Master of Education in Distance Education (MDDE) 621

Online Teaching in Distance Education and Training

Course cover

Delivery Mode: Group Study (with eTextbook)

Credits: 3

Prerequisite: None.

Availability: Spring Term Only

Note: MEd program students must complete Mdde601 & Mdde602 prior to all other courses
Early access to the Moodle Learning Management System begins a few days before the official start date of your course. At that time you will have limited course access.


MDDE 621, Online Teaching in Distance Education and Training, presents fundamental concepts, basic principles, background information, and models for the successful use of technology in distance education and training programs intended for various learners. The term "online" in this course refers primarily to computer-based communications tools, but also includes the more familiar "low-tech" options.

Topics addressed in the course include the following:

  • learning principles and learner characteristics, including 'special' learning needs;
  • teaching behaviours and principles associated with learning, independent of the delivery medium;
  • organizational roles required by technology use, which distance learning teachers, trainers and administrators may be expected to fill;
  • professional development (PD) issues in online teaching and training;
  • characteristics (strengths and weaknesses) of some available and emerging learning technologies; and,
  • assessment and evaluation principles.

Students need not be experienced teachers or trainers, but should have a basic familiarity with computer technology applications in distance learning environments (for example, through completion of MDDE610 or MDDE620, or equivalents), or have direct experience working or learning with technology.

Course Goals

The course is designed to achieve the following goals.

  • Identify principles and issues fundamental to supporting learning at a distance, and relate these to the concept of online teaching.
  • Analyse technologies available in distance education and training contexts, and identify important features and capabilities of these, supportive of learning at a distance.
  • Focusing on online tools (defined as those that support ready interaction), identify the capabilities, demands, and limitations of tools for distance applications.
  • Review models of cost-benefit and return on investment (ROI) analysis; develop a model for each that applies to implementation of distance education/training technology.
  • Consider fundamental professional development (PD) issues for online teachers, trainers and managers.
  • Summarize characteristics of successful implementations of online teaching and learner support.
  • Distinguish the instruction and support needs of learners of various backgrounds, and in various learning/training situations, and relate these to the planning process.
  • Develop, identify or adapt a model for formative and summative evaluation of online learning.
  • Apply some of the online learning models identified with real or hypothetical situations, and report and analyze the results in a manner that would guide decision-making.

Course Outline

The course is composed of nine units:

  1. Elements of online teaching and learning;
  2. Learning theories and principles;
  3. Teaching theories and principles;
  4. Professional development (PD) for online teachers and trainers;
  5. Online technologies: print, audio, and video;
  6. Computer-based technologies;
  7. The Internet;
  8. Computer-mediated communication (CMC); and,
  9. Assessment and evaluation.

Learning Resources


Registration in this course includes an electronic textbook. For more information on electronic textbooks, please refer to our eText Initiative site.

Vaughan, N. D., Cleveland-Innes, M. & Garrison, D. R. (2013). Teaching in Blended Learning Environments: Creating and Sustaining Communities of Inquiry.

Other Materials

Online Study Guide, Online Readings

Student Assessment

Students are assessed on the bases of two assignments and course participation.

Course requirements are as follows:

Activity Weight
Online participation
Online participation in the form of computer conference participation, or reading summary.
20 Marks
Assignments of choice
The student completes assignments of choice, selected from a list of topics provided by the instructor. One assignment may, with the instructor's consent, be developed from the student's own interests.
80 Marks

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.