Journal 2 – The Impact of the Online Environment – EDUC 4151

What have you learned about this topic?

I really liked Gilly Salmon’s 5 stage Model of interaction in online learning. I think that it is a simple model to keep in mind when building my own online course. It will help me stay organized and keep the progression of my course at a reasonable pace.

The 5 stage Model is as follows:

Stage 1 – Access and Motivation

Making an online course easily accessible will help learners from various backgrounds find the information they need and learn how the technological aspects of the course works. The learners are coming in motivated and the fewer barriers there are between their motivation and the course, the better. The instructor/moderator is also there to keep the motivation going and help everyone access what they will need for the course.

Stage 2 – Online Socialisation

Once participants in the online course, can access the course and all the materials, it is time for them to get to know each other a bit more. In many online courses, participants are coming from many different backgrounds and levels of experience with the subject matter as well as learning via an online medium. This is also good for the instructor as they get a chance to pre-assess the participants and determine who might need more support. This is also a low-stakes way of getting more comfortable with the technology of the course.

Stage 3 – Information Exchange

Participants have had a chance to get to know each other a bit more. Now they get to know the content of the course more. The instructor/moderator guides the participants as they gain more confidence with themselves, the course, and their peers. They begin to work through the content together and exchange information.

Stage 4 – Knowledge Construction

Now the spotlight is more on the participants to work together to construct new knowledge together. The instructor/moderator steps back and gives more power to the participants to take charge of their own learning. This is the stage of discovery and participants are starting to work on bigger projects and assignments in this stage.

Stage 5 – Development

Once participants have a good handle on the course content, they can start to find ways to apply it to their own contexts. The process that the participants went through during the course, should enable them to continue to build on the content they learned as they begin to use it for their own needs throughout the class and after the course is over.

Salmon’s 5 stages of interaction in an online classroom outlines a very useful progression of interaction. It takes time for participants in a class to warm up and I think setting up a course with these stages will help participants – especially those new to online learning, get comfortable with the new learning environment.

Why did you choose this topic? How do you identify with it?

I think this is a really good way to keep my online courses organized. I also remember that the first time I participated in an online course, the first 2 stages were the most important for me. It was really great and interesting to figure out who my classmates were but it was also really useful in strategizing who to work with on group projects. It also helped determine how much and how comfortable I was with using the new (to me) platform at the time and how comfortable I was with engaging in deeper discussions with my peers.

The last stage is also very important to me as it is what kept me motivated throughout the whole course. In fact, I think that after stage 1 & 2, the ‘development’ stage should be woven throughout stages 3-5. It can help participants stay more engaged in an online course if they can and are constantly tying what they have learned back to their own contexts.

What does this new learning mean to you? What new insights do you now have? How has your thinking changed because of this learning?

I think one of the key things about online learning is that it takes time. It takes time to adjust to a new learning platform, it takes time to adjust to classmates that you don’t get a chance to see or meet in person, and it takes time to figure out how to go about teaching and learning online. Having the different stages of interaction defined is a good way to slow down and think about how to lay out a course keeping all of this in mind. Patience is key and there is no need to rush as everyone learns at different paces.

As Conrad and Donaldson (2011) point out, it is very important to allow an adequate amount of time for online activities to evolve. It is also better to have fewer activities that go more in depth in terms of knowledge generation than lots of smaller activities.

How can this new learning be applied in your online course?

Scaffolding does not necessarily only apply to the content of learning but also to the delivery of this content. In my online course, I hope to take my participants through the stages of interaction and use that to build upon the content sharing and knowledge construction and application as the course progresses. The following is a list of some ideas for tools I might use for each stage of interacting in my course. Of course, this is an evolving list.

Stage 1 – email, ‘ask the instructor’ discussion forum, advice forum from previous participants, more instructor/student interaction, more support

Stage 2 – discussion forum for self-intro, water cooler forum for other topics of conversation, setting up a profile page

Stage 3 – discussion forums, wikis, blogs, chat, email, meet in person (if possible)

Stage 4 – discussion forums, wikis, blogs, chat, email, meet in person (if possible), Google docs, Skype, Slideshare, Prezi

Stage 5 – work projects, reports, knowledge sharing with colleagues




Conrad, R.M. & Donaldson, J.A. (2011). Engaging the online learner. [Kindle version]. Available from

Salmon, G. (n.d.). The 5 stage Model [blog post]. Retrieved from


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