Exploring Innovations in Online Teaching and Learning

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The Online Teaching and Learning (OTL) SIG, an influential special interest group of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), and the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) have maintained a long-standing collaboration to advance the theory and practice of online, blended, and digital learning. Since 2016, the Online Learning Journal (OLJ), OLC’s premier open access journal, has released a special issue to extend opportunities for OTL SIG members to contribute their expertise in online education research. 

Join some of the authors and editors of the December 2023 special issue of the OLJ for a sneak peek into the topics and key findings from the upcoming issue. The articles have been grouped into five main themes:

  1. Measurement and Analysis
  2. Equity, Inclusion, Advocacy, Embodiment
  3. Modality
  4. Openness
  5. Philosophy & Theory

In addition to the special issue from the AERA OTL SIG, the December issue of the Online Learning Journal includes five articles from our regular submission process. These articles cover a broad range of topics including the evolving role of writing centers in support of online learners, humanizing online pedagogy, learner readiness in online and other digital contexts, and an intriguing investigation of online and classroom student outcomes. 

Whether you are an educator, researcher, or leader, this webinar promises to inspire and inform your understanding of the evolving landscape of digital education. You don’t want to miss this opportunity to delve into the latest advancements in online teaching and learning with leading experts in the field!

Speaker Bio


Patrick Lowenthal, Ph.D

Guest Editor and Co-Moderator

Rob Moore, Ph.D.

Guest Editor and Co-Moderator


Crystal D. Howell, Ph.D.

Author: “I sing the body electric”: Embodied presence in the Community of Inquiry framework

Abstract: Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, more K-12 teachers in the United States were teaching online than ever before, particularly in rural and economically distressed communities (US Department of Education, 2011), and since March 2020, nearly every teacher has become, at least for a little while, a virtual teacher. The purpose of this study was to better understand the embodied experiences of women “sojourner” teachers—that is, teachers who move among online, face-to-face, and hybrid teaching spaces (Howell, 2020). Working from a feminist poststructuralist perspective, I gathered qualitative data from four sojourner teachers in the Midwestern and Mid-Atlantic United States. These data revealed participants’ complex, at times fraught relationships with their bodies while teaching online, framing their discussions about what it means to be a good virtual teacher from an embodied perspective. I argue that embodiment is an integral part of the entire act of teaching online and consigning teachers’ embodied experiences to the social presence domain of the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework (Anderson et al., 2001) is detrimental to teaching and learning experiences. Moreover, limiting the scope of embodied presence to a mere aspect of social presence sublimates serious discussion about the interplay of the physical and intellectual labor and, potentially, the real effects embodied identities (including gender and race) have on teachers’ (and students’) experiences in virtual classrooms. I conclude by proposing a revised understanding of embodiment’s place within the CoI framework.

Marc Egloffstein

Author: Course Design Approaches and Behavioral Patterns in Massive Open Online Courses for Professional Learning

Abstract: Despite their growing importance, differential, process-oriented research on Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) for professional learning is scarce. This paper explores learner behavior in Enterprise MOOCs using lag sequential analysis. Data from 13 MOOCs on business and technology-related topics with a total of N = 72,668 active learners were examined. Starting from consistent high-level behavioral patterns, a deeper analysis reveals variations in interaction sequences according to the underlying course design approach. Lecture-oriented, system interaction-oriented and discussion-oriented courses share a set of common patterns, but also differ in various interaction sequences. Results point towards an isolated role of video playbacks across all course clusters, consumerist patterns in lecture-oriented courses, and a positive influence of metacognitively oriented interactions on learning outcomes. Accordingly, initial design recommendations include the integration of interactive instructional elements in videos, promoting learner engagement in lecture-oriented courses, and fostering metacognition. Connecting interaction and achievement data may uncover promising behavior patterns to be supported by the course design. Based on the initial findings, implications for future research and development are discussed.

Florence Martin, Ph.D. and Beth Oyarzun, Ph.D.

Authors: Higher Education Instructor Perception of Helpfulness of Inclusive and Equitable Online Teaching Strategies

Abstract: Online learners are diverse, which reiterates the need for instructors to be inclusive and equitable in online teaching. Inclusion refers to providing opportunities for all learners in the online course, so they can actively participate and feel welcomed and belong in the course. Equity ensures that all learners have fair treatment of the opportunities and resources needed to succeed. In this survey-based research, we developed an Inclusive and Equitable Online Teaching Strategies (IEOTS) instrument with 45 strategies and examined instructor perception of the helpfulness of these strategies. These strategies focused on instructor self-awareness and commitment, know your learners, course design, course facilitation and evaluation. Based on the 478 online instructor survey responses, descriptive statistics showed that the instructors rated the strategies between somewhat helpful and helpful. In the open-ended question, student choice was communicated as an important aspect of the online course being inclusive and equitable. Analysis conducted based on learner (student level), instructor (gender, ethnicity, teaching experience and teaching expertise), course (delivery modality), and organizational differences (required training, collaboration with instructional designer) found that instructor perception was higher for the course design subscale for instructors who taught online asynchronous than online synchronous; know your learner subscale for instructors who taught graduate students than those who taught undergraduate students and between those who attended training for online teaching compared to those who had not. In addition to supporting diverse online students, this study has implications for online instructors, instructional designers, and administrators who provide support to integrate these strategies effectively.