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Designing online learning experiences

Online learning is an example of using the virtual space.
Hello my name is Vily Papageorgiou and I’m a Learning Designer at Coventry University Online. I believe that the well-designed online course should include
three key aspects: a narrative that can engage learners and create recall in their minds, a social learning experience that can provoke conversations between learners and a variety of activities that involve learners in active learning and mastering of new skills.
Narrative is a way of creating coherence and drive for learners and motivating them without the benefit of face-to-face lectures. So, when I design a course I make sure that there is a logical sequence and progression of ideas through steps, activities and weeks that encourages, inspires, questions and extends learning.
Each activity builds on the last one and there is a clear journey towards the learning outcomes. Let’s think about the course steps on the FutureLearn platform as building blocks that can be combined in different ways to create flows of activity that drive engaging learning.
As an example, this course designing for learning we started by posing an overarching big question to encourage you to share your personal experiences. We then introduced constructive alignment as the framework for the week’s topics. Within constructive alignment, we explored learning outcomes, activities and assessment in a clear sequence so that you can not only investigate its concept more in depth, but also grasp the interconnections between them. In addition, when we design, we pay particular attention in linking every step in the course within the previous and subsequent steps using an engaging thread. For example, we include relevant and thought-provoking quotes or we highlight in their connections between ideas.
People learn through social interactions which can provide powerful learning experiences, so I focus on designing opportunities for these social interactions to take place online because online learning can be a lonely process. I work with a team to design each step of the course so that it leads to a task which encourages learners to have meaningful conversations on the content and ideas presented. These tasks are open-ended and allow learners to share and deepen their thinking beyond yes and no responses. When guides are learners to read and benefit from comments and replies from each other and use features such as liking or filtering posts and following other learners with interesting contributions.
After this, they may wish to also post and or reply to other comments. The involvement of educators in these discussions is also vital to inspire learners to participate. The educators might post additional scaffolded questions to open up a new cycle of exploration. It’s also important to recognise that not all learners are comfortable contributing to discussions, however they can still get the benefit of this learning dimension by following the conversation as they are still exposed to different viewpoints. Finally, a course benefits from a good variety of learning activities which can challenge and engage learners. For example, I design activities that support learners to share experiences, work individually, collaborate or join in peer review.
They might also explore concepts, create digital artifacts or solve problems. So now, you know the three fundamental principles that govern my job as a Learning Designer. Can you identify any of these in your course?

Online learning is an example of using the virtual space.

Learning online can be a lonely process – thus mapping a meaningful student learning journey is crucial for successful online engagement and belonging.

Watch the video where learning designer, Vily Papageorgiou, describes how she designs online learning experiences using the FutureLearn platform.

You will hear Vily talk about three key aspects she brings to every online learning experience that she designs:

  • Narrative
  • Social learning
  • A variety of learning activities

Your task

Having watched Vily’s case study, share your thoughts or experiences about her approach and whether this could benefit your students.
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