Taylor Walsh

Return to: ETAP 623 Spring 2019 Section 5933 (Byrne) | Driving Learner Engagement in an Online Environment


About Me

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Hi everyone! My name is Taylor Walsh and I am excited to work with all of you this semester! I am currently taking graduate coursework in an effort to expand my professional horizons. I currently work in the L+D department at Marriott International. Mainly my work concerns managing content on our LMS, but I'm very interested in the development side of things.

In my spare time, I'm an avid reader. I'm currently re-working my way through all of the classics that we read in high school. It's been so interesting to consume them as an adult- I recommend it if you have the time. I also enjoy crafting and playing board games. I love working with my hands and am always on the look out for new hobby to temper down my fidgeting.



My Topic and Purpose

This mini-course will focus on the implementation of strategies to promote self efficacy in an online learning environment. This course will allow participants to practice specific strategies surrounding design & organization, instructional effectiveness, and interactivity to engage students and promote motivation. During each unit, students will construct knowledge by participating in discussions and completing simulated activities. Participants will work collaboratively to identify strategies specific to their online courses that will facilitate high learner engagement and satisfaction.
Topics that will be covered:

  • What is teaching presence?
  • What elements of design and organization are critical to learner engagement strategies?
  • What is the importance of facilitated discussion in an online learning environment?
  • What are important interactive strategies to keep learner motivated and keep them from feeling isolated in an online environment?
  • What does research suggest yield the most significant results regarding cognitive presence in online learners?

Learning Outcomes

• Define teaching presence and map out its sub-categories and their relation to effective online learning.
• Create a list of activities that would promote learner engagement.
• Create an online repository of research regarding online learning engagement analysis and evaluate their conclusions.
• Design a syllabus that demonstrates a clear understanding of the principles of effective online learning design.

Needs Assessment/Analysis of the Learner and Context

1. Instructional Problem

There has been explosive growth in online course registration over the course of the last decade. 6 million students participated in at least one online higher education course in 2016- up a staggering 4.4 million from the 1.6 million registered in 2002 (Allen, Seaman, 2017). Student engagement has been shown to increase learner satisfaction, motivation, performance, and reduce feelings of isolation (Bolliger, Martin, 2018, p. 205). It can be difficult to promote learner engagement in online learning environments. It's important that students feel that they are part of a community and that someone on the other end is paying attention (Bolliger, Martin, 2018, pp. 218-219). Online learning facilitators are sometimes, due to time and budget constraints, made to adapt face-to-face learning and instructional strategies to an online environment without the proper training on the key differences and research. This can set up instructors to face challenges in creating motivated, self-directed learners in an online environment.


2. What is to be Learned

Participants will learn how promote learner engagement and self-efficacy in an online learning environment. Participants will learn about teaching presence, prevalent research, and key information about online learner characteristics. Participants will learn to communicate with students, provide effective feedback, and ultimately increase learner satisfaction and cognition.


3. The Learners

Participants within this course include teachers who facilitate online classes in either a secondary or higher learning institution.


4. Context for Instruction

Participants will complete the components of this mini-course online from a remote location. This course can be completed at will, completing all activities at the participant’s convenience before the set deadlines. Completion of the content will require only a computer and access to the Internet.


5. Exploring the Instructional Problem and Solution

Participants will receive direct practice with participating in an online course as they learn about instructional strategies to promote learner engagement. Participants will learn research-backed strategies for selecting activities, providing effective feedback, and appropriate levels and circumstances for instructor interactions.


6. Goals of this Mini-Course

One goal of this course is to improve the teaching presence of instructors working in online environments. Goals also include increasing learner satisfaction, retention, and increasing levels of cognitive presence within learners.



Performance-Based Objectives

1) The participant will identify where they can locate the latest research regarding community building in an online learning environment and provide a high level synthesis of the trends evident in that research.
2) The participant will build a syllabus (either for an existing course or a hypothetical one) using the design principles proven to engage learners in online environments. Learner will explain their choices and cite specific research that led them to these choices.
4) The participant will self-assess the quality of their discussion contributions so far and describe how they might facilitate discourse in their own course.
5) The participant will create a list of research-based activities to promote learner engagement and discuss choices with group to refine and improve those ideas.
6) The participant will create a job aid on how to use a web 2.0 tool that could be used in their teaching practice.


Task Analysis

Unit 1:

  • Enabling Goal: Learner will identify where they can locate the latest research regarding community building in an online learning environment and provide a high level synthesis of the trends evident in that research.
  • Lesson: Where can you find research about the community of inquiry? What does it tell you?
  • Knowledge: Definition of the Community of Inquiry Framework and it’s 3 presences; familiarity with how to search using the database.
  • Attitudes: Choose to stay current with educational trends in a rapidly developing field.
  • Interpersonal Skills: Collaborate with other learners to put together a comprehensive repository that addresses many different aspects of the CoI framework.
  • Skills: Use the databases available to you and effectively search; summarize major trends logically and clearly; collaborate effectively with peers to identify major themes and take-aways.

Unit 2:

  • Enabling Goal: Learner will build a syllabus (either for an existing course or a hypothetical one) using the design principles proven to engage learners in online environments. Learner will explain their choices and cite specific research that led them to these choices.
  • Lesson: How do you design effective and engaging online learning environments?
  • Knowledge: Recommended design strategies for online asynchronous learning environments; tasks associates with course design.
  • Attitudes: Choose to provide learners with a quality learning experience by making thoughtful content, activity, and assessment selections and laying out content in logical and concise way.
  • Interpersonal Skills: Collaborate with other learners to identify the most important design principles; use discourse to refine your understanding of the differences between designing for online-only and face-to-face learning.
  • Skills: Use the databases available to you and effectively search; think critically about your current teaching practice; write a syllabus that includes research-backed design principles for engagement.

Unit 3:

  • Enabling Goal: Learner will self-assess the quality of their discussion contributions so far and describe how they might facilitate discourse in their own course.
  • Lesson: How do you effectively facilitate discourse in an online-only learning environment? What instructional activities are important for keeping learners engaged long term?
  • Knowledge: Recommended instructor-to-learner interactions both inside and outside of the discussion board; importance of discourse to the CoI according to research; metacognitive awareness of your own participation.
  • Attitudes: Choose to put learners at the forefront by giving prompt and detailed feedback; commitment to making learners aware of your investment by communicating often and over different mediums; critically consider if you are participating in this course as effectively as you would want a learner to participate in your own course.
  • Interpersonal Skills: Work with peers to collaboratively reach conclusions about the best methods for fostering sustained engagement based on both research and personal experiences. Critically consider the opinions of peers with an open mind and contribute meaningfully to the discussion.
  • Skills: Assess the quality of your own participation; use the repository effectively.

Unit 4:

  • Enabling Goal: Learner will create a list of research-based activities to promote learner engagement. Discuss choices with group and refine and improve selections based on feedback. Learner will create a job aid on how to use a web 2.0 tool that could be used for one of the aforementioned activities.
  • Lesson: What active learning activities can be used to drive engagement? What web 2.0 technologies and tools can be used to build a sense of community and interactivity?
  • Knowledge: What are Web 2.0 tools; what is active learning; how to align technology and activities with instructional goals.
  • Attitudes: Make a commitment to using technology to support and enable instructional goals. Choose to research effective active learning strategies.
  • Interpersonal Skills: Work with peers to collaboratively create job aids for Web 2.0 technologies that would support the activities you discussed. When discussing potential activities for your upcoming or hypothetical course, provide constructive feedback to peers describing how an activity either aligns or could be improved to support intended instructional goals.
  • Skills: Select activities that align with goals; use technology; build just-in-time aids for future technology use.

Pedagogical Approach

Unit 1 - Connectivist Learners will put together a repository of research articles that they will reference throughout the course. Learners will become comfortable locating this research and understand where to look when they have a need.

Unit 2-4 - Constructivist Learners will participate in discussion and refine their understanding of the concepts in the discussion board. They will participate in active learning activities to utilize these concepts and then reflect on their learning via the reflection blog.

Curriculum Map

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References and Resources


Allen, I.E. & Searman, J (2017). Digital learning compass: Distance education enrollment report 2017. Babson Survey Research Group, e-Literate, and WCET.
Martin, F., & Bolliger, D. U. (2018). Engagement Matters: Student Perceptions on the Importance of Engagement Strategies in the Online Learning Environment. Online Learning, 22(1). doi:10.24059/olj.v22i1.1092