Change is our constant

The sands are shifting beneath us. The learning environment is in a state of rapid and profound change. This is the world we are entering.

Dr. Marti Cleveland-Innes of Athabasca University referenced many triggers for this change ranging from cost, to technology, to student demographics and expectations. In the midst of this, digital learning can be both a catalyst and a tool with which instructional designers can use to adapt to this new world.

Cleveland-Innis noted that the elements of technology, quality of instruction and student expectations “cluster fairly well together (Cleveland-Innis, 2019).” Technology can be a natural fit to deliver high quality instruction and satisfy student expectations.

It some ways it’s an unlikely saviour. In his Tuesday talk, Dr. Tony Bates referenced a Huffington Post article by Kevin Carey, director of the education policy program at New America. Carey looks at the origin of online learning some twenty years ago as a less than auspicious debut. He refers to some of the early digital learning as “jumped-up correspondence courses offered by for-profit colleges out to make a quick buck, and they were particularly ineffective for low-income students (Carey, 2019).” Ouch.

I think that all of us in this program believe that online learning has achieved a higher level of legitimacy. That’s why we’re here, isn’t it?

But how can digital instruction meet the challenges of this new landscape. Or as Dr Marti Cleveland Innes asked, “What does quality of instruction mean in the middle of an information explosion?(Cleveland-Innis, 2019)”

That is our question to be answered over the next two years. How can digital learning make meaningful connections, and create vibrant learning communities in an online landscape?

Dr. Tony Bates raised some of the key challenges/goals of online learning: teaching critical thinking and tackling that need for one-to-one feedback, coaching and mentoring.

It’s not that the current classroom model is particularly adept at achieving these goals, but that there is a demand for something better. It’s our job to fill that demand.

With some innovative and deep thought put into online course design, we can create learning environments that will not only meet but outperform the traditional classroom model. Signs of this are easily seen by reading the Padlet presentations by MALAT second years. I was intrigued by the many different ideas and theses, particularly the adaptation of online learning models for learners with autism spectrum disorder, and those with PTSD.

Dr. Marti Cleveland-Innes referenced Margaret Burkle in recognizing the importance of changing demographics and our evolving world. So our students are continually changing. Our world is continuously changing. It only makes sense that we should too.

Cleveland-Innes, M. (2019). The role of ID in Higher Education Reform [Video file]. Retrieved from

Bates, T. (2019), Surprise! [Video file]. Retrieved from

Carey, K. (2019, April 01). The Creeping Capitalist Takeover of Higher Education. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *