Week 2: Discovering the connections: principles and theories for understanding digital tools


How do you get started with online teaching? In this week, we will look at some principles that underpin effective online teaching, and how learning theories can inform approaches to teaching. Following this you will be introduced to a categorisation of the technologies used in online teaching. Finally, you will be introduced to the world of learning objects. Pulling all of this together should enable you to start planning what you want to achieve with online teaching.

Teacher reflections

“Hello – I am Dr. Su Myat. I have been a geography lecturer for 23 years, so I am very familiar with the classroom environment! However, I have seen a lot of changes in my students over the years, and their interest in technology has never been higher. I encourage them to use their phones in the classroom to use Google Maps for researching various topics. I also hear younger staff members (especially those involved in the TIDE project!) talking about online materials - it was some of these colleagues that first introduced me to the idea of creating online educational resources.

When I first started creating online learning materials for my own use with my students, I was surprised at the amount of time that it took. Compared to my previous face-to-face teaching experiences, I had to dramatically change the way in which I planned for learning opportunities when taking them online. I quickly realised that the ability that you have in class to change the direction of the lesson and to quickly adapt to the needs of learners didn't exist, so much more thought about the different routes that students could take needed to be considered in advance.

Although this felt a little daunting at first, the benefits for students soon became apparent. They could access the learning at a time, location, and pace appropriate to them as individuals - this really benefitted the students with other time commitments, and also those who were consistently at the bottom end of the grades, as they could take their time to learn.

Creating learning objects can be time consuming initially, but will save you time in the long run. I would recommend for anyone to take their teaching online in this way.”

By the end of this week, you should be able to:

  • understand some of the essential principles of online teaching
  • be aware of some key learning theories and classifications of online teaching technologies
  • understand the concept of learning objects and some of the different classifications of these.

1 Principles of effective online teaching