In online learning, new pedagogies focus on student-centered learning with increased options for access to learning, use of resources, interaction and engagement, styles of teaching and learning, with enhanced opportunities to learn about content and technologies and for access to experts and students in other locations.
This summary focuses on the creative designs for online learning featured in the Pockets of Innovation Series exemplifying each of these concepts.
Multiple Formats: In an approach found particularly in examples from public colleges in northern Ontario, courses are offered in multiple formats, often allowing the students to choose how they attend each class. The availability of the lectures and resource material online means time for learning and chosen delivery method are flexible to better suit student schedules.
- Online programs and courses developed at each college for students at home, in synchronous formats;
- Online programs and courses developed at each college for students at home, in asynchronous formats;
- Synchronous web conferencing, videoconferencing and/or audioconferencing available through Contact North | Contact Nord’s 116 online learning centres;
- Access to recorded lectures for the students to view online at their convenience;
- Blended courses combining online content from another college and on-campus active learning;
- Courses from other colleges assessed for equivalency and taken online for program credit;
- DVDs provided for students in areas with limited bandwidth;
- Courses offered online synchronously and asynchronously which are also available in face-to-face classes; and
- Students able to choose which format to use on a rotating basis to suit their weekly schedules, alternating between in-class attendance and synchronous and asynchronous participation in virtual classrooms.
Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada offers its large enrollment anatomy course online, with lectures, demonstrations and exercises, supplemented by the option of attending the live class lectures. In New Brunswick, Canada, Yorkville University set up online supports and supervision for students during extensive practicum in their degree programs. Business Administration students at Laval University in Québec, Canada can choose between attending live lectures or viewing the classes, either synchronously or in their own time, supplemented with online activities.
At the University of the Highlands and Islands in Scotland, programs are in the format that best suits the content and students, ranging from local programs, to learning in the field, multiple campus and off-campus offerings, all supported through technology.
Online Programs: The Pockets of Innovation Series highlights a number of complete degree programs available online, particularly in health sciences and education.
Graduate degrees available online through Ontario universities include the interdisciplinary Master of Health Management from McMaster University, and the problem-based, synchronous Master’s degree in Education and Digital Technologies at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. The University of Ottawa provides courses to and uses partner courses from a national online consortium offering French-language professional development programs in health.
In Ontario, collaboration between Northern College and Queen’s University in Ontario offers college mining technician graduates an opportunity to complete a mining degree program. Lakehead University offers complete online programs in nursing, gerontology studies, and a Master’s in Public Health, while Nipissing University works with partners across Ontario so students in the online Bachelor of Science in Nursing can complete the practicum in their own communities. These online programs are of particular benefit to students in northern and Aboriginal communities.
Interaction and Engagement: The lack of direct contact is often cited as a limitation of online learning: to address this challenge, faculty and instructors in Ontario design diverse ways to ensure students connect with each other, the professor, and the content.
Examples from Ontario colleges include a course in art history at Durham College, which not only facilitates student interaction in assignments and projects, but also stresses the creation of a social presence by each student and a design that fosters interaction with the content. In a Durham College course in Women’s Studies, connections to the lives of the students and the material they previously studied guide the content, its presentation, and related activities. At Cambrian College, eDome serves as a facility for delivery of all formats of distance education that link together students from multiple communities, as well as a production centre for sophisticated educational resources.
A course in Quebec history at Carleton University in Ontario concludes with an online debate that draws together all the key themes, and offers students experience in presenting and referencing points of view. In a graduate education course at Ontario’s Western University, the focus is on making connections with people, content, new ideas, and the technology through collaborative learning, student development of content, professor as co-learner, and peer assessment. Many other courses integrate blogs, discussion groups, group assignments, break-out rooms, and other strategies for student cooperation and collaboration.
The library at the Open University, U.K. works to engage students through panels, social media, events and seminars, as well as embedding the principles of accessibility in all their services.
New Formats: Canadian universities offer examples of using new formats to enhance students access and flexibility. Videos of specimens and models created on an iPhone for an anatomy class at the University of Prince Edward Island allow students to study and review as a supplement to lab-based learning. At Université de Sherbrooke, Québec, iPads are used extensively by professors in the Department of Medicine to provide students with course notes, images, audio and video materials. Science students at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia have access to a specially designed dialectical map to help students state and sharpen their points of views on controversial questions. The Justice Institute of British Columbia uses a tool it designed to provide realistic training simulations for emergency management personal; the tool is now widely used in multiple professions.
A MOOC developed at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology offers students flexibility in start and exams dates, as well as the possibility of taking the course for credit after the successful completion of two modules. The Technical University of Denmark set up an online alternative to its face-to-face program that qualifies students with technical training and experience to apply for engineering degrees.
Synchronous Teaching and Learning: At Ontario public colleges and universities, such as the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, professors take advantage of the immediacy and connections of synchronous online learning, integrating lectures, videos, break-out groups, class presentations, polls, discussions, and sharing of documents and resources in real-time. Immersive telepresence at Lakehead University allow interaction and exchange among students in classrooms on two campuses and remote learners.
At Western University, students choose between an online, synchronous or in-class course in Human Anatomy, accompanied by an online lab using a virtual 3D slide set. Students in the Literacy and Basic Skills Program at Confederation College take courses from home or local Contact North | Contact Nord online learning centres, working online at their own pace in full-time day-time or part-time evening classes. The instructors are online for the same hours as the students to offer support and answer questions.
Building Knowledge and Community: Online learning often involves students in the role of teacher as well as learner, with the professor becoming a guide and participant in the process.
In Ontario, online courses in medical studies at the University of Toronto are structured so the students work together to build knowledge through collaboration, using case studies, knowledge sharing and problem-solving. A course in Chinese language, also at the University of Toronto, engages students in assessing which apps are most effective for language learning and practice. A design course at George Brown College uses the concept of student-created content to assess the latest design apps. At Brock University, a community of practice is established so facilitators of the online adult education courses can share experiences, perspectives, and teaching and learning strategies to improve their students’ performance. The establishment of a community of learners is core to student participation, with an emphasis on discussion boards and peer evaluation, in graduate education courses at Nipissing University.
The Centre for Technology, Education and Culture in Israel uses a special design it created that brings together different cultural groups in small groups for online learning in education. A graduate education degree program at the University of Florida, USA, stresses the creation of online faculty, social, cognitive, and learner presence in a Community of Inquiry framework. Kristiania University College in Norway encourages collaboration and support among students in asynchronous courses with continuous entry through discussion groups, online introductions and encouraging exchange and peer review of assignments.
Social Media: Some online course designs feature social media as both content and vehicle for the learning. At Durham College, a course in the use of social media for communication, collaboration, and education is adapted to fit into numerous programs. The learning and assignments are built around applications of various apps, applicable to each program field. In digital media courses at Queen’s University, social media is used to encourage student participation, develop digital literacy, support collaborative and self-directed learning, and form the basis of the content and assignments. Marketing courses at Seneca College and Sports Ethics at the University of Windsor use Facebook, Twitter, and other apps for student interaction and content sharing. The Library at the University of Toronto Mississauga links with students through social media for information, feedback, and tutorials.
Online learning is firmly integrated in colleges and universities, offering students greater access, flexibility, participation in teaching and learning, and experiences not possible in a face-to-face classroom. Faculty adapt their thinking about how to teach, making creative use of the opportunities online learning provides.
Click one of the three links below to see a list of the Pockets of Innovation under each category and a link to the specific Pocket of Innovation.
- Brock University - Facilitator Community of Practice: An online communications and information environment for facilitators of adult education programs
- Cambrian College - eDome: A high-end facility for the production and delivery of enhanced online learning opportunities for students
- Cambrian College - Student Choice: Offering Multiple Course Design Options for Better Access and Learning at Cambrian College
- Canadore College - Expanding Flexible Access in the School of Sports and Recreation at Canadore College
- Carleton University - Increasing Student Enrolment, Retention, and Participation through Online Delivery of an Introduction to Québec Society Course at Carleton University
- Collège Boréal - Matching Pedagogy and Technology: Providing student choice for effective learning at Collège Boréal
- Confederation College - Reaching Out: Delivery options that provide anywhere, any time learning opportunities for students at Confederation College
- Confederation College - Synchronous, Interactive, and Individual - Online learning opportunities for adults at Confederation College
- Durham College - Designing Online Courses with Visual Stimulation to Enhance Student Engagement at Durham College
- Durham College - Developing Online Courses that Connect to Students’ Lives at Durham College
- Durham College - Social Media and Society: Using social media for student learning about social media at Durham College
- George Brown College - Student-Generated Course Content: A student-centred pedagogical model for teaching and learning
- Lakehead University - From Access to Graduate Programs: An extensive array of learning opportunities for nursing and health science students
- Lakehead University - Using Immersive Telepresence Classrooms to Link Students on Two Campuses and throughout the Region at Lakehead University
- McMaster University - Master of Health Management: Flexible learning for health care professionals
- Nipissing University - Community of Learners: Supporting and assessing online communications with Faculty of Education graduate students at Nipissing University
- Nipissing University - Providing Access and Flexibility: Innovative learning opportunities for nursing students at Nipissing University
- Northern College - A Collaboration Between Northern College in Haileybury, Canada and Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada Creates an Online Degree Program in Mining Engineering Technology
- Northern College - Flexibility in the Design and Delivery of the Mining Engineering Technician Program at Northern College
- Queen’s University - A Collaboration Between Northern College in Haileybury, Canada and Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada Creates an Online Degree Program in Mining Engineering Technology
- Queen’s University - Connected Teaching and Learning: Using online delivery and social media for more engaged and effective learning
- Sault College - Offering alternatives - Enhancing student learning through flexible course delivery at Sault College
- Seneca College - Integrating Facebook and Twitter: Helping Students Learn How to Learn Using Social Media at Seneca College
- University of Ontario Institute of Technology - Developing Autonomous Learners: Degree programs in education and digital technologies
- University of Ontario Institute of Technology - Graduate Degrees through Synchronous Online Learning at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology
- University of Ottawa - Professional Development: Developing Online Resources for Health Professionals
- University of Toronto - Choosing the Most Effective Tools for Technology-Enhanced Teaching and Learning in Chinese Language Courses at the University of Toronto Mississauga, Canada
- University of Toronto - Engaging with Students through Social Media: The University of Toronto Mississauga Library Integrates New Ways of Communicating
- University of Toronto - Knowledge Building: Using online environments for case-based learning in the health sciences
- University of Windsor - Using Twitter in the Classroom for Student Engagement and Exchange at University of Windsor
- Western University - Online Microscopic Anatomy Laboratory Courses – Including Virtual Microscopy Slides – at Western University
- Western University - Teaching in a Virtual World: Students connecting as online teachers and learners in the Faculty of Education at Western University
- Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia - Teaching an Online Large Enrolment Course in Anatomy at Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, Canada
- Justice Institute of British Columbia - Praxis: An Online Simulation Training Environment for Scenario-Based Real-Time Decision-Making at the Justice Institute of British Columbia, British Columbia
- Laval University, Québec -– L’Enseignement Comodal: Dual Mode Teaching in Business Administration at Laval University, Québec
- Simon Fraser University, British Columbia - Developing Skills of Argumentation in Undergraduate Science Students Through the Use of an Online Dialectical Map at Simon Fraser University, British Columbia
- Université de Sherbrooke, Québec - Using iBook Author and iPads to Manage Content for Pre-Medical Students and Faculty at the Department of Medicine, Université de Sherbrooke, Québec
- University of Prince Edward Island - Using QR Codes and Mobile Phones for Teaching Gross Anatomy at the University of Prince Edward Island
- Yorkville University, New Brunswick - Developing Practica for an Online Masters of Arts in Counselling Psychology at Yorkville University, New Brunswick
- Centre for Technology, Education and Cultural Diversity, Israel - Multicultural Collaborative Online Learning and Teaching Designed and Implemented by the Centre for Technology, Education and Cultural Diversity in Israel
- Kristiania University College, Norway - Innovations in Student Interaction, Support, and Evaluation at Kristiania University College in Norway
- Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway - Creating a MOOC that Emphasizes Flexibility for Students at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway
- Open University, UK - Digital by Design: Library Services at the Open University, United Kingdom
- Technical University of Denmark - An Online Admissions Program Expands Access to Engineering Degrees at Technical University of Denmark
- University of Florida, USA - Creating Presence in an Online Doctoral Program at the University of Florida
- University of the Highlands and Islands, Scotland - Enhancing Student Learning, Curriculum Resources, Staff Development, and Employer Satisfaction in the Educational Development Unit at the University of the Highlands and Islands, Scotland