The focus of this guide is in response to this unprecedented time in history, and aims to offer a way forward for faculty as we transition courses fully online. This Online Learning and Teaching guide, which has been created through a collaborative partnership between The Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) and Library Learning Services (LLS) offers the tools, practices, and examples to support and inspire an online approach that is both relevant and relational for our learners at Sheridan.
We encourage faculty to pick and choose what resonates with them and makes the most sense for their disciplinary context and their approaches to teaching and learning.
Online learning is an educational experience that is mediated in whole or in part by web-based platforms, tools, and devices (Bates, 2016). In fact, much of the learning that we do every day is moderated through technology (i.e. our use of smart phones, tablets, laptops and computers to work, to access information for work or for interest and to communicate with others or to occupy our time during leisure periods). We are constantly learning from online sources and we are all being shaped by online learning experiences (whether we realize it or not).
Although we have all experienced online learning, we may not have thought about how to create those learning experiences, and we may not have had great experiences of online learning. Many if not most of us as Sheridan faculty, however, have considered and experienced first-hand what learning looks like and feels like in a classroom. Building from these classroom practices and pedagogies, we've highlighted Learner-Centered Principles for Higher Education (Kenny, 2013) as the organizing framework for this guide since these principles have broad applicability to all teaching and learning contexts and milieus (including classroom, hybrid, and online). These Learner-Centered Principles for Teaching are:
Take a moment and think about who your learners are, and what some of the unique challenges they might be facing during this unprecedented global phenomenon:
While it might feel like it is the ideal choice to connect with your learners in a synchronous way (like you do during your face-to-face class time), asynchronous learning (learning that allows learners to do the learning at their own pace and at their convenience) may provide learners with more flexibility, the kind of flexibility that allows them to manage competing demands on their time.
Center for Teaching Excellence at University of Waterloo explained some advantages and disadvantages to consider when choosing synchronous vs. asynchronous design and delivery.
Online learning is often misunderstood as a set of practices enacted within the confines of a learning management system or other platform. In fact, online learning (and teaching) is as much a matter of critical attention to building relationships, and questioning and creating practice as traditional classroom pedagogy.
A Learning Outcome (LO) is a statement that outlines what learners are expected to know, do, and value by the end of a learning experience. More specifically, the learning outcome statements in your course address intended or desired results, namely the KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS, and VALUES that learners might acquire and/or enhance as a result of participating in a unit of instruction (lesson, module, unit, course, program, etc.).
A learning outcome can be deconstructed into the following parts as the diagram showed on the left.
Learning outcomes focus on both the application and integration of knowledge, skills, and values acquired in a particular unit of instruction (e.g. activity, module, course, program, etc.), and emerge from a process of reflection on the essential contents of a learning experience. Learning outcomes should be clear, specific, actionable, and measurable.
|Vague outcome||More precise outcome|
By the end of this learning experience, students will be able to increase their organization, writing, and presentation skills.
By the end of this learning experience, students will know what to do in a crisis when they are studying abroad
By the end of this learning experience, students will be able to organize the outline of a research paper in their discipline.
By the end of this learning experience, students will be able to apply Sheridan’s policies and procedures for safety abroad in different situational case studies.
Below is a table based on Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy that lists learning verbs that you might find in your Learning Outcome (LO) statements. These verbs are intentionally used to indicate different levels of learning and are meant to be helpful to you as you think about appropriate alignment of your LOs with both activities and assessments in your online courses.
|Level||Level Definition and Attributes||Action Verbs|
|Level One: Remember||Learners are able to exhibit memory of previously learned materials by recalling facts, terms, basic concepts and answers.||arrange, define, describe, duplicate, identify, label, list, match, memorize, name, order, outline, recognize, relate, recall, repeat, reproduce, select, state|
|Level Two: Comprehension||Learners are able to demonstrate understanding of facts and ideas by interpreting, exemplifying, classifying, summarizing, inferring, comparing and explaining main ideas.||classify, convert, defend, discuss, distinguish, estimate, explain, express, extend, generalize, give example(s), identify, indicate, infer, locate, paraphrase, predict, recognize, rewrite, report, restate, review, select, summarize, translate|
|Level Three: Apply||Learners are able to solve problems in new situations by applying acquired knowledge, facts, techniques, and rules in a different way.||apply, change, choose, compute, demonstrate, discover, dramatize, employ, illustrate, interpret, manipulate, modify, operate, practice, predict, prepare, produce, relate schedule, show, sketch, solve, use write|
|Level Four: Analyze||Learners are able to examine and break information into parts by identifying motives, causes and relationships. They can make inferences and find evidence to support generalization.||analyze, appraise, breakdown, calculate, categorize, classify, compare, contrast, criticize, derive, diagram, differentiate, discriminate, distinguish, examine, experiment, identify, illustrate, infer, interpret, model, outline, point out, question, relate, select, separate, subdivide, test|
|Level Five: Evaluate||Learners are able to present and defend opinions by making judgement about information, validity of ideas, or quality of work based on a set of criteria. They can justify a decision or course of action.||arrange, assemble, categorize, collect, combine, comply, compose, construct, create, design, develop, devise, explain, formulate, generate, plan, prepare, propose, rearrange, reconstruct, relate, reorganize, revise, rewrite, set up, summarize, synthesize, tell, write|
|Level Six: Create||Learners are able to compile, generate or view information, ideas or products together in a different way by combining in a new pattern or by proposing alternative solutions.||appraise, argue, assess, attach, choose, compare, conclude, contrast, defend, describe, discriminate, estimate, evaluate, explain, judge, justify, interpret, relate, predict, rate, select, summarize, support, value|
When designing an online learning experience, it is considered a good practice to begin with the end in mind. Starting with your Course Level Learning Outcomes (LOs), ask yourself:
What are the course learning outcomes? How many outcomes are learners expected to achieve in this course? What level of learning is expected with each learning outcome? What are learners expected to know, do, and value by the end of the online learning experience?
By using backward design, and understanding our LOs, we can identify and design the intended learning journey in the online environment.
Aligning the learning outcomes from the learning experience that you are creating with assessment strategies will give you the opportunity to check that your learners are accomplishing the learning outcomes.
|Learning Outcomes||Assessment Strategies|
|Identify...||Post photographs, complete a quiz|
|Describe...||Describe those photographs|
|Analyze...||Relate a theory to a real world scenario|
|Create...||Build a model|
|Synthesize...||Write a photo essay, assign meaning to the photographs|
Using a variety of assessment techniques throughout the online learning experience will provide you with the best picture of what your students are actually learning. While there is no rule about what works best, and different subject matters call for different types of assessments, the following are some generalized methods that work well in an online environment (adapted from Palloff and Pratt, 2010).
Aligning the learning activities from the learning experience that you are creating with assessment strategies will give you the opportunity to successfully prepare learners to achieve the LOs through their completion of assignments and final evaluations.
|Learning Outcomes||Instructional Strategies|
|Identify...||Through labelling different types of photos shared in a collaborative document|
|Describe...||By characterizing photos in writing, video, or audio clips as part of a virtual art gallery|
|Analyze...||Different theoretical perspectives in a discussion forum|
|Create...||A musical composition using notation software|
|Synthesize...||An answer to an open-ended problem using a data set provided|
Kenny, N. (2013, December 7). Learner-centred principles for teaching in higher education [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://natashakenny.wordpress.com/2013/12/07/learner-centred-principles-for-teaching-in-higher-education/
Palloff, R., & Pratt, K. (2010). Assessing the online learner resources and strategies for faculty. Continuing to Engage the Online Learner, Rita-Marie Conrad, J. Ana Donaldson Seawell, Jeanne. Firth, Karen. Colvin, Martha. Online Assessment Strategies A Primer. Journal of Online Teaching and Learning 6(1).