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Macquarie University

Online education: The foundations of online teaching

Macquarie University via Coursera


In a world that’s quickly becoming dominated by mobile technology, flexible working opportunities and a post-pandemic economy, online learning is here to stay. This course introduces you to the basics of reimagining, redesigning and optimising face-to-face offerings for the online environment so that learners feel connected, engaged and motivated to learn. Educators from around the world who are facing these issues in schools, universities and the vocational education sector are finding they need to adapt by upskilling to meet these changing times. This course will introduce you to the key foundational concepts required for teaching online and will explore how technology has fundamentally changed the way education can be delivered and consumed by learners. The course will cover questions such as: What is online learning and how does it differ from learning in traditional classroom settings? Do the needs of online learners differ from their face-to-face counterparts? How can I design online learning so that it reflects and meets the needs of my learners? Which tools and resources are readily available and easy to master for facilitating engaging and interactive online learning? These questions and many more will be answered in this course, which is designed for teachers and educators who are new to online learning, or those who are preparing to adapt existing learning resources to an online learning environment. Learning outcomes By the end of this course, you’ll: 1. Demonstrate an understanding of the trajectory of online learning, from a historical perspective to contemporary experience and future possibilities 2. Explain how the needs of learners in blended and fully online learning environments differ from traditional face-to-face learning environments 3. Select and use a range of techniques, tools and resources to improve the digital learning skills of learner


  • The evolution of online course design
    • Welcome to Week 1! This week we will discuss and review the evolution of online course design. Advancements in technology have fundamentally changed the way learners can study. Students and learners can now choose from a range of course model types and most current course models have an online learning component. It is expected that online learning will continue to grow in popularity as more and more students gain access to the internet throughout the world.
  • Delivering effective online content
    • Welcome to Week 2! This week you will explore the key concept of transactional distance, a phrase coined by Michael Moore in 1998. Being physically distant from your students presents a number of challenges but building on online presence can reduce some of these issues. We will also explore three key concepts related to Moore’s early work developed by Garrison, Anderson and Archer (2000), and built into their Critical Community of Inquiry Model. The concepts are 1) teacher presence, 2) social presence and 3) cognitive presence. These three concepts inform teacher behaviours and learning design characteristics that are crucial to the successful delivery and online learning experience of students.
  • Building the digital learning skills of your learners
    • Welcome to Week 3! This week we will examine the concept of cognitive load. As educators, we need to be mindful that cognitive load pressures can adversely affect our student's ability to learn. So, this week we will explore some practical tips and techniques to prevent cognitive overload. We will also discuss the importance of creating a supportive, inclusive and welcoming online learning environment and will show you some practical tips and techniques to set up your online course where your students can thrive.
  • Building online learning communities
    • Welcome to Week 4! This week we will define the term 'learning community', then learn how to create a learning community using online discussion forums. Research tells us that meaningful, inclusive and supportive learning communities help students feel a sense of belonging. This sense of belonging can support deep learning and as a result improve student performance. As you will learn this week, discussion forums are popular tools that online educators can use to build learning effective learning communities of their very own.
  • The future of online learning
    • Welcome to Week 5! This week we look forward and explore the question, what will happen next in online education? We will investigate emerging technologies such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence, and discuss their potential impact on the online education sector. We will finish this course discussing the importance for every online educator to continuously upskill and improve their skills in online teaching. We will give you some practical tips and help you to create your own future online teaching professional development action plan.

Taught by

A/Professor Iain Hay, Billy Bruce and Jada Bennett


4.7 rating at Coursera based on 204 ratings

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