In this topic you will have the opportunity to explore a variety of contemporary concepts regarding design in online environments. 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 in online learning environments and consider effective practice in the support of flexible, blended and online learning offered by institutions to their own students and external learners.

Activities for all learners

Check out the suggested resources below and in Diigo. You may also conduct your own search and share resources you find useful.

In your PBL group or the open ONL152 community
Share your personal experiences regarding different aspects of the design of learning environments. Discuss and explore together effective support strategies that do or could work in your professional context.

This week’s synchronous activity is the Tweetchat on Wednesday 11 November, 20.00 (CET). Take part in the discussion and continue to tweet interesting links and ideas during the week. Remember to always include the hashtag #ONL152 in each tweet.

An essential aspect of this topic on supporting learning is the importance of feedback. We would therefore like to encourage you all to go to the Padlet page with blog addresses and read some blogs that you haven’t looked at before. Please comment – remember how motivating constructive feedback can be!

Learning blog

Reflect on your current practice and identify how we can provide better support and scaffolding to students in online learning environments.  Are there opportunities for further development in this area that you have now identified as a result of your own experiences as a learner in the ONL course and of your engagement in this topic? Comment and invite others to comment on your contribution. A reminder: If you are aiming for a certificate you need to both write reflective posts within a blog and comment on others (see how to participate).

PBL – work

For guidance on PBL group work including the FISh design please see Learning activities. Here’s this week’s scenario to consider in your PBL group.

Scenario: “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!”

Suggested readings and resources

To watch:

Salmon, G. (2013) Scaffolding for online learning. Available here

To read:

1. Conole, G. (2015). The 7Cs of Learning Design. Download as PDF (In press).

2. . Anderson, T. (Ed.). (2008). The theory and practice of online learning (pp 419-439). Athabasca University Press. Available here.

The above suggested readings for this topic are tagged with “ONL152 topic 6 Designing Learning Environments – suggested resource” in the ONL Diigo group.

Additional resources

ONL diigo group at

Please check this learners’ generated collection and add further resources you find useful and link well with this unit. Remember to use tags and comment on resources shared by others.


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

1. discuss the design of learning environments, approaches and challenges

2. reflect on supporting learners in your own practice


Wednesday 11 November, 20.00 – 21.00 (CET), see event page.

Please check your local time: