In Professor Robin Kay’s webinar for Topic 4, I learnt some of the best practices for blended and online course design in order to encourage active learning and deep engagement among students. I encountered new digital tools and methods. For instance, it had not occurred to me to introduce myself to my students through a short video at the beginning of a module. Afterall, I am standing there before them in class or speaking with them over ZOOM; surely, they can see and hear me. But I will consider the suggestions when I design or teach a new course. Other ideas like building community, managing breakout groups, and consolidating the lesson in closing I have been practising. Thus, I am moving in the right direction generally.

During our PBL3+ group discussions, we agreed on active learning as involving higher order skills such as application, analysis and synthesis of knowledge. To achieve active learning (Bloom’s Taxonomy Level 4 and above) via Blended Learning, we applied the Online Engagement Elements (OEE) – social, emotional, collaborative, cognitive and behavioral – in the design of our video presentation. We also agreed to define engagement as “the degree of attention, curiosity, interest, optimism, and passion that learners show when they are learning or being taught, which extends to the level of motivation they have to learn and progress in their education” (The Definitive Guide to Learner Engagement in 2018 – TalentLMS).

Though I am glad that I have used some of the methods and tools mentioned in the webinar and PBL discussions, I realised that I have not always seen them as part of a seamless course design. For instance, I may not have consciously ensured that the synchronous and asynchronous activities are woven together to achieve collaboration, active learning and authentic engagement. Henceforth, these activities should form links in the chain that contribute to each course I design and teach/facilitate. I picked up many ideas from my groupmates, among them, using real-life cases/scenarios for pre-class reading and then in-class discussion; the use of the poll everywhere app for quizzes on materials students covered asynchronously; collecting students’ questions that have been asked asynchronously and collating them on a discussion forum for peer and tutors’ responses.

The following is how I would design and facilitate a new iteration of my current module (with adjustments depending on the cohort/prevailing circumstances). For their individual research project on a challenge or controversy in international higher education, asynchronously, students search the literature (applying the SQ4R learnt earlier), plan their methodology, and share their research plan to TEAMS. During class, in small groups, they synchronously discuss their research plans and give each other feedback before presenting their revised plan to the tutor and the whole class. After class, they again share their finalised plan to TEAMS and conduct their interviews/surveys/etc. In a subsequent meeting, they discuss their findings and analysis (which they have uploaded to TEAMS before the class), and exchange feedback. The process goes on until the project is completed.

Going forward, I will approach course design with blended and online learning, synchronous and asynchronous activities in mind, so that they scaffold students’ active learning as well as motivate their engagement.



Armstrong, P. (2010). Bloom’s Taxonomy. Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching.

Kay, R. (2022, Nov 22). Thriving Online in Higher Education.

The Definitive Guide to Learner Engagement in 2018 – TalentLMS. (n.d.) It’s Not Just About Fun: The essential guide to learner engagement.


Topic 4: Blended and Active Learning, Synchronous and Asynchronous Activities