How People Learn Online

Much of the core of educational research about how people learn is still useful when moving to online design. As Professor Bates has pointed out in his text Teaching in a Digital Age, most educational institutions still offer fairly traditional classroom-type online learning.

The well-researched Community of Inquiry model from the University of Athabasca focuses on the importance of creating a sense of community in an online classrom to ensure that the social dimension of learning isn't lost and students can be successful in completing a structure course with specific learning outcomes.

a graphic of the Community of Inquiry model

Publications that share advice on how to teach effectively online generally derive from one of the four paradigms or perspectives of reality and learning and focus on a specific model or aspect of the approach to teaching or the use of technology (e.g., e-Learning and the Science of Instruction (Clark & Mayer) focuses on theories of how people learn with multimedia). In Week 2 we'll share more information about ways to apply media-based approaches to design.

A final note of interest, Professor Linda Harasim's most recent text, Learning Theory and Online Technologies (2017) adds a 5th category to consider:  Collaborativist (or Online Collaborative Learning).  Later that year, University of California, Irvine established a Connect Learning Lab to explore how this theory might be used in innovative ways.

a graphic of connected learning