Reflecting on good practice in online learning…

Halfway through Unit 2 in my ISWo course in the Moodle environment. It’s been challenging keeping up while going through a departmental re-org. But it’s been inspiring to hear other instructors talk about how much they are juggling and how they cope.

During our joint case analysis for this week, we’ve also been asked to write (or draw or vidblog or whatever) an example of “good practice” we have experienced (as an instructor or student) in an online course. I recently returned from a 6 month leave that involved traveling and exploring different models of learning. My particular focus was to explore many of the newer MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and to contrast them with the original collaborative, connectivist-style MOOCs piloted by David Wiley and our own George Siemens/Stephen Downes (see Connectivism).

One of the most challenging and interesting MOOCs I tried was a Wikieducator course called “Open Content Licensing for Educators“.

I had been trying to diagram how the different MOOCs were structured (using Google’s fun and easy little drawing tool) but the Wikieducator facilitators were ahead of me and provided an open licensed image that I’ll share with you – it will help me talk about what I experienced as “good practice” based on adult learning theories and my own personal preferences as a learner.

In relation to other experiences I have had, this one helped me to see that some of the things I had tried to do as an online instructor (albeit with a drastically smaller audience) could be done better. Despite the challenge of an enormous audience (thousands from around the world), the four facilitators were definitely “present” and I never felt adrift in a virtual vacuum.

From a personal perspective, the value and purpose of this course was immediately clear from the description:

a free online workshop designed for educators and students who want to learn more about open education resources, copyright, and creative commons licenses

a Wikieducator course

a really open course

Part of my role at Yukon College is to help instructors navigate the rules of copyright as they apply to creating course websites or learning activities. The MOOC-model of course delivery is based on a dialogical model of delivery (a huge ongoing conversation with vastly complex, interconnected strands).

Take a look at the diagram of course design and you’ll see that they provided a range of options as to how we could communicate (i.e., supported by the use of two online discussion fora, Moodle or Wikieducator, and three microblogging tools (i.e.,, WikiEducator Notes, and Twitter).

If you explore the way the course content was written and the learning activities designed (scroll down through the length course schedule page)  you’ll see that the multiple authors reflected cognitivist, constructivist and connectivist theories of learning. The first section began by establishing the value of the subject area

Why does open matter in education? 
Unit: Educators care: Why open matters (Part 1)

Sections 3 and 4 of the course established a common foundation of knowledge through traditional methods but also included opportunities to engage with the content through the analysis of case studies. A continuous integration of varied self-testing activities helped me identify the aspects of core concepts that I hadn’t fully understood.

What can educators legally copy in an online world?
Unit: Copyright: Your educational right to copy

How can educators refine their copyright for sharing knowledge?
Unit: Creative Commons unplugged

Section 5 helped me to apply what I had learned to my own situation.

What license should I use for open educational resources I create?  Unit: The right license

I found this open online course so useful that I’m going to integrate it into my practice and see if I can create a series of workshops on the newly amended Canadian Copyright Act that are as engaging and useful.


Kop, Rita & A. Hill (2008) . Connectivism: Learning theory of the future or vestige of the past?  The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, Vol 9, No3, Retrieved from

Smith, M. K. (1999) ‘The cognitive orientation to learning’, the encyclopedia of informal, Last update: May 29, 2012. Retrieved February 21, 2013.

Smith, M. K. (1999) ‘The humanistic to learning’, the encyclopedia of informal, Last update: May 29, 2012. Retrieved February 21, 2013.

Smith, M. K. (1999) ‘The social/situational orientation to learning’, the encyclopedia of informal, Last update: May 29, 2012. Retrieved February 21, 2013.


About Cloudsyl

Now a mid-Island observer of the Cloud
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