Online Learning

Educational Technology 0858-610, Spring 2022

Description: Students study online learning in distance and blended classes, virtual schools in both higher education and K-12 settings. Looking at pedagogy, best practices, interactivity and student-centered design, this class considers the positive and negative potential of online learning in terms of universal accessibility, teacher development, and economic sustainability.

Keywords: online learning, hybrid learning, blended learning, virtual schools, distance learning, remote learning, flipped classroom

Instructor: Matthew X. Curinga,

Office hours:

Goals & objectives

Online, blended and web-enhanced learning is a major part of both higher education and K-12 teaching, learning. Students need to become aware of this new method of teaching, learning and instructional delivery. Students who wish to become educational professionals need to understand the pedagogy, best practices, interactivity and student-centered instructional design principles required for quality online, blended and web-enhanced learning. Students should also have an understanding of the political issues surrounding online, blended and web-enhanced learning such as cost, technical infrastructure, teacher development, student and teacher support and profit.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

Course Topics


Week Dates Topic
1 Jan 25 - Jan 31 Introduction
2 Feb 01 - Feb 07 Instructional design
3 Feb 08 - Feb 14 Multimedia Theory
4 Feb 15 - Feb 21 Universal Design
5 Feb 22 - Feb 28 Platforms
6 Mar 01 - Mar 07 Assessment
7 Mar 08 - Mar 14 Presence
- Mar 15 - Mar 21 spring break
8 Mar 22 - Mar 28 Adaptive Learning
9 Mar 29 - Apr 04 Remote Learning 1
10 Apr 05 - Apr 11 Remote Learning 2
11 Apr 12 - Apr 18 Prototpye 1
12 Apr 19 - Apr 25 Prototpye 2
13 Apr 26 - May 02 Final Run 1
14 May 03 - May 09 Final Run 2
- May 10 - May 16 no class (makeup day)
15 May 17 - May 23 Projects due

Week 1: Introduction


Week 2: Instructional Design


Week 3: Multimedia Theory


Week 4: Universal Design for Learning (UDL)


Due: Narrated Tutorial

Week 5: Platforms

Look through some possible platforms and pick one in which to design your online unit.

Week 6: Assessment


Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2005). Chapter 1: Backwards Design in Understanding by design. Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development.

Due: Pandemic Report Topic and Teams

Week 7: Presence


Week 8: Adaptive Learning



Due: Remote Learning Report (paper and video by end of week)

Week 9: Remote Learning 1

Watch: all of the remote learning 1 videos.

Week 10: Remote Learning 2

Watch: all of the remote learning 2 videos.

Week 11 & 12: Prototyping

Due: Present your Prototype and participate in three of your peers’ units.

Week 13 & 14: Final Run

Due: Present your revised mini-unit and participate in three of your peers’ units.

Week 15: Mini-unit due

Due: Turn in your final mini-unit.

Assignments & Grading

Assignment Pct Date Due
Participation 10% ongoing
Narrated Tutorial 20% Feb 21
Remote Learning Report 25% Mar 28
Prototype 15% Apr 11
Final Run 30% May 23

Narrated Tutorial

Create a short (3-5 minute) standalone, narrated video tutorial or mini-lecture and upload it to YouTube. This video should be clearly narrated and thoughtfully designed, following the principles of Multimedia Theory and using an appropriate mix of multimedia (text, visual, audio, etc.) components. The topic is up to you, but it should be educational and/or informative. You may pick a topic that you might use for your mini-unit (see below) or in a future lesson, or you can choose a topic that you are expert in and enthusiastic to share with us. The video can easily be created using applications such as PowerPoint or Keynote, or a screencast application like Open Broadcast Studio (the software I use for screencasts), Screencastify, Quicktime Player, Explain Everything or similar application. While you can use clips from other videos, don’t insert clips longer than 15-20 seconds.

Remote Learning Report (pair)

The COVID-19 pandemic uprooted schools across the globe, at every level of learning. Public school systems struggled to move to online formats. University enrollments plummeted. “Essential” standardized assessments were postponed or canceled. Many open questions remain about the effectiveness of the various approaches to learning during the pandemic. In fact, we don’t have a clear picture, yet, of the whole spectrum of modifications that took place. For this project, you will investigate a particular aspect of remote learning during the pandemic and write a paper (1,500 - 1,800 words) with your findings. Examples of possible topics:

You paper will gather research that allows you to learn about and fully describe your topic. Start with newspaper articles and magazine articles (available for search through the Lexis Nexis database). You can also incorporate primary sources such as school district announcements, state agency reports, social media posts from educators/students/parents, etc. Your paper should be organized into the following sections:

  1. Introduction: describe the topic, why it’s important, what type of data you gathered
  2. Analysis: review the news articles, reports, and other data that your investigation uncovered. Organize and synthesize the findings to offer a coherent look at the topic. Consider how “remote learning” in practice compares to our understanding of the best practices for online instruction.
  3. Conclusion: extend your analysis to point to which approaches to remote learning were most effective, which should be avoided, and which areas need further research and refinement.

This paper should be a pair project – you will work with a partner to research and write the report.

Your team will submit the written report worth 20 points, and will also upload a 5-minute video report where you summarize your key findings and explain the core results of your paper. These videos will be shared with the class for comments and discussion during weeks


The online mini-unit constitutes the biggest part of your grade and is split into two phases: Prototype and Final Run. Together these will take up roughly the last four weeks of the semester. During the Prototype phase, you will run a rough and/or partial version of your mini-unit, and the rest of the class will enroll as students. We will give you feedback that you will use to revise for the Final Run, which will have to be polished. You will get feedback again that you can use to revise it one more time.

The mini-unit is a culmination of all the readings and assignments you did in this class. It should be a self-contained, complete unit that would take up roughly 3 hours of a student’s time. This means you shouldn’t have students watch a 3-hour long video or read a novel, as it would take up too much time; nor should it be too short. If your unit is intended for a younger audience, let us know and we can adjust our expectations. The mini-unit can be about something you might teach in class or it could be something fun that works well as an online unit. The unit should contain assessment(s) that checks for understanding. It should also contain some logical progression, so it shouldn’t be just a single lesson or tutorial. Finally, it should be designed for a minimum of 15 students. You won’t have that many enrolled in this class but it should be designed to accommodate at least 15 students.


In Week 11 and 12 we will prototype the courses. Half the class will be teachers for the week and the other half will be students in three courses. This way each course will have 3-5 students enrolled. The prototype should focus on the part of the lesson that is most experimental or has the most most open questions. You may need to test if your assessment is valid or if your activity instructions are clear, or whether a video or written instructional material is more effective. The prototype should be developed enough for us to evaluate whether it is headed in the right direction and whether it adequately reflects your understanding of the topics covered in the class. At the very least it should have activities to do and it should be built on a platform of your choice. As the unit designer, you will be in charge of running the unit as the instructor. If you are not presenting that week, then you should enroll in three of your peers’ units that week; this should give everyone plenty of feedback.

Don’t use Edmodo: Although some of you may be familiar with Edmodo, the way it is designed makes it difficult to differentiate between different classes. Here’s one done on Weebly that is quite well designed. Students have also used Moodle Cloud, Flipgrid, Google Classroom, Classcraft, Canvas, and Schoology in the past.

Your Prototype will be evaluated based on whether the part you presented was functional and ready; whether you had sufficient interaction with your students; and whether it demonstrated an understanding of design principles we discussed, especially Multimedia Theory and Universal Design. If you are a student, your participation will be evaluated by the unit designer; this grade will go towards your participation grade that week. Participating as a student means getting involved in the activities, not just looking at the website.

Final Run

After your Prototype has run, go through the comments you received and list 3-5 of the main, recurring themes that you want to address. As the unit designer, you can choose to accept or reject any comments, provided you give a rationale. This should be turned in as part of your Final Run. (Write a summary of the comments and actions you took, about 500 words).

The Final Run will occur two weeks after you present your Prototype. That means if you presented your Prototype first, you will do the Final Run first as well. The upside of that is you will have a lot more time to polish it before you turn it in. It should be a fully functional mini-unit. Everything—the activities, the discussions, the assessments—should work. Your evaluation will be based on whether the mini-unit as a whole was cohesive, had a logical progression in topics, had meaningful assessments that let students know how they are doing, was thoughtfully designed and straightforward to navigate.

After your unit has run, collect the feedback again and do any additional revisions you want. You will turn in the mini-unit at the end of the semester. As with the Final Run, it should come with a short (1-2 pages double-spaced) description of what feedback you used or rejected. It should also point me to any changes you made since the Final Run.

Design Tips

Here are some tips based on previous classes:


This is a graduate course where you are expected to complete weekly readings and fully participate in discussions in class and on Moodle. In order for the discussion to flow smoothly online, you should respond to the voicethread and forum discussion by the dates noted on the syllabus, and spend the remainder of the week responding to what your peers have posted. Your responses to your peers should be thoughtful, critical and substantive. Your participation grade will be based on the timeliness and quality of your posts, your responses to your peers, and any other activities that might be associated with the week. Your participation grade is given out on a weekly basis. You can track your participation grade on Moodle. For each week of the course you will earn either 0 or 1 points for participating in the course activities. In addition to these 15 points, you will have the opportunity to earn and extra 5 bonus points. Bonus points will be awarded for helping other students, starting discussions with thoughtful posts, and generally forwarding our shared goals for the course, beyond the regular class participation.