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What is scaffolding?

In online learning pedagogy, scaffolding tends to refer either to pedagogical terms like instructional scaffolds which utilise Vygotsky's Zone of Proximal Development or to facilitating terms like Gilly Salmon's e-moderating model. Both these areas have an influence on the successful engagement of students with your learning content and environment. 

Salmon e-moderating model

Gilly Salmon's 2000 model of e-moderating remains relevant to students accessing and engaging with online learning content today. 


We have detailed some interactions below that contribute to students successfully achieving each stage of the model: 


Ensure useful welcome information and instructions are sent to the student

  • Course admin communications
  • ORE instruction page
  • DL portal

Getting to know you

Foster a sense of community and guidelines for working together – be proactive

  • Discussion boards
  • Course Communities
  • Learning Contracts


Get in touch with your students and let them know what’s going on! Prompts for what they should be doing this week/should have done this week

  • Announcements
  • Emails
  • Google Community Posts


Be prepared to facilitate students in their learning – they’ll have questions

  • Online Learning Tutor
  • Voice messages


Engage with your students with regular and useful feedback – this is not as automatic as it is in the classroom

  • Grading activities
  • Discussion boards


Instructional Scaffolding

Instructional scaffolding provides a framework whereby students work not only to complete a task, usually in chunked learning, but also to develop the skills needed to resolve that task. The scaffolding is often chunked into areas that fall into the student's zone of proximal development (Vygotsky 1930s), and supported with collaborative interactions with the instructor as well as a framework of support and guidance. 

This model works incredibly well for online learning as students are challenged to develop and engaged on a regular basis with their tutors and peers in a coaching style of learning. 

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