Topic 4 – Design for online and blended learning

If topic 3 was about solving a puzzle together with others then topic 4 was about solving a crossword. Can you recognize that sensational feeling when you fill in the last blank squares with letters? For me one of those words was reading about the Five Stage Model by Gilly Salmon. It was like an epiphany – but not so much for presenting new ways of doing things. Rather the opposite – I could identify my working methods with those in her model which of course felt reassuring.


What I like about the model is its simplicity and the fact that it looks at course design from two angles; the teacher/developer view and the student/expected outcome view. Working as an ed tech I often find myself in the middle between these two groups. If consulted in time I know that I, in dialog with the teacher, can affect the course design. The Five Stage Model offers arguments when discussing the importance of course design with both groups.

In our PBL group we talked about the changing role of the teacher; from the traditional role as knowledge bearer to becoming a facilitator. The new role is about helping the students to understand and apply the knowledge rather than lecturing to them. This is truly the key to empowering the students so that they can take responsibility for their own learning. The complexity of it is also something that Vaughan, Cleveland-Innes & Garrison discuss in depth in their presentation of the teaching presence when investigating the Community of Inquiry framework. I especially like how they stress the word teaching and not teacher presence. Teaching in this sense is extended not only to include the educators but also to the students themselves.

Student-centered learning requires commitment and interest in the individual learners especially when looking at course design. Salmon´s models makes it easier to understand what is needed from the facilitator and what to expect from the students after choosing a certain tool, activity or assignment. One of our group members in PBL7 wrote an excellent blog post in which she linked the model to PBL.

There are a lot of things to take into account when working with course design. The foundation always have to be the course syllabus and more precise the learning objectives. What are the students supposed to have learnt when leaving the course and how can we work together with them during the course so that they can meet the objectives. It is the HOW that will define the learning process when looking at the design issues. If we want the students to reflect on their learning and abilities and to learn from each other we need to create incentives for them to do so.  We need to give them tools to use and a framework to act within. That is what course design is for me.

By participating in ONL171 I felt like I took part in a real life experiment, a sort of test environment. I experienced the course as a student while reading and learning about the topic as an educator. This offered me an exceptional opportunity to reflect on learning in two different ways and I value this experience highly.


Salmon, Gilly (2013) The Five Stage Model.

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 “Conceptual framework”.


4 thoughts on “Topic 4 – Design for online and blended learning

  1. It is nice to see how you feel as if your prior ways of working are aligned with plenty of new ideas and opportunities. I guess it is the way learning is to take place; building on what you know by questioning it, but not substituting it without a proper critique of what is to come instead. You are knitting this together nicely I must say.


  2. Thank you for sharing your insights. I agree that its important to place yourself in the position of a student before you assume the role of an educator. In this way, you are better able to design a learning experience that is authentic, relevant and engaging.


  3. Thanks for bringing up the student-centered learning perspective within this topic. I think it is important that
    – the student him/herself needs to be part of shaping meaningful and challenging studies.
    – academic staff have the students’ learning in focus and at the same time the expertise is valued.
    – the student is self-directed in his or her learning.
    – there is a tutoring approach in supporting the students in their learning processes.
    – the learning atmosphere is characterized by respect and dialogue, and the teachers and the students see each other as becoming colleagues.

    However, being a teacher in Higher education is challenging. As a teacher you have many different ”roles” – designer, facilitator, coach, mentor, supervisor/expert, researcher and partnership creator. I think it is important to be aware of the these dirrents rolen and flexibly use this repertoire in order to support and enhance students’ active learning.



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