Designing eLearning Experiences

What is your personal perspective on the best manner of designing instruction for online teaching and learning? What is your process? Does it match any existing methods? If so, which? How did you learn to design instruction? Does your process for designing instruction match your larger theoretical perspective? Where is it the same? Where does it diverge?

Dewey (1904) stressed that teaching requires a technique,requiring training in psychological insight, theory, and experience. The idea mentioned above still  holds true today in both virtual and face to face instructional environments. Papert (1993) suggests that new technologies enhances learning with students actively participating as creators of personal media, supporting diverse intellectual thoughts and styles. As a contributor and student advocate towards a revolution within eLearning and maker movement, I emphasize the topic of voice within instructional design. How is voice utilized within instructional environments? Too often, instructional voice is a passive or copied MOOC or eLearning response. In fact, often eLearning professionals lack instructional voice and ignore the need of learners to receive valuable feedback within the community. Likewise, universities eLearning attempt to copy courses and include faculty whom are often unwilling to embrace the online movement. As a student, I have participated and paid for a poor online course. The teacher failed at communication and course work was copied within the blackboard environment. As a participant, I felt lost and alone. In fact, I could of recieved the same quality of instruction watching YouTube videos.  Within this attempt, faculty fail students as teachers and provide little to no communication.   Facilitation is needed within both face to face and eLearning environments.

Teaching, in both face to face or virtually, is an art. Teachers must tailor course objectives and instruction, building an engaging and meaningful community. Anderson (2004) provides an excellent description of the role of a teacher within an online community.  Effective eLearning environments must include three critical pieces:  cognitive presence, social presence, and teaching presence.

It is important to understand that learning to design online instruction requires participating within online environments as an instructor, designer, and student. Doing so provides perspective and produces a quality eLearning teacher, or artist. Failing to participate fully as an online student, teacher, and designer reduces skills sets mentioned above which produces a poor eLearning contributor and creator.  Active learning requires active participation.

The process of instructional design within such environments is challenging as a designer as creation components require instructors to select technologies that embrace a wide variety of accessibility features. Learning artifacts, authentic reflection pieces, and feedback mechanisms should provide users with a choice of mediums. It is important for the learner to apply content to their real world situation, capture a learning artifact, and share reflections with a wider or global audience using media technologies. The instructor must facilitate this process and a copied course approach does not facilitate such an approach. The above process requires a strong life-long commitment by faculty to be a learner and will require institutions to provide instructional technology training to a faculty population who often fail to embrace change via eLearning platforms.  Perhaps, the time has come for many organizations to recognize that old approaches, although still valid, must be altered to embrace a deeper eLearning experience that students richly deserve.


Anderson, T. (2004). Teaching in an online learning context. Theory and practice of online learning, 273.


Papert, S. (1993). The children’s machine: Rethinking school in the age of the computer. Basic Books.


About instructionaltechnologist101

Instructional Technologist 1 to 1, Avid change agent, Mac Enthusiastic, Implemented K12 1:1 program, managed offsite curriculum center in community museum, learner, PhD student in Educational Technology at University of North Texas. The future is now!

Posted on April 4, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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