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Teachers’ workload

This step shows how we can estimate the changes in teacher workload and student experience, for the move to online learning.

We have to talk about workload. For teachers there is an inevitable significant increase in workload as we move from conventional to online teaching and learning.

The move from conventional to online creates the additional workload of innovation and discovery. It is very unfamiliar to most teachers, and there is a lot to learn, about both pedagogy and technology. In addition to that, conventional and online teaching require very different distributions of workload from the first run of a course or class to the later re-runs of it.

The learning designs we have seen for online teaching in this course have typically involved much more scaffolding and support for the student working at home than is usual for conventional teaching. There the main focus of creative pedagogy is focused on the classroom contact time. Homework and assignments are not included in lesson planning or plans for a class session.

On the other hand, the learning designs we have seen for wholly online or blended learning have been more complex, with the creative pedagogy reaching directly into guiding what the student should do in order to learn in the absence of the teacher, using various digital methods. This makes a significant difference to the teacher’s workload.

Workload is a numbers game. In this Step we look at contrasting estimates of teacher workload to compare a conventional lecture/presentation session with its conversion to a wholly online session.

But the change is not just for the teacher. The way the student spends their study time is very different as well. If we also compare the student experience of learning, we can see another significant difference between f2f and online in terms of the distribution of the learning types they are using. This exercise works through those comparisons.


  1. Run the ppt in Downloads to hear the voice-over explaining the estimates of teacher workload and student learning experience in the two cases. In presenter mode the transcript is alongside each slide. Or just go through each slide and click on the audio symbol, bottom right, to play it while you look at the slide.

  2. Look at the Excel model in Downloads, from which the comparisons are derived. These are the same assumptions and estimates related to the teaching time needed and the learning experience created for each element. You can edit in your own estimates for the different elements, if they differ from what you feel is realistic. It then calculates the resulting ratios.

  3. Test the numbers to see if you can estimate for yourself how much your workload would change, and how that would change your students’ learning experience.


Does this analysis make sense to you?

To what extent do you agree that it helps you see how moving online increases workload in the short run, and also to some extent over the longer run as well?

Do you think it’s useful to do this kind of analysis, to check that it results in a better learning experience for the students?

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Blended and Online Learning Design

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FutureLearn - Learning For Life

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