Essential Resources for Educators of Online and Blended Courses

back-to-school_imageIt’s that time of year when educators seek fresh ideas and strategies to create meaningful learning experiences for their students. I too have plans for the upcoming school-year; one of my goals is to create a robust selection of useful resources accessible here on Online Learning Insights. This resource bank will be a list of links by topic targeted to professors, instructors and instructional designers looking for ideas, inspiration and/or skill development specific to online or blended learning and instruction. The resources are carefully selected; I’ve included only those that I refer to consistently, are of high-quality and support knowledge and skill development.

This post [part I] is the beginning of the resource section—it will grow over time. If you have ideas for additional topics, or would like to suggest a resource, please do so by adding a comment to this post.

I. Skills for Teaching Online [Introductory]

Though there are a plethora of available resources specific to skill development for teaching online, I’ve chosen resources to share here that are targeted to educators that are in the developmental phase of teaching blended or online courses.

1. Shifting from a face-to-face setting to an online classroom requires not only a different skill set, by a different mindset. Georgian College’s Center for Teaching and Learning site includes excellent information on online and blended teaching skills for the novice instructor including this article—Key Shifts in Thinking for Online Learning. It’s a good starting point for instructors moving from face-to-face to the online classroom.

2. The most comprehensive resource for teaching online [in my opinion] is the COFA series, Learning to Teach Online produced with University of New South Wales (UNSW).  The program features a series of videos [maximum of six minutes each] available on Youtube. The primary objective of the program is for viewers to gain an understanding of successful online teaching pedagogies. One of the twenty-five videos in the series is  Planning your Online Class which explores the key elements educators need to consider when planning an online or blended class.

3. Teaching presence in the online environment occurs when students feel that the instructor is ‘there’. Though online presence sounds vague, it’s instrumental in supporting meaningful learning. This slideshare Understanding Teaching Presence Online provides an overview of how to establish presence and outlines why it’s essential.

4. Thanks to University of Minnesota State Colleges for this excellent mini-course on how to teach online, Getting Started Online, Advantages, Disadvantages and How to Begin. Open to anyone—this resource is applicable to novice and experienced educators.

II.  Using Rubrics for Effective Instruction and Course Design

1. Chico University created this site for instructors and designers of online courses with the concept of the Rubric for Online Instruction (ROI).  It includes excellent tools for educators wanting to evaluate their own online courses and can be used for course redesign. Though it is geared to faculty teaching within a higher education setting, it can be adapted to other environments.

The Rubric for Online Instruction (ROI) is a tool that can be used to create or evaluate the design of a fully online or blended course.  The rubric is designed to answer the question, “What does high-quality online instruction look like?”

2.  University of West Georgia created a webpage specific to rubrics and included resources about online instruction for faculty including the Five Star Rubric for Online Instruction.

3. This slideshare presentation, Rubrics for College – The Easy Steps Way,  provides a good overview of rubrics that instructors can create for students—tools that provide clarity and guidelines for student assignments and assessments. The presentation covers the why, and the how of rubric implementation applicable to face-to-face and online environments.  More resources specific to student rubrics to follow.

III. Blended Learning and Teaching [Introductory]

Blended Learning Panel @richardgorrie et al [v...

Blended Learning (Photo credit: giulia.forsythe)

Blended learning has several definitions, though overall the idea is that a portion of the face-to-face class time is augmented or replaced by online instruction. In most cases it involves reduced class time, but not always. Results from numerous studies show an increase in student performance with the blended format, more so when the curriculum is adapted and modified to maximize each instructional method.

1. The Clayton Christen Institute gives an overview of the blended model for K-12 and higher education on its site in a section dedicated to defining Blended Learning. The pages include links to several research reports on Blended Learning specific to K-12.

2. This resource, the mother-of-all resources on blended learning from EDUCAUSE, is a comprehensive tool that provides links to numerous research reports on blended learning outcomes as well as how-to tools for educators wanting to implement their own blended learning programs.  The Blended Learning Toolkit: Improving Student Performance and Retention also includes the Blended Learning Toolkit, a how-to resource provided by the University of Central Florida, is an open educational resource licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike license.

3.  Georgian College is one of several higher education institutions implementing the blended model. The schools’ site provides an overview of the pedagogy associated with blended learning, and compares it to online and face-to-face instruction – Blended Online/Face-to-face Courses.  Purdue University, another school recently implementing  blended courses across campus, has a web page designed for its faculty, though it still offers helpful insights for educators of any institution.

I’ve only just started sharing the many resources that I’ve collected, and in my next post, I’ll share resources on fostering discussion in online environments, learning theory—exploring how people learn, and finally, the pedagogy of MOOCs.

The second post featuring resources for online instructors is available here.

8 thoughts on “Essential Resources for Educators of Online and Blended Courses

  1. Dr. Kelvin Thompson

    Hi Debbie:
    Regarding your item 2 above (Blended Learning Toolkit), it appears that you have one malformed link, but actually the following two links would be better to use:
    The actual Blended Learning Toolkit is at (or if you prefer). But easy access to the BlendKit Course sub-site with all of the hands-on, DIY assistance and faculty development resources is at:

    Hope that helps you and your readers. 🙂



  2. Andrew Beaty

    Thanks once again for your great ideas and for sharing the resources that you discover! The instructors I work with really appreciate your blogs as I forward them on (and encourage them to sigh up themselves).

    We are using the book “Creating a Sense of Presence in Online Teaching” by Rosemary Lehman and Simone Conceicao as part of our new online faculty training. The authors do an excellent job of explaining the need for instructor presence in the class. Our instructors really like this book and we often hear about it as we interact with them throughout their training and mentoring phases at our school.


    1. Debbie Morrison Post author

      HI Andrew,
      It’s so great to hear from you again! I am pleased that you have found the posts on resources helpful! My reason for blogging is to help instructors teach students online more effectively, so hearing that readers find value in the posts is rewarding.

      I’m currently working on a book about instructional design, “Course Design for the Digital Age: How to Design Relevant, Engaging Online and Blended Courses” so stay tuned!

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. Debbie


  3. D.A. Hadfield

    Debbie, this was a great collection of resources–thank you for taking the time to put them together. I am about to be doing some orientation for online teaching, and will share some of them with the instructors then. But I’m also trying to gather some pedagogical resources to support our online course designers and instructors, and many of these will be very useful for that. Always enjoy reading your blog–keep up the good work.


    1. Debbie Morrison Post author

      HI! So glad you found something of value here! Thanks for your feedback, I will include a section on resources on pedagogy for course designers soon. Great idea and thanks for reading! Debbie



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