Office of Open Learning expands support for online course development

The Office of Open Learning has launched a greatly expanded program of support for faculty interested in developing online courses, says director Nick Baker. A new workshop series, an intensive two-day Online Course Design Institute, a community of practice, and a non-credit Certificate in Online and Open Learning are all in the works.

“With 50 new faculty being hired, many will likely be developing online courses,” Baker says. “We want to ensure that all our faculty have the support they need to create high-quality learning experiences for their students, especially with the current strong provincial focus on online learning with funding available from eCampus Ontario and MTCU to support online course development.”

He says that for faculty to explore online teaching, they need flexible options to help them discover all the possibilities that online learning offers.

“Just like their students, faculty are busy, and have different needs and preferences for how they learn, so we are trying to provide as many ways as possible for them to get access to the support they want,” Baker says.

Over the next two years, the office plans to offer about 40 new workshops in five categories: Basics of Online Teaching, Beyond the Basics, Advanced Online Pedagogies, Scholarship of Online Teaching and Learning, and Social Media in Education. Faculty are also invited to request sessions on topics of interest. At least one or two workshops will be available each month, and will be offered in different modes from on-campus to fully online.

The Online Course Design Institute runs over two half-days, February 25 and 26. Registration is open to all instructors interested in developing an online course, with the goal for faculty to develop a detailed plan for their course by the end of the Institute. Because of the intensive nature of the program, including working closely with an online learning specialist, this program is limited to 15 participants, but may be offered more often if there is demand.

A new community of practice in online teaching will meet once a month throughout the year as an informal place to share practices and learn more about online course development without having to commit to a course or workshop. A small group pilot-tested the concept last year, and will open it to all interested instructors in 2016.

The new Certificate in Online and Open Learning (COOL), which will officially launch later in 2016, is a non-credit offering that recognizes the commitment of faculty and others who undertake a flexible and sustained program of learning about online teaching pedagogy.

“The COOL will provide individual pathways for instructors and others interested in learning more about online teaching to select from a range of learning options that suit their needs, including online half-courses, workshops, the Course Design Institute, and more,” Baker said.

Upcoming workshops include:

  • 5 February - Easing into e-Assessment: An introduction to building technology supported assessments
  • 11 February - Strategies for Avoiding Radio Silence: Facilitating effective communication in online classes
  • 25 and 26 February – Online Course Design Institute (two half-days)
  • 1 April - Online Inquiry-Based Learning Approaches
  • 27 April - Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Your Online Class

Find out more about these and other opportunities, or register for them online at

For more information about the Office of Open Learning’s support for faculty who want to develop online courses, contact Baker at 519-253-3000, ext. 4925, or e-mail