Topic 4: Design for online and blended learning


For this topic, pinning down the most suitable theoretical framework proved rather a challenge for our PBL group initially, but then after sharing our views on this topic, our group really got to the heart of identifying what counts in formulating a learning activity. We considered the 5-stage model (Salmon, 2013) which seemed to suggest that the last stage of the model should be looked at first, to see what exactly the students are supposed to have learnt by the end of the course. We aligned our views and came up with an innovative product to share with our fellow ONL’ers.

To start designing a course, the facilitator needs to understand what the instructor want to accomplish from the course design, what the needs of those students might be, and what the learners need to learn. This can be done by interviewing different stakeholders in the process.

We learnt that the most important aspects of a good online or blended course design are (i) giving clear instructions on the structure of the course from the outset, (ii) keeping the students motivated by engaging with them on a regular basis and (iii) giving guidance where needed. I realised that I can assist in achieving this with my students by setting a friendly, explorative tone at the start of an online course, where the students feel comfortable to learn from one another in a meaningful manner. This could also be achieved by providing a communication strategy, as one of my colleagues on PBL5 Daniel suggested in our group discussions.

So as to avoid being overwhelmed with information, I see that some guidance on how to use your time effectively on the course, should be provided to the students. This could be done by having a link to a “How to” guide, to orientate students on expectations for the course.

We were tasked with designing an appropriate online learning activity to illustrate how best we could scaffold the students’ learning and align this to the outcomes. After some deliberation we elected to use only some of the stages of the ADDIE model (ADDIE Model Instructional Strategies, 2011) This model represents the generic components of a learning/instructional design process involving (i) analysis, (ii) design, (iii) development, (iv) implementation and (v) evaluation. As we only needed to design one learning activity contained within a course, our group selected 3 of the 5 stages of the ADDIE model, to illustrate how student learning can be scaffolded, namely, (i) analysis, (ii) design and (v) evaluation.

The topic we chose to present to the wider ONL group was how to motivate students to becoming more active online learners. I led some of the group chats for this topic with my colleagues Janus. We compiled a learner analysis form, inviting participation from our target group, the ONL students. A mindmap was also created to understand the characteristics of this specific group of students.

I made a contribution as a member of this target group on the padlet we created for our learning activity. Students were invited to read selected articles and give feedback of their understanding of what it means to engage in online active learning.  Instructions to participate were made to be clear and concise. The Jigsaw technique was identified as the most practical activity for students to give their feedback on active learning, as discerned from the articles they read. I contributed to our group presentation on Sway by drafting the Evaluation section, presenting our results from the contributions made by participants of the learning activity on padlet, and how we did the evaluation using the ADDIE model. I realised the importance of assessing the clarity, impact and feasibility of the learning activity. I also critiqued the ADDIE model, noting the strengths and weaknesses of the learning activity, what we could improve on in the formative evaluation process, in the design and implementation of the learning activity. The most important the evaluation process helped us determine that the time we allocated to invite student participation on the padlet was not sufficient and this is something we could improve on in the next instructional design.

My take-aways from this topic, are that I need to review whether students are able to internalise and apply the skills and knowledge learnt, into life-long changes in behaviour. Furthermore I would like to introduce more online tools into my teaching such as hosting webinars to encourage students to be more collaborative and learn from one another and to encourage more online discussions to keep the students engaged and active in their study of the law.


Biggs, J.B. (1996) Enhancing teaching through constructive alignment, Higher Education, 32: 1–18.

 Bates, T (2016). The 10 Fundamentals of Teaching Online for Faculty and Instructors. learning






6 thoughts on “Topic 4: Design for online and blended learning

  1. I believe that you are so right about the importance of checking that students have internalised their learning and are able to apply it to different contexts. To me this demonstrates deep learning that makes a real difference, rather than shallow learning merely to pass an assessment. It is when we can encourage deep learning that we can really begin to make a difference in the lives of learners. What a powerful reflection – thank you!


  2. I like your post. Think it was a good idea with the interviews, because you´ll have to know the expectations before you start. I also like the idea of always try to engage the students to be more motivated and continue find out what motivates them.


  3. “more online discussions”
    Have you thought about in which form? The experiences I had in ONL162 has led me to feel that neither large group discussions using Adobe Connect (audio or chat) nor Twitter are very suitable platforms for constructive online discussions. There is too much noise and too little reflection in these real-time large-group discussions. Smaller groups or non-synchronous discussion forums seem to work much better for fruitful exchanges. I personally really appreciated blogging myself and reading the blogs of peers, but it does seem that this spurs little discussion – the comments are mostly of the cheering type “What a great blog!” and even if constructive comments are provided this seldom leads to longer discussions. My conclusion this far is that dedicated discussion forums are still the best we have, since this channels all users/learners to the same topics and posts.


    1. I agree that discussion forums seem the most practical for encouraging engagement on a topic. From our experience on ONL, Adobe Connect did present some technical challenges owing perhaps to the number of participants online at once. I will have to try a few alternatives and see what works best in our South African context. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this important issue.


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