eLearning Blueprints

What does a successful online course "look" like?

On this page, you will find tried and tested "models" for configuring different tools and enhancing different aspects of your online course. Whether you opt for one of these tried and tested models or choose to innovate your own, we hope that these " Blueprints" will inspire you in the creation of your course and provide you with a clearer idea of how online learning might be managed and enhanced.

Contact your Instructional Designer to implement any of these Blueprints in your course.

While you are thinking about technology integration, you might benefit from viewing our 7 OWL Tool Tips!


Forums Management

The Forums tool is the primary medium for asynchronous Student-Student and Student-Instructor discussions. Forums management is an essential component of a successful online course. Review a helpful Rubric for Asynchronous Discussion Participation here.

Learning Community Model: each student in the course participates in the same conversation.

Learning Circle Model: discussion takes place in smaller groups.

Seminar Model: students take turns leading and moderating course discussions.

Debate Model: students' conversations are centered on an assigned debate topic.

Alternative Models: create discussion spaces, using tools such as blogs or embedded Google Docs.


Synchronous Virtual Classroom (Collaborate)

Collaborate is Western's synchronous virtual classroom tool. The strength of the Collaborate tool is that it allows students and instructors separated by distance to interact and engage with each other in real time. There are several methods for using the Collaborate tool effectively to build student engagement and community within an online course.

Instructor-Led Model: the instructor lectures and facilitates student discussion in a large group.

Breakout Model: the Collaborate session is weighted toward small group discussions in breakout rooms.

Student Presenter Model: students present content, lead and moderate discussions.

Guest Speaker Model: a guest lecturer presents content and facilitates discussion.


Delivering Content

The Lessons tool is one possible medium for delivering course content. Though it is possible to disseminate course readings and clarify expectations without using the Lessons tool (through Syllabus and Resources), crafting dedicated Lessons pages for your content can make the content more engaging and easier to follow.

Scaffold Model: modules or lessons are released over time, rather than all at once.

Collaborative Content Model: students collaborate to create and present lesson content.

Student Expert Model: students take turns teaching concepts/readings to their colleagues.

Alternative Models: create collaborative learning spaces, using tools such as blogs or embedded Google Docs.


Building Student Community

Interactive student spaces are essential for building student engagement and a sense of community among your students. The Forums tool and Collaborate are just two of the tools that can be used to foster student-student interaction within your OWL site. Google Docs and social media can also be used to add an essential community-building component to your online course.

Student Lounge Model: create an informal Forums space for students to interact and build community.

Study Room Model: create student run Collaborate sessions for the purposes of group work.

Team Writing Model: students take turns teaching concepts/readings to their colleagues.

Social Network Model: use social media tools such as Facebook or Twitter to create a student social network.


Library Support Options (Online):

Western's Education Library is available to support students and instructors onsite and online. Our librarian can collaborate with you to build your course, supplement your course curriculum and support your students in their learning. The librarian can take an active role in your course or be available for specific customized services and help as needed. For additional information, please contact Denise Horoky.

Support by Assignment: a librarian visits your course ahead of a major assignment to answer specific questions.

Consultation: a librarian will conduct one-on-one consultations with students as needed.

Support Forum: a librarian will be invited as a guest into your course site to answer student questions through Forum discussion.

Guest Speaker: a librarian will be invited as a guest into your course site to answer student questions during a synchronous session.