Preparing for Online Learning

  • What is the significance of knowing the technology available to you?

When learning online, students are registered for specific topics and the learning technology is not the topic. Knowing how to use technology will lead to less frustration of the students (Conrad, R., & Donaldson, J. A. (2011). Ideally instructors would have good working knowledge of the technology they will be using. This will help with troubleshooting as well as assessing the knowledge of the student. (Conrad, R., & Donaldson, J. A. (2011). When the students and the instructor know how to use the technology, more focus can be placed on the actual topics of learning.

  • Why is it essential to communicate clear expectations to learners?

Online learning uses the constructivist theory at it truest form by creating a learning community. The instructor is key to facilitating discussions that engage learning between all participants. Themes are tools to assist the instructor with the basic goals  for the class and students. The instructor should be attentive to the course beginning themes such as presence, community, patience and clear expectations (Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010).

Presence is the most important best practice for the online course. There are many ways to work on presence, in a learning community social presence is where all participants contribute to the discussion including the instructor and students. Cognitive presence encourages the students to state their goals. This can be accomplished by requesting the students state their goals in a discussion. Next is community. A sense of community can be built through an exercise called an ice breaker. I was reminded that first impressions are very important. I feel this was summed up by the video in which Drs. Palloff and Pratt discussed how important the first communications were to setting up a successful online experience. The importance becomes evident in the loss of participants in the first weeks of class (Laureate Education (Producer). (2010). Finally patience, this is not only patience for your students as they become acclimated to the learning community. The instructor should also be patient with themselves as they are also acclimating to online learning.

  • What additional considerations should the instructor take into account when setting up an online learning experience?

As a reminder the post by Tony Bates reminds us to evaluate in the article Nine Steps to Online Learning (Bates, T, 2012). Evaluation should be present in all types of learning and all stages of the learning process through the ADDIE process.Evaluation is needed “for instructors new to it, online teaching is different and therefore likely to be seen as higher risk” (Bates, T, 2012).


Laureate Education (Producer). (2010). Launching the online learning experience [Video file].

Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010). The Online Teaching Survival Guide. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass

Conrad, R., & Donaldson, J. A. (2011). Engaging the online learner: Activities and resources for creative instruction (Updated ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass

Bates, Tony (2012). Nine Steps to Online Learning (

4 thoughts on “Preparing for Online Learning

  1. Hi Jane,
    I enjoyed reading your post on setting up an online learning experience. I also think presence is important in online courses. Focusing on social presence at the beginning of a course is a great way for the students and the instructor to get to know each other as real people (Laureate Education, 2010). This sets a foundation of trust and presence for the teaching and learning experiences to follow (Laureate Education, 2010). Instructors can then shift to getting students to thinking about the course content and establishing cognitive presence by asking students what their learning goals are for the course (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010). Instructors can also establish a teaching presence in the online course by ensuring all the course content is prepared and ready to go as well as being prepared to facilitate the students through the course (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010).
    I agree with you that patience is another important factor in the online learning environment. I think it takes time for students to build online learning skills, to realize they need to take more responsibility for their learning, and to be active learners especially if they have never taken online courses before (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010). It is also important to note that it takes time for instructors to build online teaching skills, therefore, having patience with the online learning experience is imperative as it is very different than the traditional classroom experience.

    Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010). The Online Teaching Survival Guide. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
    Laureate Education (Producer). (2010). Launching the online learning experience [Video file].


  2. I love your post, I agree with the constructivist theory model because I believe online learning can provide for so many more opportunities to experience the content and from a more diverse audience and then to come back together and share our experience together.

    Also, your last thoughts about evaluation are so important in my opinion. I find that many companies, my own included, have historically done a poor job at evaluating learning. In some cases older assessments we have are almost meant to trick the learner instead of pointedly determining if they learned from the course content. Fortunately we are getting better now and starting to develop good knowledge assessments and for more critical skills performance evaluations as well.



  3. Boettcher & Conrad (2010), describe four main themes that are essential to any online course however, I agree with you that presence is an important best practice. Whether its social, cognitive, or teaching presence it all focuses around creating an environment for learners to create goals, collaborate, and think critically. Social presence in online learning stimulates the whole learning experience, enhances learners-instructors interactions, and improves learners to learners activities as well (Garcia-O’Neill, 2016).

    Boettcher, J, Conrad, R.M. (2010). The Online Teaching Survival Guide. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
    Garcia-O’Neill, E. (2016, January 21). Elearning Industry. Retrieved from


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