In my reflection for designing an online course, I have decided to look at the ONL course as a starting point.

The most important aspect of an online blended course is the introduction. As an individual deciding to complete a course online with a group of strangers from across the world and a facilitator one has never met is scary. Throw in technological tools, one week of co-leading and working with a partner…. that is anxiety😊

However, with the ONL we had an introductory week which provided opportunities to discuss expectations, form group identity and socialise, this proved to be a positive in setting the tone for upcoming activities.

Structure is key to a good design. The course must be well mapped out and should allow for time to catch up. The structure and additional resources in the ONL course allowed enough time to acclimatise to this new way of working. The break after topic 2 was an excellent idea in that you find your feet, you are allowed time to catch up and reflect and then you start again.

Blended learning using an online platform is a journey. The presence of a facilitator and co-facilitator in the ONL created a harmonious learning environment that felt safe and constructive thereby stimulating thinking and participation.

However, this is just the tip of the iceberg in designing an online/blended course. Professor Gilly Salmon illustrates a five-stage model in her blog. This model looks at the different stages that one would progress through to have an enjoyable experience of the online/blended course:

  • There must be access and motivation – internet, and your desire to succeed
  • Online socialisation – as we did in the ONL with our zoom sessions and co-leading using news tools.
  • Information exchange – worked well in the zoom session and the FISH document.
  • Knowledge construction – in our groups we are presented with a scenario and then we create new knowledge based on our experiences, readings and ideas.
  • Development – as we near the end of this ONL course, I sit back and reflect on the new frame of reference that I have, the new tools I now use and the new professional connections I have made, it is development of oneself.

I therefore agree with this 5-stage model and I believe it is imperative to understand this model if one were to design a successful blended/online course.

In line with the 5-stage model, we also studied the Community of Inquiry model put forth by  Cleveland-Innes,  that focuses on three presences

  • The cognitive presence
  • The social presence
  • The teaching presence

These three presences focus on the pedagogy and ensures there is ample opportunity for active engagement, assessment as well as learning in a safe and constructive environment.

Should I design an online/blended learning course I will be sure to design it using the framework above.

Check out some cool examples of blended learning approaches.


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

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

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

Topic 4: Design for online and blended learning