1. Nuanced & positive understanding of professional digital interaction

I’ve long recognized the difference between ability and use of online tools. The distinction between digital visitor and resident (White) helps to frame that discussion in terms of motivation rather than ability. The concept of the many different kinds of digital literacies (media literacy, information literacy, ICT literacy, digital scholarship, learning skills, communication and collaboration, career and identity management) also contributed to this (JISC 2014).

Related to this is the ONL focus on developing a professional digital identity. This could be as simple as creating accounts for yourself on twitter and LinkedIn to make yourself visible and to enable others to connect with or include you in conversations. Of course, more actively developing your professional digital identity gives you the opportunity to shape how you are presented online, rather than passively being defined by others. There is already information available about you on the internet, developing a professional digital identity enters you into a conversation about how to control and develop your online reputation and identity purposefully.

PLN (professional or personal learning network) goes a step further than digital identity in order to cultivate space for learning (Oddone). It’s not just about you, it’s about you being able to engage with resources and communities in order to learn, share and create knowledge about relevant topics for you.

2. Excellent resources

There were a bunch of good readings in this course and it’s great the that the ONL webpages and PBL google docs remain active after the course because it makes all these resources so much more accessible. There were a handful of sources that I see myself returning to as references and inspiration for designing activities ideas so I made a collection of them under References Worth Returning To at the end of this post.

Even now, I started thinking about resources by considering the reading list, but it’s about more than just papers. Through ONL, I have created this space, connected with others interested in online learning from around the world, I have posted and followed interesting people on twitter, and I’ve discovered interesting learning blogs and other digital resources.Awareness of different ways of doing things.

3. Awareness of possibilities

This course challenged everyone to test out new ways of learning and new tools for learning. There’s a balancing act that has to happen here, to bring in new ways of doing things and new tools without overwhelming learners. Walking through this together with a group was a good reminder of how to introduce new things. This course definitely strengthened my preexisting tendency to test, reflect and improve.

ONL also broadened my perspective on the possibilities of digital interaction. Through the design and experience of the course it demonstrates the potential of openness, PLNs, networked learning, and digital learning environments. The pedagogy behind the learning activities is often more important than the specific location in which the learning takes place. So start by designing based on the purpose of the activity and the desired type of interaction, then remember that online teaching tends to intensify existing problems in learning environments.

Thank you to all who have discussed, questioned, and commented throughout the course!

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on


David White: Visitors and residents (part 1)

Developing digital literacies (2014) JISC guide. Available here

Oddone, K. (2016). PLE or PLN or LMS or OLN?  Blog post about the ONL course.

References Worth Returning To

Bates, T. (2019). Teaching in a Digital Age: Guidelines for Teaching and Learning. (2nd edition)

Cleveland-Innes, M. & Wilton, D. (2018). Guide to Blended Learning. Burnaby: Commonwealth of Learning.

Conrad, D. & Openo, J. (2018). Strategies for Online Learning. Engagement and Authenticity. Edmonton: AU Press.

Open Universities report Innovating pedagogy 2021 available here

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

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) – homepage and guidelines

Key ONL Takeaways