We are approaching the end of the Open Networked Learning course. This time we have addressed topic 4, being the focus on technology-enhanced learning design, which is one of my top practice and research interests within my academic trajectory in educational technology. On the other hand, of course, the topic comes now really timely, since everyone now had to go through the experience, whether they liked it or not, to prepare online courses.

Reflecting on my own practice

This is the topic that I found the most interesting for my practice, because even if I already knew about the Community of Inquiry model and the e-moderation stages from Salmon, I had not had taken before the opportunity to reflect on them for my practice. The models that I have been using so far within the field of learning design include different frameworks mentioned by Bower and Vlachopoulos (2018), such as the 7Cs Learning Design Framework (Conole, 2015) or the Conversational Framework (Laurillard, 2002). I would say that these models are quite useful to think about the learning activities within a course.

Using the Community of Inquiry survey instrument (Arbaugh, Cleveland-Innes, Díaz, Garrison, Ice, Richardson & Swan, n.d.), I have reflected on my own current teaching practice (all online due to the COVID19 situation) and I have found some strengths and weaknesses.
I think I usually try to cover the best the teaching presence, in terms of the three elements involved (design & organisation, facilitation and direct instruction) – of course, always with room for improvement. I also aim at integrating the cognitive presence as a core element in my courses, since they are based on learners’ activity to deal with (broad) problems / situations preparing solutions that are to be designed quite openly/freely, with general and adapted guidance.
I feel that social presence and emotional presence are the most challenging ones. I promote social presence through group presentations, discussions, collaborative activities… And what I have been doing in terms of emotional presence includes warmly welcoming learners, being open to their needs/interests, embedding positive feelings in my feedback – for example, I give personalised feedback to each blog post of my students (including emoticons 🙂 ).
These are ways in which I think support, facilitation and scaffolding for students in online and blended learning environments can be provided. However, I think that I can still work harder on those presences (social and emotional).

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Having teaching experience with diverse groups of learners (in terms of ages, level of maturity, geographical contexts and learning formats) has made me aware of the importance of being flexible in designing the different presences. Each group of learners is different, and what it was enough for a group could be not sufficient for another. And this situation changes, even from one cohort to another in the same study program in an institution. This is probably the most challenging aspect of being a lecturer! 🙂

Reflecting as an ONL learner

As a final part of my reflection, I would like to make a short comment about the ONL course regarding this topic. I liked how well the course correlates to the stages of the five stage model from Salmon (2013) and I feel that the diverse dimensions are well covered in different parts: the teaching and cognitive presences seem to be more embedded in the presentation of the topics, the webinars and the twitter chats, whereas social and emotional presences could be felt more in the PBL groups, with the facilitators and the colleagues in the group.

Answering the last question for reflection within this topic: Yes, of course there are opportunities for further development in the area, and I will keep going to improve my practice!


Arbaugh, B., Cleveland-Innes, M., Díaz, S., Garrison, D. R., Ice, P., Richardson, P. S., & Swan, K. (n.d.). Col Survey. https://drive.google.com/uc?export=download&id=0B6f8A0rZbyC1Rm84VlpHTnUzbFk

Bower, M., & Vlachopoulos, P. (2018). A critical analysis of technology-enhanced learning design frameworks. British Journal of Educational Technology, 49(6), 981–997. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjet.12668

Conole, G. (2015). The 7Cs of Learning Design. https://www.opennetworkedlearning.se/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Grainne-Conole-the-7cs-of-learning-design.pdf

Laurillard, D. (2002). Rethinking university teaching: A conversational framework for the effective use of learning technologies. Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203304846

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

Reflection on topic 4: design for online and blended learning