One of the teacher’s primary roles is to be a designer of learning modules. All teachers plan their teaching, from single activities in everyday lesson plans to overarching course designs. The task of designing complex learning modules which encompass online, hybrid and collaborative learning should arguably be assigned to teacher teams rather than single teachers, however, because it is such a momentous task. Whether carried out by lone teachers or teacher teams, what wholesome ingredients can we identify as conducive to online and blended learning?

The greatest benefit of online and blended learning is arguably the possibility of accommodating diverse types of students and their particular circumstances. The recent surge in online and blended learning brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, has in my experience shown that students have very different preferences regarding how they want to work and learn. Well, people are different, so this should come as no surprise. But what assumptions do teachers make about what their students want when it comes to online learning? According to Anderson (2008), there are learners who want online learning encounters to resemble in-person ones, with all that entails in terms of presence and synchronicity, while there are also those who expect online learning to allow them to work at their own pace whenever it suits them. This division suggests a need for different models of online learning – especially in terms of pace and synchronicity – and this has also been the direction that online learning has taken, according to Anderson.

Online teaching is no different than contact teaching in the sense that student needs and learning goals should act as guiding principles in the design of learning modules. But as online learning offers new possibilities and blended learning may offer the best of both worlds, it is worth considering how learning activities and forms of participation can be distributed and chosen to best cater to different types of students and help them achieve the learning goals in the best way possible. More than ever, I believe that teachers need to decide when class attendance is important and identify what is necessary to realise it. Whether an activity or assignment is to be carried out synchronously or asynchronously, should also be a matter of purpose. Will the learning experience be enriched if the students engage in the activity together, in real time, or is it an activity that is actually easier or more relevant to do individually? Does it matter when the activity takes place? Is it linked to other elements of the module and how does it tie in with the students’ workload? Overall, employing the students’ perspective in the design process is very advisable. Is their workload manageable and evenly distributed? Are the activities and assignments meaningful and appropriate in relation to the learning goals? Are there opportunities to get to know fellow learners and learn and explore together? Is there also room for individual reflection?

On a last note, it is time to bring up technology and digital skills. Online learning is of course characterised by the fact that it takes place online. In order to counteract possible insecurity and even non-completion, it is a good idea to assess and communicate what level of digitals skills are needed, which tools will be used, and what technological readiness is required, but also what kind of support is available.


Anderson, T. (2008). Teaching in an online learning context. In The theory and practice of online learning (pp. 343-395). Athabasca university press. [Accessed 10-05-2022]

Topic 4: Design for online and blended learning