The Guide to Online Teaching

What is Online Learning?

Welcome to this epublication about effective practices for online learning design. This publication is designed to provide simple-to-use techniques that improve teaching and learning experiences in online and blended learning environments.

Before we present these strategies; however, it is essential to have a brief discussion about the definition of online learning. For many, online learning is the delivery of entire courses or programs through the use of the Internet. While this certainly is a form, online learning is a much broader practice that involves opening access to high quality and affordable educational opportunities.

For the purposes of this publication, we define online learning simply as technology supported learning. This definition is inclusive of courses and programs delivered using the Internet, but also includes learning experiences that leverage technology not only as a delivery channel, but as an augmentation to the learning experience such as seen when technology is incorporated in classroom or experiential learning opportunities.

 

The Learning Innovation Process

The process of innovation specifically related to learning can present rather unique and challenging situations for educators. One of the more important aspects of this is knowing where and how to start implementing innovations for courses or programs. For some, this process is motivated by developing ways of enhancing efficiency in the learning process. For others, the goal of effectiveness may be a primary driver.

Before investing considerable time in developing and changing course design or teaching strategies, it is important to develop a clear vision and plan. This not only helps save time, but also provides measurable outcomes to evaluate the success of innovation initiatives. A clear vision for a course or program cannot be underestimated in the innovation.

The process of innovating learning experiences is, at a high level, about knowing the learners, understanding the nature of existing learning experiences, creating a vision, and implementing learning prototypes and measuring effectiveness (Institute for Learning Environment Design, 2017). This innovation process occurs as a cycle and provides a roadmap for how educators can foster learning experiences that make a difference.

Goals for This eBook

This ebook is design to be an “idea book”. There are many excellent publications that address the background, theories, and practice of online and blended learning. This ebook instead provides a marketplace of ideas for innovative and improved courses within particular disciplines using evidence-based practices.

The methods and approaches described are developed by online and blended learning experts and communicated to allow other educators to benefit from their experiences and knowledge.

How to Use This Book

This book is intended to be used as a reference and guide when designing and redesigning online and blended courses and programs. A brief section on general course design principles is provided to present an overall perspective on the process of course design and redesign. References are included for individuals who wish to explore these concepts in more detail.

The follow sections are focused on specific course design strategies for specific disciplines. These strategies are developed and communicated using a visual modeling method called Learning Environment Modeling™ (LEM™). This approach allows ideas about the design of courses to be communicated in a simple, visual manner.  

The final sections of the publication address general approaches to teaching and facilitation, as well as considerations for using learning technologies. References are provided to allow those individuals who are interested in exploring these approaches and technologies to guide their learning process.

Guiding Philosophy

The aim of this publication is to empower and equip educators to create the most successful learning experiences possible for their students. As a guiding philosophy for this publication, great care was given to merging evidence-based research with practice, real-world insights, and best thinking on how to design and deliver successful online learning experiences.

The first edition of this publication was developed by focusing on two of the most ubiquitous subjects taught in higher education: English and Biology (Science). The intent is to grow the publication over time to include other subjects and highlight general practices that have value across disciplines.

We invite future contributors and collaborators to help shape the future of this publication. If you are interested in contributing to future versions of this publication, please contact Bucky Dodd at bdodd1@uco.edu.