Pioneering the future of digital education in universities: The Manifesto for Teaching Online

The book 'The Manifesto for Teaching Online' is a distillation of a research programme beginning in 2011 that focuses on the politics and practices of digital education; this body of work has advanced knowledge of effective, critical digital education that has influenced universities and organisations globally.


Research hub

Digital Education

Research experts

Professor Siân Bayne

Dr Jen Ross

Dr Jeremy Knox

Dr Christine Sinclair

Dr Hamish Macleod

Dr Philippa Sheail

Dr Peter Evans

Dr James Lamb

Dr Rory Ewins

Clara O’Shea

Research centre/group

Centre for Research in Digital Education

What was the problem?

As we have seen during the Covid-19 pandemic, it is not easy to develop high-quality online learning opportunities that engage, motivate, and inspire communities of learners and teachers. Critical, interdisciplinary research is important in digital innovation in teaching and learning, especially when meeting the challenge of fostering a sense of collegiality in online learning environments where learners feel part of a supportive and responsive community.

What did we do?

The Centre for Research in Digital Education has developed a body of research that has significantly influenced digital education implementation and practice in universities globally. The Manifesto for Teaching Online, published in 2020, is a distillation of a research programme beginning in 2011 which focuses on the politics and practices of digital education. The research counters the idea that online education is necessarily inferior to in-person teaching, challenges surveillant infrastructures in higher education teaching and interrogates how digital practices change the way universities assess their students.

The work of the authors is recognised globally for its emphasis on the value of sociomaterialist perspectives, highlighting the interconnected nature of the human and the technological. This work argues strongly against the dominant view of technology as a tool and education itself as an instrument.

Other, related research and practice led by the Centre has also spearheaded massive open online courses (MOOCs), broadening the curriculum of the types of courses offered and enhancing MOOC pedagogy through its platform partnerships.

What happened next?

The Manifesto for Teaching Online has benefitted teachers and leaders in higher education internationally, setting out core principles and critical, research-based perspectives on high quality online teaching which has been highly influential on practice and policy. More than 100,000 professionals participated in the MOOC based on the manifesto (“E-learning and digital cultures”, 2013). The manifesto has been translated into Spanish, Chinese and Croatian and used in programme curricula across the globe.

The Centre's research is widely recognised as world-leading, with the Manifesto bringing together a cross-disciplinary research programme that is actively used by an international community of higher education practitioners and leaders.

This book has few peers, offering practical takeaways but never shying away from asking hard questions about the work of online teaching. The authors push the conversation forward in ways that will change the landscape of online education for the better.

Jesse Stommel, Co-founder & Executive Director of Hybrid Pedagogy, Digital Pedagogy Lab

This body of work has been influential in building practitioners’ capacity to help address the challenge of the COVID-19 digital “pivot”, influencing their digital competency and pedagogy via our research, engagement and teaching. The research-led Digital Education Masters programme built on this work has, as of December 2020, educated 700 students from 57 nations in advanced online teaching practice and leadership. Alumni from this programme have transformed their universities’ policy and practice in digital education.

The whole team on the Manifesto for Online Learning… gave me the breadth of understanding needed to respond to the pressures of the COVID crisis.

Higher education leader

Watch The Manifesto for Teaching Online launch event recordings

Watch short talks on themes from The Manifesto for Teaching Online

Related study programmes

Digital Education - Online Learning (MSc/PgDip/PgCert)

E-learning and Digital Cultures