Learning to Teach Online is an open educational resource available to anyone with an interest in designing high quality online teaching and learning experiences for K-12 students. It is a self-paced course, designed to meet the needs of preservice teachers in Ontario, Canada and particularly those enrolled in the Bachelor of Education program at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Education where (we) the authors, Dr. Michelle Schira Hagerman and Dr. Hugh Kellam — teach.

We understand that online teaching and learning take many forms today. However, to be clear, we assume that all online learning depends, in some way, on the Internet and requires teachers and learners to use digital devices (e.g., a tablet computer, a smart phone, a laptop), and digital tools (e.g., learning management systems, online search engines, email, videoconferencing platforms) to connect with one another, to publish content, to access content, to make meaning from digital texts and materials, and to participate in course activities.

We understand that in some contexts, online learning may be completely asynchronous so that learners can progress at their own pace, without having to meet or be online at certain times of day. In other contexts, online learning may include a combination of face-to-face (bricks-and-mortar classroom) and online elements that are sometimes referred to as “hybrid” learning models. In some contexts, there are combinations of asynchronous and synchronous online exchanges that allow learners and teachers to meet over videoconferencing platforms to have live exchanges in real time.

In the design of this online course, we have focused mostly on preparing preservice K-12 teachers to design integrated sets of learning activities (e.g., modules, or units of study) using findings and implications from rigorous research and theories of learning and that integrate both asynchronous and synchronous elements. A parallel focus is on preparing new teachers to design learning environments that support children and teens socially, culturally and emotionally. Indeed, we take the view that teaching and learning are social activities (Vygotsky, 1978), situated in communities, cultures and places (Heath, 1983). We also leverage the work of Noddings (2012) to emphasize the importance of the ethic of care in teaching online as a fundamental principle from which to begin. In the construction of this course (which will continue to evolve over time) we take the view that online learning can be effective for children and teens but that the design of online learning — particularly during a global pandemic — must include complex social, emotional, contextual, pedagogical, disciplinary and technological considerations (cf., Barbour & Labonte, 2019; Mishra & Koehler, 2006; Zheng, Lin & Kwon, 2020). We do not view online learning as an add-on to current systems of schooling. Rather, online learning requires us to rethink and reconfigure teaching and learning ecologies (Mishra, 2020; Postman, 1998).

Importantly, and given the context in which we are developing this course, we address and prepare new teachers to know and adopt the Professional Ethics and Standards of Practice established by the Ontario College of Teachers in their online classrooms. Although woven throughout, Module 6, in particular is organized to take up expectations outlined by the professional governing body for teachers in Ontario in light of the multiple and diverse online contexts in which new teachers will surely find themselves working during their careers.

In the generative spirit of openness we have published this course as a public website. This work is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 4.0 License which does not permit anyone to use our work for financial gain or for any commercial purposes, but does allow users to adapt these materials so long as attribution is given to us (the authors).

Suggested citation: Hagerman, M.S. & Kellam, H. (2020). Learning to teach online: An open educational resource for preservice teacher candidates. http://onlineteaching.ca

Finally, it is important to note that as authors, we do not endorse any digital device, tool or technology. Insofar as we identify particular tools in this course, we do so only because the tool offers particular technical affordances that may support teaching and/or learning in some way, or in alignment with a particular principle (e.g., providing multiple means of representation of ideas in course materials). When we mention a digital tool, we do not imply or suggest that it is ideal, that it meets all criteria for accessibility, or that it is beyond critique. Although we work in the field of educational technology, we do not use our privilege to advance the interests of any corporate entity. We encourage critical examination of the affordances, purposes, and limitations of any digital technology mentioned in this course.


Barbour, M. & LaBonte, R. (2019). Sense of irony or perfect timing: Examining the research supporting proposed e-learning changes in Ontario. International Journal of E-Learning & Distance Education, 34(2). http://www.ijede.ca/index.php/jde/article/view/1137/1736

Borup, J., Graham, C.M., Velasquez, A. (2013). Technology-mediated caring: Building relationships between students and instructors in online K-12 learning environments. In M. Newberry, A. Gallant & P. Riley (Eds). Emotion and School: Understanding how the hidden curriculum influences relationships, leadership, teaching, and learning (Advances in Research on Teaching, Vol. 18, pp. 183-202). Emerald Group Publishing Ltd.

Heath, S. B. (1983). Ways with words: Language, life, and work in communities and classrooms. Cambridge University Press.

Mishra, P. (2020, March). Tipping point for online learning? Or the postman always rings twice. https://punyamishra.com/2020/03/24/tipping-point-for-online-learning-or-the-postman-always-rings-twice/

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge: A Framework for Teacher Knowledge. Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017–1054. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9620.2006.00684.x

Noddings, N. (2012). The caring relation in teaching. Oxford Review of Education, 38(6), 771–781. https://doi.org/10.1080/03054985.2012.745047

Postman, N. (1998). Five things we need to know about technological change. Retrieved from https://web.cs.ucdavis.edu/~rogaway/classes/188/materials/postman.pdf

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Harvard University Press.

Zheng, B., Lin, C. H., & Kwon, J. B. (2020). The impact of learner-, instructor-, and course-level factors on online learning. Computers and Education, 150 (January), 103851. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2020.103851