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As we start to come to the end of this ONL journey, we go into the designing part of online and blended learning. In our PBL group, we had a fruitful collaboration and sharing of experiences related to this topic. The Mural, which we use for brainstorming and sharing of ideas, was crammed with information, reflections, pictures etc. for this topic. For the first time, the two weeks allocated for the topic was insufficient and we had to “steal” a little time from the final topic and week in order to finalize the presentation of the topic. But what a presentation! So much design, practical tips and collaboration illustrated in one straight (utopian) train ride.

Reflecting on my own practice and possibilities for development, I found the Community of Inquiry Survey useful. One area of this survey involves the facilitation of the learning and the course, an area central to learning and always in need of development. The facilitation comprises how the teacher helps students with the topic, supporting understanding, keeping them engaged and have productive dialogues. It is about arranging and supporting learner activities and learning. Connecting to each other as students and to the teachers, engage with the content is possible in the “act of facilitation” (Vaughan, Cleveland-Innes, & Garrison, 2013).

The Specialist Nursing Programme in Psychiatric Care, has a blended learning pedagogy with the majority of activities online, but with a few face-to-face meetings each year. In addition to the half-part pace (50%), we also start the programme on 25% pace of study in the autumn of 2020. My experiences, as a head of this programme and a teacher in its courses, are that we have difficulties designing the courses and activities so that the students really connect, get to know each other, take responsibility and engage in the courses. I believe this might be even more difficult when studying part time on 25%. This is an area for improvement when starting up the programme in September this year. Fortunately I have found some tips and strategies that can be helpful for this purpose.

In order for the students to connect and engage, resources and well designed activities in the beginning of the programme is in important. As a result of being a student myself in the ONL course, I have realized that it is worthwhile to use resources and time for this purpose in the beginning, in contrary to a jump-start into learning activities directly. Therefore, I am planning to allocate the first two weeks of the programme to facilitating connection and engagement. Vaughan and colleagues (2013) suggest that the teacher should encourage and support interaction and relationships between students in the beginning with the support of meaningful activities. A successful design of such activities and interaction increases the likelihood of creating a community. I have found inspiration for the design of the autumn start of the programme in the following (not complete) list of suggested strategies given by Vaughan and colleagues (2013):

– Provide opportunities for initial introductions and ongoing social interactions
– Set agreed-upon, shared norms for operating together in the learning community
– Discuss various learning modes such as face-to-face and online learning
– Outline required activities and offer support for students concerned about role requirements
– Provide explicit directions for all course activities
– Provide activities that enable students and instructors to share experiences
– Use peer review to engage students in a cycle of practical inquiry
– Maximize virtual connection and collaboration by including synchronous discussions on various collaborative tools

I hope these strategies together with a meaningful content will improve the sense of connection and belonging in and between the students.


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

Topic 4: Design for online and blended learning