Online Learning Strategic Framework

Updated April 29, 2020

In response to the growing interest in online learning, the University of Toronto is continuing to expand our exploration and capacity development in this area.

Strategic Framework

The anticipated affordances of online learning include improving flexibility, enhancing learner experience and supporting student success across dimensions such as:

  • Access
    • Geographic – offering flexibility for full time degree program students and convenience for part time
    • Temporal – learning at time and pace preferred by learner with flexible options
  • Program path – addressing student needs such as speeding up or catching up
  • Content – providing varied digital media, interactive activities, learner generated or collaboratively created content
  • Format – exploring synchronous, asynchronous or self-directed modules
  • Instruction and assessment strategies – engaging students in innovative active learning, personalized formative feedback and authentic assessments

Operational Strategy Summary

The University of Toronto is already well-established in the area of technology-based enhancement of traditional classroom courses. We are continuing to expand our capacity for  fully online teaching and hybrid learning by engaging interested faculty members in the effective design and instruction of selected undergraduate courses. Facilitating this engagement has been established as a high priority for the portfolio of Online Learning Strategies within the CIO’s office.

Based on our research and experience in development and delivery of online undergraduate courses, four key areas of investment have been identified as essential to success in this area:

  1. Facilitation of programming/funding initiatives to support course development work
  2. Availability of coaching for faculty in the pedagogy of online teaching and course development as well as the essential technical skills
  3. Extending capacity of instructional design staff and resources to support online course design and implementation
  4. Strategies to ensure quality of online courses

1. Facilitating Funding for Capacity Development

Capacity for priority courses to be supported through OUCI funding targeting re-design for online and hybrid delivery. The objectives established by the Office of the Vice Provost, Innovations in Undergraduate Education are as follows:

  • Increase the range of online learning opportunities* at the University of Toronto
  • Increase the number of students from other universities enrolling in University of Toronto courses for credit transfer
  • Provide flexible options that leverage online technologies to accommodate scheduling constraints while providing a rich learning experience
  • Explore transformative instructional approaches and respond to needs across academic program contexts

*Priority is given to courses that are part of a first entry undergraduate degree program at the University of Toronto

2. Coaching and Professional Learning for Faculty

The range of faculty professional learning strategies is constantly evolving and includes the CTSI course design institute for OUCI course instructors as well as individual coaching, design team consultation, online resources and templates. Faculty development strategies are integrated with the course design process and include ongoing round tables and webinars on topics germane to online instruction.

3. Support for Online Course Development

Provisions for support of redesign to reflect effective online pedagogy include a number strategies. The overarching  goal is to build local support while at the same time developing a network of faculty and instructional technology/librarian support staff who will form a community of practice across divisions.

OUCI funded courses have access to a multi-expert development team:

  • support through CTSI Course Design Institute and regular consultation with the Director, Online Learning Strategies
  • local educational technology professionals available to support the instructional design process
  • faculty liaison librarians

NOTE: The OUCI is currently suspended

4. Quality Assurance

Online course design guidelines have been published on the CTSI web site and will continue to be enhanced through addition of examples and templates specific to the UofT context. As the University of Toronto moves further into this sphere it is critical to maintain our standards for high quality of curriculum design and richness of our students’ educational experience.

A comprehensive pre-launch review of the OUCI-funded courses ensures presentation of content, implementation of assignments and activities, configuration of assessments, student support strategies, library resources, selected online environments and other key logistical components are technically and structurally ready for roll out. Feedback and assistance for the instructor will be provided by course development team.

Data regarding student experience in undergraduate online courses is collected through the University of Toronto online course evaluation system. A set of questions specific to online learning is presented to all students enrolled in fully online undergraduate courses. This data is used to plan student support resources, as well as faculty development initiatives.

Past Projects and Reports: