12–25 November

For this topic, we shift our focus from participation in a learning environment to how to support and design for learning. Over this fortnight, you will have the opportunity to explore different frameworks/models and current trends in learning design and how they can be applied in online and blended learning settings. Supporting student learning by scaffolding and facilitation is a key area in the provision of a ‘quality’ educational experience in formal settings. Successful student support has a marked and positive impact on retention, progression, completion rates and overall student satisfaction – this can be even more so for students studying online. You will be encouraged to reflect on your own experience of what constitutes good design as well as consider your how you can design and support flexible, blended and online learning in your own teaching practice.

Activities for all learners

Discuss  in the ONL G+ Community (and/or in your PBL group)
Share your personal experience regarding different aspects of designing learning environments. Discuss and explore together effective support and facilitation strategies that do or could work in your professional context.

Join the webinar with Martha Cleveland-Innes  November 14, 16.00-17.00 (CET). During this webinar Martha will elaborate on how important design for online and blended learning is for higher education change and present the framework Community of Inquiry.
See the event page!

During previous topics  we have encouraged you to try out twitter as a tool for collaborative and networked learning.  If you haven’t yet tried out Twitter you might want to give it a try during this topic. Have a look at Alastairs video What is Twitter? and make a tweet during the week.

We hope that you also will  join this topic’s Tweetchat on November 21, 19.00-20.00 (CET)! A Tweetchat or Twitter chat is  a synchronous discussion run through Twitter – good fun and worth trying. For guidance how you participate, see the event page.

Learning blog – reflection:
Towards the end of the topic, finalise and share your reflections in your blog and have a look around how others have captured their stories. Suggested themes for reflection in your learning blog:

  • Reflect on your current practice and reason about possibilities for development of online and blended learning designs.
  • Reflect on how you can provide support, facilitation and scaffolding for students in online and blended learning environments.
  • Are there opportunities for further development in this area, that you have identified as a result of your own experience as a learner in the ONL course and of your engagement in this topic?

Feedback on blogs
One essential aspect in designing and supporting learning is to regard the importance of feedback. We would therefore like to encourage you view and comment on other participants blogs – remember how motivating constructive feedback can be!

PBL group work

For this topic you will have two scenarios to choose between to use for your PBL group inquiry.
For guidance on PBL group work including the FISh design please see Learning activities.

“I am part of a team that runs a four week course in how to be an online tutor. This course is designed to give our tutors the theory, research and practical experience of being both an online tutor and a student, to help them support their own distance learners. However, one of the questions we always get asked is how do you keep online learners actively engaged? We ask it of ourselves frequently because of the decreasing enthusiasm of our participants as the course goes on, and external pressures impact on their time. So we find this a real challenge, how to support and facilitate engagement and activity as well as systematic reflection throughout a whole course!”

“I have recently attended a course on online learning and it has been quite exciting and an eye opener regarding possibilities as well as challenges. So how can I now put this into play in the activities and contexts that I am involved in, both my teaching and maybe also my leisure activities where I also work with groups and learning. In all the courses I teach we strive for constructive alignment, I wonder how a more online and blended approach would fit with this? To convince our heads of department, I think I must find good arguments and maybe try to illustrate in a visual way what a good design could look like. I wonder which activity, module or course I should choose? Maybe I should involve some of the colleagues in this?”

Readings and resources


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

City University London. (2016). Online Facilitation Techniques. Web resource.

van Ameijde, J., Weller, M. and Cross, S. (2018). Learning Design for Student Retention. Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice, Vol 6 | Issue 2 | pp.41-50.  PDF 

Further optional readings and resources

Vaughan, N. D., Cleveland-Innes, M., & Garrison, D. R. (2013). Teaching in blended learning environments: Creating and sustaining communities of inquiry. Edmonton: AU Press.
— Chapter 1 “The Community of Inquiry Conceptual framework”.  PDF
— The whole book as  PDF

Conole, G. (2015). The 7Cs of Learning Design. Manuscript.  PDF



By the end of this topic, you will have had the opportunity to

  • discuss pedagogical approaches;  possibilities and challenges in designing online learning environments
  • apply models for design and facilitation of online and blended learning.
  • reflect on how to design for learning and support learners in your own practice.


webinar Webinar – 14 November 16.00–17.00 (CET) See the event page!

twitter Tweetchat – 21 November 19.00–20.00 (CET) See the event page!
Read the full tweetchat for topic 4 on Wakelet


During this topic I have:

  • Attended at least two of the PBL group online meetings
  • Contributed actively to the group work on the scenario
  • Contributed actively to the group discussion in Google+
  • Commented on some colleagues’ blog posts
  • Written my reflective blog post on topic 4
  • Studied the recommended resources for this topic.