Research-to-practice models

Five-Stage Model for Online Learning

The 5-stage model (Figure 1) is a researched and tested model that help your teaching and learning through online networking. The model was developed in the 1990s by Prof Gilly Salmon through her work at the UK Open University with tutorial groups where members communicated through asynchronous bulletin boards based on FirstClass conferencing software. The model, with examples of its application, was published in E-moderating (Salmon 2000, 2004).  


Stage 1 (at the base of the flight of steps) includes individuals’ essential prerequisites for effective participation: access and the ability to benefit from remote group work for learning. Stage 2 involves individuals establishing a personal online identity and then finding others with whom to interact. At Stage 3, participants give and receive relevant and useful information about the course, and undertake course-related learning tasks. Up to and including Stage 3, a form of co-operation occurs through support by other participants for each person’s goals. At Stage 4, more complex constructive tasks are possible, discussions occur and the interaction becomes more collaborative. At Stage 5, participants look for more benefits from the system; they want help in achieving their own goals, in exploring how to integrate their online experiences into other forms of learning and in transferring and applying their learning. At this stage sophisticated individual learning may occur that includes reflection on and transfer of knowledge.

Each stage requires participants to master technical skills, shown at the bottom left of each step. Each stage calls for different human intervention skills (e-moderating), shown at right top of each step. The ‘interactivity bar’ running vertically along the right of the flight of steps suggests the intensity of interactivity that can be expected between the participants at each stage. At stage 1, individuals interact only with one or two others. After Stage 2, the number of those with whom they interact – and the frequency of these interactions – gradually increases. In Stage 5 they often return to more individual learning pursuits.

Five stage model for learning in 3-D multi user virtual environments




Our studies show that using a structured model for scaffolding learning in groups has value in 3-D MUVEs such as SL as well as in text-based asynchronous environments, to ensure that for learners, and teachers, confidence in the environment and in each other builds up in a productive way.  The basic structure appears to hold good, but the potential at each stage is slightly different.

There is no need to separate the activities that support learning to benefit from using the technological platform from those needed to undertake course-related tasks and establishing a constructive learning group.  Of course, at present SL is more alien to some participants than bulletin boards are, and they need support and practice. This is an echo for many of us of how it was in the early days of bulletin boards! The key aim for SL- moderators should be to enable each student to become comfortable in his or her avatar’s identity and ‘at home’ in the SL environment. Then the participants will learn to relate well and early with each other through their avatars. We noted that this is somewhat easier in SL and occurs more naturally through experience of interaction, once basic skills are acquired, than through asynchronous bulletin boards. However, learning designers should avoid missing out on the critical ‘online socialisation’ stage – it provides the building blocks in the scaffold for much more group learning later on.

Podcasting for Learning

Here we present a 10-factor design model as a guide for developing podcasting to support student learning. The model guides you through the process of developing your own educational podcasts and offers you the options for your own teaching and learning challenges.

Each factor in the model underlies and leads to a design step. The design model is grounded in our research and emerged from in-depth data analysis in the IMPALA research study. We hope you will explore it and use it as you design and develop your podcasts.

Carpe Diem Model: Designing for Learning



Carpe Diem is a well-researched, well-rehearsed team-based model for promoting change in learner-centred e-learning design and assessment, institutional capacity building and innovation.

At the heart of Carpe Diem is a two-day workshop in which discipline-specific course teams, in collaboration with subject librarians and learning technologists, plan, implement and review student-centred e-learning designs, focusing on learner activity, group work and assessment for learning. By the end of the second day, course teams have a blueprint and storyboard for their course, a set of peer-reviewed online learning activities (or e-tivities) running on their institutional virtual learning environment (VLE), a transferable model for e-tivity design and a practical action plan.

The Carpe Diem process comprises:

    •    A pre-workshop meeting for motivation and preparation. Our facilitator will meet with core members of the course team to clarify the aims of the course they intend to design for, explore what material already exists and what ideas the course team have agreed on.

    •    The two-day Carpe Diem workshop: The practical workshop involves a small course team in a single discipline (4 to 20 participants), a subject librarian and a learning technologist. The workshop takes place on two consecutive days, normally from 10 to 4.30. All team members must attend on both days. The workshop is run in a computer lab. At the University of Leicester, they are hosted by the Media Zoo.

    •    Follow-up meeting to review the latest state of the online course with the course team, and fine-tune the work done at and since the workshop. This normally takes between half a day and one day. It is conducted in a computer room.

Much more information can be found on the Carpe Diem website.




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