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Open e-book reframes key ideas to teaching and learning online

With the University of Windsor’s decision to move courses primarily online in Fall 2020, many instructors are designing their learning material for an environment that may be new to both they and their students.

The Office of Open Learning has developed the first of two open textbooks to offer instructors a path through some key concepts that provide the foundation for learning to teach online.

With feedback from the successful continued offerings of Open Learning’s course “Introduction to Teaching Online,” Dave Cormier and Ashlyne O’Neil have authored 12 Key Ideas: An Introduction to Teaching Online. The book takes a simple approach to the complex work of using the internet to build on the connections of the face-to-face classroom learning environment.

“We’re all learning to do a new thing together, and it’s great to be able to openly share and build on the work we’re doing, as it changes and grows so rapidly right now,” says Cormier, a learning specialist with the Office of Open Learning. “Capturing the process of that work, and that of our colleagues, with an openly licensed e-book that can keep evolving just makes so much sense.”

The e-book, built on the eCampus Ontario Pressbooks platform, is a free, openly licensed resource for instructors to quickly search and find the content they need most, or to click through each idea as a self-paced course for bringing their classes online. The short chapters with multimedia elements and various resources for continued learning make it accessible for even the most time-strapped of instructors.

They include concepts like keeping the material simple, equitable, and engaging, rethinking the idea of teacher presence in an online classroom, and using communication with students as a way to connect them to the course material, to each other, and to their own learning.

As co-author O’Neil, a learning specialist with the Office of Open Learning, reflects: “The transformations aren’t just in course delivery right now. We’re seeing teaching and learning shift in a way that builds on all the expertise of our instructors, and allows us all to think about how we can use the tools of the internet to build a great learning environment for our students.”

Instructors can find the 12 Key Ideas: An Introduction to Teaching Online textbook in the Ontario Open Textbook Library. The second e-book, Practical Digital Course Design, will be released in early summer.

The Open Learning team is continuing to offer the “Introduction to Teaching Online” course through the summer, along with a wide range of other workshops and courses to help instructors explore all the possibilities that online learning and teaching has to offer. Registration is available here: https://ctl2.uwindsor.ca/openlearning/workshops/.

—Alicia Higgison

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