Like all the other ONL topics, this one was designed to make us think. The focus of design for online and blended learning was not on the tools and technologies that could be used to design, but on the pedagogical aspects of frameworks and models that should be considered when creating good blended and online learning environments. The framework chosen was not one I was familiar with: Community of Inquiry; although I had heard of Gilly Salmon’s five stage model.

The focus of our investigation revolved round the scenario and required, as usual, becoming familiar with the supporting resources to inform the development of our opinions and responses.

I found the COI with its focus on presence a very useful framework as it moved the design from activities and resources to the relationship between learners, teachers and the course through the social presence, the teaching presence and the cognitive presence. It built on the earlier ONL topics by having us consider less what the learners would do and more about how the course would engage, empower and enable their learning. The earlier topics had taught the group about the importance of community and social learning, the movement of teachers to becoming facilitators and ways to encourage higher order learning that engaged critical involvement with course material. The introduction of the COI provided a framework to encompass the arguments the scenario requested to persuade a department head of the good practices to support a move towards online learning. The introduction of a fourth presence, emotional,  to the COI framework helped us to create educational arguments in the development of our fourth artefact.

Although the group focussed on Gilly Salmon’s model for how the proposed online course might develop its e-tivities, I am more familiar with Diane Laurillard’s six learning types of acquisition, collaboration, discussion, investigation, practice and production. I have utilised the ABC process to work with teaching staff and bridge the gap from traditional practice to online digital practice. I have found staff understand the activities related to the learning types and it is easy to show the links to modern digital alternatives. However, learning of the COI gave me a further useful tool to understand that successful courses rely on more than a series of tasks that need to be completed before a quiz or test to provide a grade. As I consider, in the future, which of the ABC types I might want to engage learners with; I will also focus on the different presences that can craft those types into deep and meaningful learning experiences. I will also study Gilly Salmon’s and G. Conole’s models to gain access to other tools for developing blended and online education.

The question in the image at the start of the post is one I will keep at the heart of my future course development in consultation with academic colleagues, as the majority of courses I work with are outcomes based.

“Inquiry” by ddesroches is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0


ABC Learning Design

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

Salmon, G (2013) The Five Stage Model. [Homepage]

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

Design for online and blended learning