Experience Online Learning from the Student Perspective

FLO (Facilitating Learning Online) is a three-week fully online course that enables Brown faculty, TAs, and instructional staff to learn first-hand what it's like to be an online learner from the student perspective, and to participate in an asynchronous online course before developing or facilitating one of their own. FLO participants learn as a cohort, exploring and discussing online pedagogical best practices through researched-based content, thought-provoking assignments, and facilitator-led discussions that demonstrate how effective online learning can be — when properly designed and facilitated.

Launched in 2013, FLO is generally offered three times a year, in October, January, and May.

Enroll in the next session.


  • 3-week faculty development program

  • Facilitators: SPS Online Team instructional designers

  • SPS Digital Media Group

  • 1-2 hours per week required of participants

  • Fully online, asynchronous

  • Participants who successfully complete course requirements earn a certificate of completion

  • Canvas LMS


As Brown University’s School of Professional Studies expanded its online and blended learning programs, the need to develop a better understanding of the effectiveness of online learning when properly designed and facilitated became apparent. In response, the SPS Online Team developed FLO. The aims of this short course are to provide faculty with a guided experience in the online environment, illuminate the best practices and pedagogical opportunities they can consider, explore fresh ideas through a peer engagement experience (like what we want students to experience), and share relevant technology tips and tools.

FLO has been revised and refined multiple times to reflect timely issues and current resources available to help faculty to design and teach online courses that model best practices in online pedagogy.

Watch video: FLO: Facilitating Learning Online presentation at InstructureCon 2013

Project Lead: Instructional Design Team / Online Team, School of Professional Studies

Contact: Rebecca Taub, Senior Instructional Designer ([email protected])

Learn more about designing & teaching online courses with SPS's Online Team



  • Faculty report that participating in FLO is an invigorating experience that positively impacts their undergraduate/graduate teaching practices and course design

  • Course success has spurred additional and ongoing development of faculty support resources

  • SPS has shared the course under Creative Commons with 30 higher ed institutions eager to develop online faculty

“This course demystified the process of creating an online course, or an online component to a face-to-face course, in ways I found to be quite helpful. Mainly I will remember the practical suggestions for how to manage an online course effectively: namely, how to maintain reasonable instructor presence, and encourage peer-to-peer interaction that will aid in achieving learning outcomes.”

“The discussions between faculty members were great and so were the comments from our facilitators. I liked the introduction to the media resources that were easy to incorporate into Canvas. Perhaps the most helpful aspect of the course was that it demonstrated how online learning is a tool that can be used for any course to enhance the learning experience for students.”

“I remember the interactions I had with my colleagues and the course facilitators the most. These interactions are what really spurred my learning.”

- Brown faculty and other FLO participants


  • Determining the appropriate course length and participate engagement requirements that both acknowledge faculty time constraints and allow sufficient time to meet course learning objectives

  • Accommodating faculty requests to cover additional topics related to online learning and online course development (see above)


FLO graduates consistently design and lead their courses with greater efficiency, fewer frustrations, more enjoyment, and with a better understanding of the opportunities and challenges of teaching and learning online.

Since its launch 2013, over 100 members of the Brown community have successfully completed FLO.