Virtual School Meanderings

January 12, 2009

Teaching And Learning Online

Okay, about a month ago I posted a message about several teacher education courses and/or programs that were focused upon K-12 online learning in the United States and Canada (see Teacher Education and K-12 Online Learning).  At the time I promised a more in depth post on the only Canadian course that I knew of:

On the Canadian front, the only course that I am aware of that focuses upon K-12 online learning is a course entitled Teaching and Learning Online that is taught by Geoff Roulet at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.  Geoff has been good enough to send me additional information about his course, and I’ll post a separate entry in the next day or two about this course.

And while these days it seems that it takes me a while to get around to following up on these entries, I eventually get around to them.

In my conversations with Geoff, he indicated:

“When the course was first initiated in 2006 I did check the calendars of all the other faculties of education in Ontario.  Some do offer a course focusing on applications of ICT in teaching and learning, but I could not find any others that had a focus on online education.”

And I have no reason to believe otherwise.  I would go a step further and say that while there are a number of courses and even programs that focus upon distance education or online learning, that none are specifically focused upon K-12 distance education or K-12 online learning.  The closest that I can think of, may be a Diploma in Telelearning and Rural School Teaching that was offered by the Faculty of Education at Memorial University of Newfoundland from around 2000-01 until at least 2003-04 – however, a view of the current calendar indicates that the program is no longer on the books (I’ll post another entry last this week that looks at this lost program).

Anyway, Geoff introduces the course (via his syllabus) in this manner:

The use of the Internet/Web within education is increasing, both as a means of delivering full courses online and by  teachers to supplement regular classroom activities.  In Ontario the Ministry of Education through e-Learning Ontario  ( during the 2008-09 academic year will provide 27 online credit courses that may be  accessed by any school board in the province.  In parallel activities, individual school boards and consortia of boards  (see the Ontario Virtual Academy, are mounting their own online programs.  This is not  just an Ontario initiative.  Other provinces and countries are providing secondary and elementary school programs  online (see: Newfoundland & Labrador Centre for Distance Learning and Innovation (, the Arizona Virtual Academy (, and Insight Schools (

Within regular physical schools, teachers are making use of the Web to supplement classroom instruction.  For more  than a decade, beginning in the early 1990s Canada’s SchoolNet helped to connect Canada’s schools and  communities to the Internet, provided incentives for online learning and published Web-based content and activities for all grade levels.  Learning objects for all grades and subjects are becoming freely accessible via the Web (See the Math-Tools site at:  The Ontario Ministry of Education, through the Ontario Educational Resource Bank, is providing access to online content linked to the province’s school curriculum (  Teachers can employ these resources within their lessons by using school computer labs or single classroom computers and projection units.  In addition, teachers can assemble learning objects on course websites and thus make these resources available beyond class time.

The development and delivery of school programs have become significant economic enterprises.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Learning Technology (, an American corporation, delivers its programs to more than 45,000 schools in over 20 countries, including publicly funded elementary schools in Ontario.

Increasingly sophisticated software is making it easier for teachers to construct learning objects and websites. Innovative teachers are developing course sites that provide online assistance to students beyond regular class time and allow pupils to publicly display the products of their learning (See the student art gallery at Moira Secondary School in Belleville:  Schools and teachers are using wikis, and blogs to provide information to students, parents and the community at large (See Ms. Zwart’s Math Page a wiki hosted by Wetpaint:, belonging to Jodie Zwart a teacher at Glebe Collegiate Institute in Ottawa)

With these developments in mind the Faculty of Education introduced this course beginning in the 2006-07 academic year.  This is the third year for FOCI 291.  Thus it is still relatively new and this, along with the ever changing nature of the Web, means that the course is to some extent an experiment and in development.

The aims or objectives of the course are:

  • to critically examine present and proposed uses of the Internet/Web in teaching and learning
  • to collaboratively construct images of what effective online learning could be
  • for each class member, to increase understanding and skills related to the development, presentation, and delivery of online content and learning resources

In looking at the assignments, there is a good mix of opportunities to get involved with and experience K-12 online learning (via an alternate practicum), to speculate about the benefits and challenges of K-12 online learning, and to build an online resource that students could use in an online or blended format in their own teaching.

I understand that the course is due to be taught again during the Winter 2009 semester, and I would welcome Geoff (or any of his students) to draft a guest blogger entry about how things are going in the course and I would be happy to post it here.

<soapbox>Also, if any students at Queen’s are reading this blog, I would highly recommend this course as I think it would be very useful for you’re future teaching careers even if you never teaching in a K-12 online learning program.  Understanding the nature of this method of delivery and being able to support those students at your school who may be engaged in someone else’s online learning program will only help to serve these students better than if you had no concept of what they were doing.  Also, many of the skills and tools related to K-12 online learning can also be used as technology integration projects in your own face-to-face classes, giving you the potential to extend your classroom beyond the confines of the walls of the school.</soapbox>


  1. As a Dad of a high school student in online high school, it is apparent that additional training for classroom teachers is a must in their transition to online teaching. Thanks, I can see that this is a great resource.

    Comment by Ed (online school Dad) — September 9, 2009 @ 11:32 am | Reply

  2. Thanks for the comments Ed. I agree that there needs to be movement and there are some universities that are moving more quickly in this direction than others.

    Comment by mkbnl — September 9, 2009 @ 1:17 pm | Reply

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  5. […] Dr. Roulet, over the past five years he has been responsible for teaching a course entitled, “Teaching and Learning Online” (which was described in one of the brief issue papers in the fourth annual “State of […]

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  6. […] Dr. Roulet, over the past five years he has been responsible for teaching a course entitled, “Teaching and Learning Online” (which was described in one of the brief issue papers in the fourth annual “State of […]

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