Scripting the Online Experience

As your institution may have gone full speed with implementing online teaching for the summer terms, there is a high probability that you will be expected to teach online in the fall and winter terms. It is overwhelming at times if your inbox is constantly filled up with invitations to workshops from your teaching and learning department, tips from your fellow colleagues, and motivational e-mails from administrators to gear up for what’s coming ahead. We learn best about the application of a tool through user case scenarios, but often it is not convincing enough to jump on the bandwagon. 

Centering your pedagogy as part of the experience you would like to create 

Students don’t engage with the myriad of tools you may want to introduce in the class. Although technology can be the catalyst for change in your course, it is important to realize that students connect with your pedagogy (Watson, 2001). They connect with the personality that was responsible for the great experience they just had in your class. It is of paramount importance to always let your pedagogy shine through the experience you designed for your students. We remember teachers from our past because of the ahaa moments they allowed us to have, and how they made us feel confident and included in their class. Therefore, before you start designing or re purposing your course, jot down the pedagogical intentions you want to accomplish. 

Designing a script for the lesson, week, and course 

A thoughtful way to start the process is creating a script for your lesson, a few weeks at a time, and your entire course. A script is a formalism for capturing the pedagogical structure of a learning design (Tissenbaum & Slotta, 2012). It differs from a “lesson plan” in that a lesson plan is typically centered around teaching activities, whereas a script is centered around learners and their interactions (Dillenbourg, 2004). You can think about how you want the knowledge to flow among the different planes: instructor, individual, team, and knowledge community base. As the knowledge flows from a plane to another, every transmission should have a pedagogical intention. I am not talking about technology yet! You should now think about the various pedagogical strategies that you have used or learnt from others to enable your intentions and knowledge flows. Furthermore, a script reflects an underlying theoretical model or hypothesis concerning the mechanisms by which learning occurs i.e. how particular types of interactions are supposed to produce the desired learning effects (Dillenbourg, 2004). 

Figure 1 – SALTISE CourseFlow is an interactive and dynamic app that allows for designing script for your lesson with pedagogical strategies. 

After your script is ready, you can now take your online learning toolbox out and evaluate the tools you are ready to use. Think about the tools you are most familiar with and how they can serve the activities you have planned out. Explore the institutional tools available for you first before you find other suitable tools. It is also the perfect opportunity to review some of the newer tools introduced to you and see if they either augment your current tools or that one new tool replaces a few older ones. Many new tools tend to have collated features from older tools to give an integrated experience. Create a new space in your script, and insert these tools and adjust the timing of your lesson, considering the time to access and subscribe to the tool etc.  

Consider the user experience – trying too many tools and strategies 

When creating a human -centered designed product, reflect on the user journey of the experience you have just created. The nuances add up to be a splendid or a frustrating experience. For instance, switching tools frequently makes students feel overwhelmed and eventually disconnected. Ask yourself, why are you switching tools or strategies. Your script should back you up with the pedagogical intention for that switching. If it is a new tool that you are introducing, allocate time for a mini walk-through so that students feel comfortable and confident to use it as part of their learning.  

Rehearse the script 

As with any performance, you need to rehearse your script before the show. Ask yourself, am I trying too many things. What would be a backup plan if I can’t go through all the activities, what should I prioritize? As an educator, you may agree that some strategies never go as well as intended. Reflect on those moments and make notes that will impact changes for your future script. You could also share your script with your colleagues for insights that you may have overlooked or learn from their similar experiences – and offer the same for their scripts. You can share with your students why you chose the tool and what pedagogical intention it is facilitating. Ask you students for opinions as these actions strengthen the learning community by sifting the power to all the members.


Dillenbourg, Pierre. “Framework for integrated learning.” (2004). 

Tissenbaum, M., & Slotta, J. D. (2012). Scripting collective inquiry in high school physics. In Proceedings of the 10th International Conference of the Learning Sciences (pp. 118-125). 

Watson, D. M. (2001). Pedagogy before technology: Re-thinking the relationship between ICT and teaching. Education and Information technologies, 6(4), 251-266. 

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