(OMSW) Online and Hybrid Pedagogy


In this section, we've gathered materials on pedagogy and adult learning approaches that will help you to best engage and involve students via the design of your course. You may read through this information and explore further the categories that interest you. Note that we start this information with assessments (step two of the Backward Design process) and then move to activities (step three), which include approaches to learning and various classroom 'structures' used for higher engagement. There is also some additional information from the scholarly literature about teaching and designing online social work courses and programs if you'd like to review it now or at a later time.

Designing Your Assessments

Assessments are as much a tool for the student as they are for the instructor. Though assessments provide the evidence that learning outcomes are being met and that students are where you want them to be at each determined interval of the course, they 're also a way to pinpoint misunderstandings and areas of potentially unanticipated importance to a particular cohort. Whereas students can use assessments to gauge their learning and for motivation to improve, you can use the results of the assessments to evolve your course in small ways throughout the term and ensure that you're meeting student needs.

Here are some helpful materials on formative assessment, authentic assessment, and course-based assessment to help you think through how to approach assessing students in your course.

Formative Assessment

Authentic Assessment

"Assessment is authentic when we directly examine student performance on worthy intellectual tasks. Traditional assessment, by contract, relies on indirect or proxy ‘items’–efficient, simplistic substitutes from which we think valid inferences can be made about the student’s performance at those valued challenges." -Grant Wiggins, "The Case for Authentic Assessment."

Course-Based Assessment

"Course-based Assessment refers to methods of assessing student learning within the classroom environment, using course goals, objectives and content to gauge the extent of the learning that is taking place."

Designing Your Learning Activities

A learning activity can be considered anything that helps your students learn the desired content. We often think of lectures as a way to present content that students should learn (and they do!). Learning activities, however, are focused on engaging students with learning in active ways (activities = active!). Some of what you'll find below discusses approaches to classroom and/or learning structure that shape learning activities toward more engagement and, thus, improvement in learning.

Active Learning

  • For an overview of what active learning is, read Active Learning from the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning at Harvard University

  • This quick report in our Now That's a Great IDEA eZine gives an overview of a session at the 2021 Online Learning Consortium conference in which Jeff Borden from D2L (Desire 2Learn) discussed how to employ active learning in teaching and course design: Making Learning More Social

The Flipped Classroom Approach

Problem-Based Learning (PBL)

  • A widely-cited 2003 article, "Problem-Based Learning in Social Work Education", concludes: "Problem-Based Learning appears to offer social work education promising opportunities for addressing the complex needs of our clients. Attempts to routinize learning can become artificial and do a serious disservice to students. Educators need to help students develop critical thinking skills for coping with complex practice situations that require “real life” thinking."

  • Another article from 2008, Impact of Problem-Based Learning on Social Work Students: Growth and Limits, states, "Students reported good improvement in using multiple sources of learning instead of depending on the teacher’s input. They became more ready to analyze and deal with problems, more alert to their own learning needs and capacity for exploration. Many grew in their teamwork collaboration skills."


Interleaving structures a course, so there's more continuity from week to week.

Community of Inquiry

The COI model essentially states that the learning experience is at the center of 3 types of presence: teaching, cognitive, and social. The diagram that follows this link helps to illustrate it.

Scholarly Literature on Social Work + Online + Hybrid Learning

    • This summary of articles with bullet points has helpful information from scholarly literature about developing online programs and courses and the related successes, opportunities, and strategies (UMID login required)

    • This folder of articles contains some of the articles referenced in the "summary of articles with bullet points" as well as many more (UMID login required)

    • The Online Learning Efficacy Research Database from Oregon State University is a great new resource tool that you can use to search for research on hybrid, online, or web-facilitated literature!