Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Foundations of Online Teaching and Learning

LEVEL I - Introductory Level


DEPARTMENT Centre for the Liberal Arts and Sciences

DESCRIPTION In Malta, many full-time workers and students are resorting to online learning programs for their professional and personal development. Higher, further and adult education institutions, vocational colleges and the human resource departments of various medium-sized and large local corporations have to cater for an ever-growing demand for full and hybrid online courses. They therefore require educators and trainers who are knowledgeable and skillful in both adult and online education theories and practices. This Unit is intended to introduce participants to the foundational knowledge and skills necessary for facilitating a successful online Unit. It is designed for anyone currently teaching or planning to teach an online or hybrid course for adults. Participants will receive an introduction to learning theories and be introduced to different types of online teaching course design and educational technologies. The Unit will discuss best practices in course design, development, implementation and evaluation and the concept of building community.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the Unit the student will be able to:
- Demonstrate an understanding of the main theoretical models of education relevant to 21st century adult and online teaching and learning;
- Identify the unique characteristics of online teaching and learning;
- Identify the unique characteristics and needs of the adult learner, and use these characteristics in the development of learning programs;
- Explain the roles of (i) the e-tutor and (ii) online adult learners;
- Identify Internet resources (including Learning Management Systems, blogs and wikis) that can allow the creation and development of dialogue between the students and their tutor, and between the students themselves, during collaborative activities;
- Utilize different Internet resources as educational tools; and
- Demonstrate a critical understanding of the importance of learning online through dialogue.

2. Skills:

By the end of the Unit the student will be able to:
- Participate effectively in synchronous and asynchronous virtual learning communities;
- Be familiar with the main features and functions of Moodle, the University of Malta Learning Management System, and other learning management systems;
- Apply the main tenets of educational theories to online teaching and learning;
- Create camaraderie, connectedness and belonging within a virtual community;
- Enhance communication and discussion between members of a community of learning;
- Apply the principles of the Community of Inquiry Framework in online teaching and learning efforts;
- Use the pedagogical features and functions of various online applications and tools, including Learning Management Systems, social networking sites and Web 2.0 tools.
- Identify and integrate Reusable Learning Objects in their learning efforts;
- Identify and address accessibility issues; and
- Apply Universal Design principles to make the learning effort accessible to all members of the learning community.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main Texts:

- Anderson, T. (Ed.) (2008) Theory and Practice of Online Learning, Athabasca University, available at
- Ko, S. & Rossen, S. (2010) Teaching online: a practical guide (3rd edition), London, Routledge.
- Garrison, D. R. (2011) E-learning in the 21st century: a framework for research and practice, London, Routledge.
- Kidd, T. T. (Ed.) (2010) Online Education and Adult Learning: New Frontiers for Teaching Practices, New York, Information Science Reference.
- Selwyn, N., Gorard, S. & Furlong, J. (2006) Adult learning in the digital age: information technology and the learning society, London Routledge.

Supplementary Readings:

- 3PlayMedia (2013) ‘Accessibility specialists: understanding “invisible” disabilities and what this means for online education,
- Ally, M. (2008), ‘Foundations of Educational Theory and Practice’, in Anderson, T. (Ed.) (2008) Theory and Practice of Online Learning, Athabasca University,
- Anderson, T. (2008) ‘Teaching in an Online Context’, in Anderson, T. (Ed.) Theory and Practice of Online Learning, Athabasca University,
- Cercone, K. (2008), ‘Characteristics of adult learners with implications for online learning design’, AACE Journal, 16(2), 137-159.
- Constructivism and online education
- Constructivism as a Paradigm for Teaching and Learning,
- Dabbagh, N. (2007) ‘The online learner: Characteristics and pedagogical implications’ Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education [Online serial], 7(3).
- Faculty eCommons, (2012) ‘Helpful Strategies and Tips: Multimedia’
- Gutierrez, K. (2013) ‘Understand These 10 Principles of Good Design Before You Start Your Next eLearning Project’,
- How course design puts the focus on learning not teaching
- Huang, H. (2002) ‘Towards constructivism for adult learners in online learning environments’, British Journal of Educational Technology, 33(1) pp. 27-37.
- Laurillard, D. (2014), Five myths about Moocs, Times Higher Education,
- Palloff, R.M. and Pratt, K. (2007) ‘Building Virtual Communities: Techniques That Work!’, 23rd Annual Concference on Distance Teaching and Learning,
- Sadera, W. A. (2009) ‘The Role of Community in Online Learning Success’, MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching,
- Swan, K. & Shea, P. (2005) ‘The development of virtual learning communities’ in Hiltz, S. R. & Goldman, R., Asynchronous Learning Networks: The Research Frontier, New York: Hampton Press, 239-260,
- The 7 Principles of Universal Design

ADDITIONAL NOTES Pre-requisite knowledge, skills and competences:
- A good working knowledge of English (a pass in Ordinary Level English or equivalent).
- Basic ICT and internet skills.

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Group Learning and Online Lectures

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Reflective Diary SEM1 Yes 30%
Online Moderated Discussions and Postings SEM1 No 30%
Portfolio SEM1 Yes 40%

LECTURER/S Joseph Vancell

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.