Designing Successful Online Courses, Part 1

Step 1: Determine a livable phase approach. The phased approach begins by encouraging faculty to recognize that designing their online course is only phase one of their efforts. By organizing work progress into Phase Two, Phase Three, etc., it frees instructors from feeling that everything needs to be done in their first development effort. Especially when teachers don’t have a full-time instructional design team, the ongoing development is liberating and reassuring. Any part of a course can be tackled first, especially in a redesign: content sections, order, or specific assignments. Therefore, in Step 1, determine which aspect of the course to redesign first (perhaps the final project, assignments, discussion, or assessment). Then decide what to do second, third, etc. This approach becomes the preliminary plan and can be modified if necessary.

Step 2 View the course content. Converting a course to an online format could provide an opportunity to include additional content that would be too difficult for a traditional course (Conrad & Donaldson, 2004; Simonson et al., 2009). Because of the exceptional freely available online resources, it is easy for students to watch a wider range of primary source videos, listen to audio files and read additional material and easily integrate this into the online platform. As content experts, faculty are best placed to select the online resources that are valid and effective. Such content can create invaluable opportunities to discuss and learn how to separate fallacy from fact.

Step 3 Redesign and redesign activities.Based on the examples in the sections above, consider which course activities need to be redesigned to allow for in-depth discussion and dialogue in an online environment. Identify two or three activities that can be used in the first round of your course redesign. Using a variety of activities is beneficial. However, the activities must build on the trainer’s expertise and not overwhelm the learners with too many types of tasks to master or overly complex technical details.

Step 4 Unleash the crowd. Although faculty have never used group assignments in class before, online environments offer a variety of benefits and means to facilitate them. Group interaction in the online environment provides another critical space for dialogue and content discussion (Luppicini, 2007; Palloff & Pratt, 2005). Additionally, groups inherently include peer learning opportunities. When students have to explain their understanding, choices, and reasons to their classmates, they explore the content and the process more fully.

Step 5 Present expert content with new possibilities. One of the biggest frustrations with poorly designed online courses is that some don’t provide students with teacher-created content. Somehow these faculties believe that just having the students read the textbook and answer the questions is enough to adequately meet the learning objectives. When designing online courses, consider how you can use the online environment to share your expertise. First, decide which modes to use. For example, they may be audio lectures, PowerPoint or multimedia presentations, presentations with audio narration, video presentations of your lectures or discussions, or visual representations of lecture notes. One of the most effective strategies is to incorporate and vary a few of these approaches. Not only do they keep students interested as they move from video clips to audio and then text, but they also appeal to different learning styles and preferences (King & Gura, 2009; Simonson et al., 2009). This experience can be very pleasant; Instructors have the opportunity to incorporate and develop materials that would have been impractical in traditional settings.

These five steps to success will get you on the road to planning and designing your online courses. In future installments we will continue this important discussion. Until then!

Thanks to Dr. Kathleen P. King | #Designing #Successful #Online #Courses #Part

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