.

What can be communicated in Facilitator Notes?

Let’s look at some of the most common ways Facilitator Notes can create consistent and helpful communication for faculty, from novice to experienced.

eConestoga Setup

Facilitator Notes can remind the faculty to set up LMS tools and the appropriate tool settings for each section.

For example, faculty may need to enable TurnItIn™ on assignment folders to check submissions for matching or similar text to sources in Turnitin’s databases or to complete the setup of Intelligent Agents to personalize email communications to students.

Details on Teaching

Facilitator Notes can provide insights into teaching approaches and weekly learning activities. For example, there might be notes about topics or activities that learners frequently find challenging. It can also enable faculty to identify and adapt the materials and course content to:

  • Suit their teaching practice,
  • Incorporate their expertise, and
  • Make additions to the course shell to reflect the specific students’ needs.

For example, notes may identify frequently changing topics/trends that the faculty member may want to create a quick video to support.

Student Engagement Opportunities

Some courses may have Facilitator Notes outlining placeholders of student activities that can be customized or set up for a section shell.
For example, notes on setting up Mentimeter questions and sharing the results or ideas for breakout sessions.

Assessment Support

Facilitator Notes can provide helpful guidance on assessing student learning, including:

  • Assessment rationale and expectations,
  • Criteria for grading and
  • Common feedback.

For example, notes could provide samples of what a “pass” vs. an “exemplary” answer could look like or highlight common misunderstandings in learners’ responses.

Weekly Instuctional Tasks

Facilitator Notes can help outline weekly instructional tasks. These can include reminders for:

  • Announcements for upcoming evaluations,
  • Setting students’ expectations around certain learning tasks, and
  • Checking formative and graded activities for student engagement.

For example, notes could suggest that faculty remind students about an assignment a few weeks before the deadline.

Tips on Use

Consider the following tips for crafting and implementing these facilitator notes for yourself and your colleagues.

Clear Language

Like any user manual, you want your notes to be interpreted clearly. Ensure you use clear language that all faculty can easily interpret and implement in their course sections.

Timely Reminders

Facilitator Notes are helpful beyond the start of the term. Consider weekly notes that benefit the course and the faculty.

Student Supports

Including troubleshooting tips and common student misconceptions can help faculty anticipate challenges students may face in the course and provide examples of effective supports and guidance.

You are encouraged to explore your current courses and see if there are opportunities to incorporate facilitator notes. High-quality facilitator notes support easier navigation and management of your course across all our learning modalities. We focus so much on our individual course sections, but what we can share is invaluable in supporting one another and, ultimately, students!

Marcie Chaudet

Marcia Chaudet, Ph.D. (Biological Sciences), has worked in post-secondary education since 2010, supporting faculty and support staff with their teaching development. For the past ten years, Marcia has taught in the biological sciences in both university and college sectors. Marcia specializes in approaches that support students learning in hybrid and online learning environments and empower faculty to take risks in their online teaching.

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