Professor Karen Swan: Lead advisor

Karen Swan is the Stukel Distinguished Professor of Educational Leadership and Research Associate in the Center for Online Learning, Research, and Service (COLRS) at the University of Illinois Springfield. Her research focuses on media and learning in general, and on online learning in particular. Karen has been teaching online for over 15 years and her experiences have guided her work on learning effectiveness, interactivity, and the development of social presence online, on which she has published extensively. Her current work explores learning analytics and the pedagogy of massive open online courses (MOOCs). Karen was awarded the Sloan-C Award for Most Outstanding Achievement in Online Learning by an Individual in 2006.

Professor Rhona Sharpe:
International version editor

Rhona Sharpe is Professor and Head of the Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development at Oxford Brookes University. She and her team run workshops, online courses, and offer consultancy for higher education institutions across the UK and internationally. She is also an Associate Lecturer for the Institute of Educational Technology at the UK Open University and a Visiting Professor at Edge Hill University. Rhona's interest in the role of technology in learning led her to direct a number of learner experience projects, which culminated in the creation of the ELESIG (Evaluation of Learners' Experiences of E-learning) community. She is a Senior Fellow of the Staff and Educational Development Association, a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a National Teaching Fellow.

Dr Peter Shea: Author

Peter Shea is an Associate Professor at the University at Albany, State University of New York, with joint appointments in the Department of Educational Theory and Practice and the Department of Informatics. He has developed and taught online courses for over 12 years. His research focuses on the development of communities of learners in higher education online environments. Peter has more than 100 publications on the topic of online learning and is co-author of the book, The Successful Distance Learning Student, published by Wadsworth. Previously, he was the Director of Online Education for the State of New York through the SUNY Learning Network and also worked as Lead Instructional Designer for that organization. Peter is a co-recipient of national awards from both the Sloan Consortium and EDUCAUSE and is a Sloan-C Fellow in research on online learning.

Dr Lawrence C. Ragan: Reviewer

Lawrence Ragan serves as the Co-Director for the Center for Online Innovation in Learning at Penn State University where he helps direct the Center's mission of research, scholarship, technology innovation, and leadership development programming. Dr Ragan has been a part of the creation and management of Penn State's World Campus since its inception in 1998. He served as the Director for Instructional Design and as the Director of Faculty Development for the World Campus. He also serves as the Co-Director of the Institute for Emerging Leadership in Online Learning (IELOL).

Wilma Alexander: Accessibility advisor

Wilma Alexander is part of the Learning Services team at the University of Edinburgh, supporting the use of online tools and technologies across the University. She has a special interest in usable and accessible digital practice, tutors on usability and accessibility for the University's Masters in Digital Education, and promotes the use of online activities for inclusive teaching and learning in the context of staff development.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • Identify and discuss the four characteristics of constructivist learning environments
  • Evaluate the changing paradigm from teaching to learning in online education
  • Utilize the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework for your online pedagogy
  • Identify and employ the key elements of online interaction
  • Demonstrate understanding of how to successfully structure an online course
  • Use both formative and summative assessment in online learning
  • Identify and understand the changing nature of online students
  • Recognize how to use direct instruction online.

Course structure

The bullet points below explain the chronology of the course and give a breakdown of each of the sections you will encounter.


The Orientation section introduces you to the content and aims of the course. There is an opportunity to assess your current knowledge, to help you evaluate your learning at the end of the course.

  • Introduction
  • Key term search

Course files

The course files contain the core course content. The content is divided into units and screens.

  • Unit 1: How people learn
  • Unit 2: A deeper dive: Theories for learner-centered online pedagogy
  • Unit 3: How people learn online
  • Unit 4: The changing nature of online students
  • Unit 5: Adapting your role: Direct instruction and supporting self-regulation


The Application section gives you the chance to apply the course content to a practical example.

  • Practice scenario


The Closing section summarizes what you have learned and provides reference materials for further study.

  • Course summary
  • Resource bank
  • References

Self assessment

The Self assessment section allows you to assess and consolidate what you have learned in the course.

  • Self assessment


Course highlights include:

  • Video of expert practitioners talking about how online learning has transformed their teaching
  • Practical tips on pedagogy for teaching adults online
  • A clear, engaging insight into constructivist teaching learning theory and an activity that will help establish your own approach to online pedagogy
  • Advice and practical activities that will help you make the transition to a learner-centered online environment
  • An opportunity to explore your own approach to using online learning activities, supported by expert follow-up advice
  • Illustrative activities that will help you structure your online learning environment.

Supporting universities

The Teaching Online program has been developed in conjunction with the following institutions:

  • University of Adelaide, Australia
  • Australian Catholic University, Australia
  • University of Ballarat, Australia
  • Cardiff University, UK
  • University of Exeter, UK
  • Florida Atlantic University, USA
  • Griffith University, Australia
  • Hong Kong University of Science
    and Technology, Hong Kong
  • University of Hull, UK
  • Massey University, New Zealand
  • University of Melbourne, Australia
  • Michigan State University, USA
  • National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland
  • University of New England, Australia
  • University of New South Wales, Australia
  • University of Northampton, UK
  • University of Queensland, Australia
  • Sheffield Hallam University, UK
  • Singapore Management University, Singapore
  • Southern Cross University, Australia
  • University of Technology, Sydney, Australia
  • University of Western Sydney, Australia