Design

Topic Progress:

To begin, read chapter 2 of Teaching in Blended Learning Environments1.

If we hope to make significant gains in the quality of the educational experience, which must be the goal as the educational needs of society are changing so radically,then we must focus on fundamental redesign strategies. 2

The online instructor’s job begins well before class starts and is arguably more difficult than the task of designing face-to-face learning experiences given the characteristics of online environments. According to Garrison3, there is a significant need for online instructors, when they are designing activities, to in fact redesign activities to suit an online environment. For example, the relatively basic task of welcoming students and providing guidance on interacting with the course must be considered and written down in detail prior to the beginning of class. Furthermore, since students will not often be online at the same time as each other or the instructor, questions and trouble spots must be anticipated and addressed before they come up. Not only is the instructor not present to answer questions, but even minor difficulties and glitches can stop a student and prevent them from engaging further.

It is the design and organization of the learning environment that provide the structure for the course. Garrison draws a distinction between design and organization, arguing that design refers to those activities undertaken prior to the course and organization referring to the structure and scaffolding provided during the course as questions come up and need to be addressed.

Furthermore, since the philosophical foundation of online learning is that of constructivism, it is necessary to allow some flexibility in the design process which, in turn, allows for students to have some influence over the course and how it is approached. This requires that the design of the course be undertaken with the delivery of the course in mind.

Footnotes

  1. Vaughan, N., Cleveland-Innes, M., & Garrison, D. (2013). Teaching in blended learning environments: Creating and sustaining communities of inquiry. Athabasca: AU Press. Retrieved from http://www.aupress.ca/index.php/books/120229
  2. Vaughan, N., Cleveland-Innes, M., & Garrison, D. (2013). Teaching in blended learning environments: Creating and sustaining communities of inquiry. Athabasca: AU Press. Retrieved from http://www.aupress.ca/index.php/books/120229
  3. Garrison, D. R. (2011). E-learning in the 21st century: A framework for research and practice (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge.