Teacher candidates at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Education will be doing all of their course work online this fall. Their experiences will give them new opportunities to consider not just what it means to learn in online environments, but also how to teach online. To support their thinking and learning over time this year (and beyond), my colleague Dr. Hugh Kellam and I developed an open educational resource that includes six modules focused on what we think are the most important ideas to consider when designing online learning activities and environments for students. The course is freely available at https://onlineteaching.ca/ and although we continue to edit and integrate video content, we felt it was important to announce the course this week because, with back-to-school just a few weeks away, we know that school leaders and teachers are beginning to plan for online instruction this fall. Even though our intended audience is pre-service teaching colleagues, we hope that in-service teaching colleagues will also find something of value in the work.
The course architecture is linear and easy to navigate. Modules follow a consistent, predictable organizational structure. We begin each module with an overview of learning outcomes, and offer estimated times to complete the reading, reflection and practice activities. In every module, we provide lists of the references used to inform our work. These references lists can be used by anyone looking to learn more about the research on online teaching and learning, or about methods of instruction that support student learning in any context — face-to-face or online.
Here are the titles of the modules in the course:
- Teaching Online: Relationships are Everything
- Equity and Accessibility: The Foundations for Good Online Course Design
- Planning, Pedagogies and Learning Management Systems: The Nuts and Bolts of Online Teaching
- Assessment and Evaluation in Online Courses
- Establishing and Modelling Norms in Online Courses
- Meeting Standards of Practice in an Online Practicum
We are grateful to many colleagues with specialized expertise in online teaching and learning in Canada and the US who provided very valuable recommendations for improvement. Thanks to Gladys Chin, Dr. Leigh Graves Wolf, Dr. Ian O’Byrne, Dr. Diane Watt, Dr. John Richardson, Heather Swail, Paul McGuire and Tracy Crowe for their generous insights. The course is better because of your feedback. Errors, omissions and oversights, though, are entirely the responsibility of the authors. Hugh and I continue to work on this, but hope that at a time of incredible uncertainty in education, this work can offer teachers a reliable information source to inform their pedagogical decision making.
Although the course is self-paced, we invite conversation about the course to take place on Twitter using the hashtag #OTL4K12 (online teaching & learning for Kindergarten-Grade12).