13–26 November

For this topic we shift our focus from participation in a learning environment into how to support and design for learning. Over this fortnight, you will have the opportunity to explore different frameworks/models and current trends in learning design and how they can be applied in online and blended settings. Supporting student learning by scaffolding and facilitation is a key area in the provision of a ‘quality’ educational experience in formal settings. Successful student support has a marked and positive impact on retention, progression, completion rates and overall student satisfaction – this can be even more so for students studying online. You will be encouraged to reflect on your own experience of what constitutes good design as well as consider your how you can design and support flexible, blended and online learning in your own teaching practice.

Activities for all learners

Discuss  in the ONL G+ Community (and/or in your PBL group)
Share your personal experiences regarding different aspects of designing learning environments. Discuss and explore together effective support and facilitation strategies that do or could work in your professional context.

Join the webinar with Martha Cleveland-Innes  November 15, 16.00-17.00 (CET). During this webinar Martha will elaborate on how important design for online and blended learning is for higher education change and present the framework Community of Inquiry.
See the event page!

During previous topics  we have encouraged you to try out twitter as a tool for collaborative and networked learning.  If you haven’t yet tried out Twitter you might want to give it a try during this topic. Have a look at Alastairs video What is Twitter? and make a tweet during the week.

We hope that you also will  join this topic’s Tweetchat on November 22, 10.00-11.00 (CET)! A Tweetchat or Twitter chat is  a synchronous discussion run through Twitter – good fun and worth trying. For tips on how you participate, watch the video “How to take part in a Twitter chat” and see the event page.

Learning blog – reflection:
Towards the end of the topic, finalise and share your reflections in your blog and have a look around how others have captured their stories. Suggested themes for reflection in your learning blog:

  • Reflect on your current practice and reason about possibilities for development of online and blended learning designs.
  • Reflect on how you can provide support, facilitation and scaffolding for students in online and blended learning environments.
  • Are there opportunities for further development in this area, that you have identified as a result of your own experiences as a learner in the ONL course and of your engagement in this topic?

Feedback on blogs
One essential aspect in designing and supporting learning is to regard the importance of feedback. We would therefore like to encourage you view and comment on other participants blogs – remember how motivating constructive feedback can be!
(A reminder: if you are aiming for a certificate, you need to both write reflective posts and comment on others (see how to participate).

PBL group work

For guidance on PBL group work including the FISh design please see Learning activities. For this topic you will have two scenarios to choose between (or combine) for your PBL group inquiry.

“I am part of a team that run a four week course in how to be an online tutor. This course is designed to give our tutors the theory, research and practical experience of being both an online tutor and a student, to help them support their own distance learners. However, one of the questions we always get asked is how do you keep online learners actively engaged? We ask it of ourselves frequently because of the decreasing enthusiasm of our participants as the course goes on, and external pressures impact on their time. So we find this a real challenge, how to support and facilitate engagement and activity as well as systematic reflection throughout a whole course!”

“I have recently attended a course on online learning and it has been quite exciting and an eye opener regarding possibilities as well as challenges. So how can I now put this into play in the activities and contexts that I am involved in, both my teaching and maybe also my leisure activities where I also work with groups and learning. In all the courses I teach we strive for constructive alignment, I wonder how a more online and blended approach would fit with this? To convince our heads of department, I think I must find good arguments and maybe try to illustrate in a visual way what a good design could look like. I wonder which activity, module or course I should choose? Maybe I should involve some of the colleagues in this?”

Readings and resources


Salmon, G (2013) The Five Stage Model. [Homepage] http://www.gillysalmon.com/five-stage-model.html

Vaughan, N. D., Cleveland-Innes, M., & Garrison, D. R. (2013). Teaching in blended learning environments: Creating and sustaining communities of inquiry. Edmonton: AU Press. Chapter 1 “Conceptual framework”. PDF available here

John Biggs – constructive alignment [Homepage]  http://www.johnbiggs.com.au/academic/constructive-alignment/

Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching Effectiveness (2013, August 29). Constructive Alignment
[YouTube video]. 

Further optional readings and resources

About Community of Inquiry

Vaughan, N. D., Cleveland-Innes, M., & Garrison, D. R. (2013). Teaching in blended learning environments: Creating and sustaining communities of inquiry. Edmonton: AU Press.
The whole book as PDF available here.

Other models/frameworks/tools for learning design

Conole, G. (2015). The 7Cs of Learning Design. Manuscript. PDF available here.

jclarkgardner (2011, June 11) ADDIE Model Instructional Strategies [YouTube videos playlist]

eLearning Implementation Toolkit Infographic based on ADDIE available here.

Open Learning Design Studio’s MOOC (2013). Learning Design for a 21st Century Curriculum. http://www.olds.ac.uk/

Bates, T (2016). The 10 Fundamentals of Teaching Online for Faculty and Instructors. PDF available here. Consider Guide 4 and 9 in particular for this topic.

Lister, M (2014)  Trends in the Design of E-Learning and Online Learning. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching Vol. 10, No. 4, 671-680. PDF available here.

Morrison, D (2015)  Online Learning Insights, Resources for Course Designers available here.



By the end of this topic, you will have had the opportunity to

  • discuss pedagogical approaches;  possibilities and challenges in designing online learning environments
  • create a learning opportunity using models for design of online and blended learning; and
  • reflect on how to design for learning and support learners in your own practice.


webinar Webinar – 15 November 16.00–17.00 (CET) See the event page!

twitter Tweetchat – 22 November 10.00–11.00 (CET) See the event page!


Please remember to check out and update your activity in the Activity tracker!

  • Add your details and blog address (if you have not already done this)
  • By the end of the topic, complete the section for topic 4 with brief descriptions of your activity.