27 April – 10 May

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 the Community of Inquiry framework to learn about important pedagogical aspects to be considered when creating good blended and online learning environments.
Supporting student learning by scaffolding and facilitation is a key area in the provision of a ‘quality’ educational experience. 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 learning design as well as consider how you can design and support flexible, networked and community-based learning in your own teaching practice.

Activities for all learners

Padlet with introduction videos
As a start for the topic you can watch the two introductory videos from Marti Cleveland-Innes on the Community of Inquiry framework and on Emotion and learning. You can find links to the videos on this Padlet and under topic 4 resources below. After you have watched the videos please use the Padlet to add your comments, reflections and questions as preparation for the webinar. 

On Wednesday 6 May 16:00-17:00 (CEST) there will be a “flipped” and interactive webinar with Dr. Marti Cleveland-Innes. During this webinar you will together with Marti be able to discuss Community of Inquiry (CoI) including emotional presence as a framework for designing flexible, networked and community-based learning. Further information about preparation for the webinar will be published on 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. You may want to use the “Community of Inquiry Educator Survey” as a tool for reflection on your own teaching practice.
  • 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 guidance on PBL group work including the FISh design please see Learning activities.


“I have recently attended a course in online learning and it has offered many new insights regarding transformative opportunities for my own teaching. So how can I now put this into play in the activities and contexts of my own teaching while simultaneously addressing some of the challenges associated with online learning? I am keen to design my own online or blended learning course that promotes student engagement, community, collaborative learning and enables me to practice the principles of good facilitation. To convince our heads of department, I think I must formulate a convincing argument and maybe try to illustrate in a visual way what a good online or blended learning 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


Cleveland-Innes, M. (2019). The Community of Inquiry – What is it really about? Introductory video on the Padlet

Cleveland-Innes, M. (2019). Emotion and learning –  emotional presence in the Community of Inquiry framework (CoI)? Introductory video on the Padlet

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. Chapter 1 “The Community of Inquiry Conceptual framework”.

Further optional readings and resources

Boelens, R., De Wever, B., & Voet, M. (2017). Four key challenges to the design of blended learning: A systematic literature review. Educational Research Review, 22, 1-18.

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

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

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

The Community of Inquiry website

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.




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.




webinarWebinarWednesday 6 May 16.00–17.00 (CEST) See the event page!



During this topic I have:

  • Contributed actively to the group work on the scenario
  • Commented on some colleagues’ blog posts
  • Written my reflective blog post on topic 4
  • Studied the recommended resources for this topic.