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The Trainer's Application of Vygotsky's "Zone of Proximal Development" to Asynchronous Online Training of Faculty Facilitators

Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration Volume 9, Number 4, ISSN 1556-3847


Faculty members require training when they first learn how to teach in a specific online format. Such training introduces them to the technical features that will allow an exchange of information, discussions, and course materials and to how to use these features to advance student learning. "Online" education can mean asynchronous or no real-time interactions, synchronous or live simultaneous interactions, or a combination. Messages that students post independently at any hour of the day or night in response to discussion questions or topics are asynchronous; posts done in a Chat-Room in real-time with class members or the class as a cohort are synchronous. The term "faculty facilitator" denotes a faculty role for promoting learning in a student-centered environment; the faculty facilitator is responsible for sufficient course design and structure to help the student meet the objectives but there is less of a dominant teacher emphasis. The online trainer of faculty facilitators in asynchronous learning environments typically will have no prior interaction with facilitators in ways that might lead to establishing positive relationships for learning. The relationship usually starts "cold" and the length of trainer-facilitator interaction may be short. A goal of the trainer is to model good online teaching and learning practices, one of which is the establishment of positive relationships for learning in the new asynchronous environment. Vygotsky's (1978) contributions to learning theory in his "Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD)" offer a framework for the trainer to use when working with faculty facilitators. The purposes of this paper are to identify factors that influence the ZPD relationship and strategies that the online trainer can use to mediate this relationship in an asynchronous online environment consistent with Vygotsky's basic tenets.


Welk, D.S. (2006). The Trainer's Application of Vygotsky's "Zone of Proximal Development" to Asynchronous Online Training of Faculty Facilitators. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 9(4),. Retrieved July 3, 2020 from .

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