Be online or not to be?

Trends and changes in many disciplines call for new statistical methods to take care about a huge amount of data with quite complex structures and of different quality. This in turn requires many different skills besides statistical competence from today’s statisticians for successful collaboration with professionals at the authorities, companies and industries, e.g. strategic thinking and digital literacy.

Nowadays, my own teaching is fully conducted in the face-to-face form. There are various reasons for it, institutional as well as personal, e.g. traditions, habits, lack of time, regulations, etc.

Contemporary technologies offer new possibilities not only for research but also for teaching. Digital tools like various applets for simulations facilitate understanding of difficult statistical concepts and methods, video materials of high quality, open resources with available data strengthen students’ engagement in the learning process and enhance study results. Are there possibilities to create online and blended learning designs for statistics education which could be appealing for students?

It seems to be old fashioned not to use online design in statistics education. I see a large potential to use the structure of ONL course with zoom meetings, blogging and collaborative work in statistics education, especially concerning development of practical skills in data analysis and report writing. Salmon’s five-stage model (Salmon, 2013) is of a great help to properly structure an online course or a course with blended design.

Zoom-environment can help teacher to be more efficient. Already now I can think to implement blended block model (Cleveland-Innes & Wilton, 2018; Hannon & Macken, 2014) for my courses. Such a BB-model is a combination of three components: (1) intensive face-to-face sessions (lectures), (2) weekly online tutorial for activities and interaction (computer labs) and (3) online resources.

All my courses have BB-structure except online tutorials which are face-to-face meetings (computer sessions) today. Courses with computer labs devoted to data analysis using new statistical methods fit very well for implementation of blended learning design. The instructor prepares computer lab instructions and provides necessary information in advance (available for students online), and then organizes the group work and monitors it during the computer lab using Zoom-environment. Here, physical presence and room size restrictions disappear ( a standard computer class can today fit max 30 students).

Computer lab can be then started with some problem-based example where new statistical methods could be applied and explanation of some technical details. Later, students could work (e.g. 30 min) with data and discuss the results. Students will prepare a written (and possibly even oral) presentation of their group work and individually reflect on their work via blogs and peer-reviews. Implicit presence of the instructor could stimulate students’ independent work on the problem, at the same time (e.g. via chat or short talks) the instructor can help students to overcome some technical difficulties and facilitate the process of data analysis (e.g. guidelines during the data analysis process).

In general, there are many possibilities foe eLearning development in my own teaching. For example, PhD education suffering from a small amount of students available for PhD courses (oneor two new PhD students per year), could gain a lot if one goes over to online teaching using blended learning designs. Since face-to-face teacher-student and student-student communication are of utmost importance (Cleveland-Innes, 2018) also in PhD education, online teaching would be excellent complement.

Recenly, I learned about using recording of feedback for students. This is another possibility to facilitate students’ learning and improve the communication between teacher and students, since it is naive to believe that students Always understand teacher’s written feedback as teacher meant it.

Going blended” is about more than just technology—it’s about rethinking instruction and effectively managing innovation over time.-M. Horn and H. Staker, education experts.



Cleveland-Innes M. & Wilton D. (2018). Guide to Blended Learning. Burnaby: Commonwealth of Learning.

Cleveland-Innes, M. (2018) Community of Inquiry and Teaching Presence: Facilitation in online and blended learning. Presentation slides from ONL181 webinar.

Hannon J. & Macken C. (2014). Blended and online curriculum design toolkit. La Trobe

Salmon, G (2013) The Five Stage Model. [Homepage]

En reaktion till “Be online or not to be?

  1. I agree. Implicit presence is really important. I have tried online preparation for physical presentations with my students, and the quality and confidence was really different when I was present on online platform to when I was not. I provided rubrics to all for expectations and assessment, but implicit presence was more useful.



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