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#EDUC90970 An Online Subject Proposal

Hello again,

This week in #EDUC90970 Facilitating Online Learning we completed our second assessment. This assessment was an online subject proposal that we presented live on Zoom using Adobe Spark. This assessment was very authentic, both in its design and use of supporting technologies. This assessment allowed us to engage in authentic e-learning as students (Herrington, Reeves, & Oliver, 2009). It required us to apply learning theory, design frameworks, and online technologies, to our unique higher education teaching contexts. Importantly, we were given an opportunity to design an online subject that we could implement in the real-world.

This was my first experience (both as a student and teacher) in a graded oral assessment presented live via Zoom. This worked quite well, and was also engaging as an observer. In the future, perhaps the class could be split into two or three separate presentation groups to reduce the time burden. This may also allow for longer presentations and/or live questions. Recording the presentations would mean that students could still observe and engage with the other presentations in their own time.

Although there was a learning curve using Adobe Spark initially, this experience has been hugely beneficial. This was my first time ever not using PowerPoint (!!!) as my presentation tool. I had never noticed/reflected on this before taking part in #EDUC90970. After this discussion and reflection, it is now unclear to me why PowerPoint dominates higher education teaching and learning when it is static and teacher-centric. I was impressed with Adobe Spark’s visual design and potential for live interaction and engagement. I am planning to trial Adobe Spark in a lecture/workshop I am presenting next week to fourth-year psychology honours students.  

Here is my Adobe Spark presentation for my subject proposal –

This assessment aligned really well with my current teaching context, as this year we received a successful Learning and Teaching Initiative to translate our two core first-year psychology subjects online; Mind, Brain and Behaviour 1 and 2. The online core subjects will be equivalent to, but separate from, the face-to-face subjects. These subjects will have identical learning outcomes and objectives, but new subjects would achieve this in a purposefully designed, wholly online learning environment. We are anticipating up to 1000 enrollments per semester.

When creating my subject proposal, based on first-year psychology, I first considered the learner context. The learner cohort will be incredibly diverse, as these subjects can be taken at both graduate and post-graduate year levels, and across disciplines as a Breadth subject. The diverse learner context was a strength I wanted to draw upon, and support, in the design of this subject.

The online Community of Inquiry has really resonated me this semester, and I felt this would be a great framework to draw upon in my subject design (Garrison, 2007; Tolu, 2013). I describe this framework in detail here. I wanted to create a subject (i.e., establish teaching presence) that promoted a strong social presence (i.e., learners have a personal identity online, and strong and purposeful academic connections that unite them with their peers), and cognitive presence (i.e., promoting collaborative online learning through reflection and productive discourse).

To establish teaching presence, I was then drawn to Diana Laurillard’s (2002; 2012) Conversational Framework to “design for learning”. This framework is grounded in learning theory and offers practical application (Bower & Vlachopoulos, 2018). Importantly, this design framework promotes learner-centred collaborative learning. This occurs via communication (i.e., acquisition, inquiry, and discussion) and practice (i.e., production and collaboration) dialogues or cycles between learners, their teachers, and peers. (See Figure 1.) If you interested in trying out this framework, there is a free online tool created by Laurillard and her team to help design online teaching and learning:

Figure 1. The conversational Framework. Adapted from Laurillard (2012).

To create my learner-centric ecology of resources, I integrated Luckin’s (2008) learner-centric ecology of resources and Laurillard’s (2002; 2012) conversation framework. (See Figure 2).

Figure 2. Designing a Learner-centric Ecology of Resources using the Conversational Framework.

For detailed background on the learner-centric ecology of resources please see my previous blog post here. I conceptualised Vygotsky’s (1978) zone of proximal development (ZPD), upon which the Luckin’s (2008) framework is based, as the learning outcomes of the online subject. The high diversity in our online subject will allow peers to scaffold each other’s learning, together with teachers, and online tools and technologies. The zone of available assistance (ZAA) represents all the learning activities and technologies, available in our subject’s ecology of resources. The zone of proximal adjustment (ZPA) reflects the learning activities and technologies that enable each learning cycle in the conversation framework (i.e., teacher communication cycle, peer communication cycle, teacher practice/modelling cycle, and peer modelling cycle). I used this integrated model to choose the learning activities and technologies/online tools in the proposed ecology of resources in Figure 3. I would very interested to receive feedback/thoughts on the integration and application of these two theories.

Figure 3. The proposed learner-centric ecology of resources. All the resources picture represent the zone of available assistance. Each circle represents a zone of proximal adjustment. These resources will enable each learning cycle proposed by the conversation framework.

I look forward to putting these ideas into practice in the third and final assessment for #EDUC90970 Facilitating Online Learning. In this assessment I will present a prototype of this online subject. Please let me know any thoughts and feedback on my subject proposal – chat soon!


Bower, M, & Vlachopoulos, P. (2018). A critical analysis of technology-enhanced learning design frameworks. British Journal of Educational Technology, 49(6), 981-997. doi: 10.1111/bjet.12668

Garrison, D. R. (2007). Online community of inquiry review: Social, cognitive, and teaching presence issues. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 11(1), 61-72. doi: 10.24059/olj.v11i1.1737

Herrington, J., Reeves, T. C., & Oliver, R. (2009). A practical guide to authentic e-learning. Routledge.

Luckin, R. (2008). The learner-centric ecology of resources: A framework for using technology to scaffold learning. Computers & Education, 50(2), 449-462. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2007.09.018

Laurillard, D. (2002). Rethinking University Teaching: A Conversational Framework for the Effective Use of Learning Technologies (2nd ed.). London: Routledge Falmer.

Laurillard, D. (2012). Teaching as a Design Science: Building Pedagogical Patterns for Learning and Technology. New York and London: Routledge

Tolu, A. T. (2013). Creating effective communities of inquiry in online courses. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 70, 1049-1055. doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.01.157

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). The Mind in society. Development of Higher Psychological Processes. In M. Cole, V. John-Steiner, S. Scribner, & E. Souberman (Eds.). USA: Harvard University Press.


2 thoughts on “#EDUC90970 An Online Subject Proposal

  1. Hi Caitlyn,

    Thanks for another great blog post, and I also really liked your presentation for Assessment 2. I thought you clearly explained how you were incorporating different elements from what we’ve learnt in this Facilitating Online Teaching subject into your own subject and I look forward to your presentation for Assessment 3.


    Liked by 1 person

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