Teaching Online by Design

Teaching Online by Design: Options, Implementations and Opportunities

“Kittens for Preparedness” was printed out and stuck to my office door in March 6, 2020 when it became very clear that this was not going to be business as usual for the semester.

2021 has seen the plague stay around, and with a mixed set of vaccine roll outs, campus closures, lockdowns and reopenings, we’re in a state of flux in the sector.  This, unsurprisingly, is presenting a challenge for the delivery of higher education.  Many academics found themselves scaling the learning curve of Emergency Remote Teaching, hitting a suitable plateau to rest, and then hoping it would all go away at the new year and we’d be back in classrooms.

That’s not entirely how it went, or how it will go.  2020 showed the world that we can do more with online than just stick a VHS / DVD in the player and call it done.  Eventually, the world may decide that face to face is where it’s at – with or without social distancing, masks, hand sanistiers and constantly wiping down the surfaces like we’re Ethan Hawke in Gattaca[1]

The world we have now runs on bi-modal delivery.  Bi-modal is where the experience exists as both an online-by-design, and has a potential component of face to face activity.  For the early 2020s, we’re going to set the decade up as an online-by-design, possibly backed by a number of socially distanced face to face options worked into the mix.  The key is that Online-by-Design means we can reach out to audiences who may not have had access to our face to face capacity. 

A key choice in terminology here is the online-by-design. In March 2020, academia activated the Emergency Remote Teaching Protocol, which was an unplanned pivot from business as usual, to delivery via whatever we could muster as our technology. From 2021 onwards, we can start being much more intentional in our choice of platforms, technologies and supporting systems to create our teaching experiences.


(Stephen.dann@anu.edu.au | @stephendann |

[1] https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119177/ – 1997 gave us a strangely useful field guide for the 2020s