24 April – 7 May 2023

For this topic, we shift our focus from participation in a learning environment to the perspective of the educator in the design for learning. Over this fortnight, you will have the opportunity to explore current practices in Learning Design including assessment, that have been informed by research to create engaging blended and online learning experiences for your students. Understanding how to design learning for student retention, active learning, collaboration, inclusivity, sustainability; and how to translate this into pedagogical action are some points to be be considered.

Enhancing community-building and promoting student engagement and ownership in learning becomes essential for blended and online learning. Learning design thus needs to be informed by a set of principles that considers approaches that focus on student engagement like Active Learning, Community of Inquiry, PBL, Collaborative Learning and Networked Learning.

You will be encouraged to reflect on your own experience of what constitutes good learning design and assessment, as well as consider how you can design and support flexible, active, networked and community-based learning by using new technologies in your own teaching practice.

Activities for all learners


For this topic we are very happy to have Dr. Robin Kay with us for a webinar on Tuesday 25 April 14:00-15:00 (CEST). Based on his long experience in online and blended learning, he will discuss different aspects of learning design and how to thrive as an educator in online teaching and learning (view the event page)

Individual reflection
Towards the end of the topic, finalise and share your reflections in your individual reflection space and have a look around how others have captured their stories. Suggested themes for individual reflection:

  • 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. You can view the survey here).
  • Reflect on how you can provide support, facilitation and scaffolding for students in online and blended learning environments, as well as how you can use new technologies for learning and assessment.
  • 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 individual reflections
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 individual reflections – remember how motivating constructive feedback can be!

PBL group work

For guidance on PBL group work including the FISh design please see Learning activities.


“ During the Covid-19 pandemic, we were forced to work online with the implementation of emergency remote teaching and learning. Since then, the implementation of technology in education has seen a marked increase; and the proliferation of new tools and technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence, are evolving into agents of transformational change in the design of learning and assessment in higher education. I have seen several frameworks and models exist to inform our learning design practice, including how to integrate the usage of new technologies. I believe we need to stay focused on pedagogical aspects and draw on current best practice and review how we design blended and online learning to promote active learning and critical thought in our students. A challenge I have is to combine synchronous and asynchronous activities that encourage learners’ engagement and learning processes; and to change the nature and design of assessment accordingly!”


Readings and resources


Fiock, H. (2020). Designing a Community of Inquiry in Online Courses. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 21(1), 135-153.y

Ouyang, F. & Jiao, P. (2021). Artificial intelligence in education: The three paradigms. Computers and Education: Artificial Intelligence, 2, 1-6.

Weller, M., van Ameijde, J. & Cross, S. (2018). Learning Design for Student Retention. Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice, 6(2)

Further optional readings and resources

ABC Learning Design – homepage 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.

Cavanagh, T. (et.al.) (2020). Constructing a Design Framework and Pedagogical Approach for Adaptive Learning in Higher Education: A Practitioner’s Perspective. International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 21(1), 173-196.

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

Conrad, D. & Openo, J. (2018). Assessment Strategies for Online Learning. Engagement and Authenticity. Edmonton: AU Press. (book for download or read online)

Kay, R., H. & Hunter, W. J. (Eds.). (2022). Thriving online: A guide for busy educators. Ontario TechUniversity

Miao, F., Holmes, W., Huang, R. & Hui Zhang, H. (2021). AI and Education: Guidance for policy-makers. Paris: UNESCO.

Mintz, Steven (2021). How to Design a Course for Maximum Student Engagement: Seven Innovative Approaches. Webinar presentation (60 min) Recording / Presentation slides

Open University – Reflection and Resources from the Open University Learning Design Team – Webpage with Resources

Salmon, G (2013) The Five Stage Model. Homepage 

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) – homepage and guidelines

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”. / Download the whole book.



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
Tuesday 25 April 14:00-15:00 (CEST)
with Robin Kay from  the Faculty of Education at Ontario Tech University, Oshawa, Canada.



During this topic I have:

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