online course design
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Anyone who has been teaching for a while knows that stress is normal for our vocation. When stress is prolonged over a long period of time, we experience exhaustion. Online instruction can compound the effects of mental, emotional, and even physical exhaustion because of course design that extends the time ...
I have just experienced a new first in my teaching career: This week I had to re-design a course for a face-to-face format from an online format. I recently switched jobs. After teaching for half a dozen years in a school that exists primarily online, I am now back in ...
As an online instructor who understands the rigors of course design and management, I often wonder if it would be easier to livestream a class through video conferencing, rather than prepare an asynchronous course module by module. In a Hamlet-esque way, I ask: “whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to ...
Best Practices in Online Teaching
Online Teaching: Best Practices (8:52)
This video summarizes 10 Best Practices for online teaching. What distinguishes the presenter’s approach is that she provides multiple ways to employ each individual practice.
How to Design Your Online Course (5:43)
Detailed discussion of how to apply 3 key principles of backward design to online teaching: Identify desired results, determine acceptable evidence (assessment), plan learning experiences and facilitation.
Online Classes: Tips for Success (10:48)
Engaging summary of what students like about online courses, why distraction challenges student learning online, factors that detract or contribute to online learning, and some ways to increase odds of success. Recommended for prospective online students as well as teachers.
Evaluating Discussion Boards (6:39)
Three professors describe the rubrics they use for grading contributions to discussion boards.
Using Blogs in Online Classes as a Learning Tool (10:52)
Why and how to use collaborative and “individual writing network” blogs as an alternative to discussion boards. The presenter suggests guidelines for integrating blogs into online teaching and enumerates the benefits she’s observed.
Creating an Interactive and Personal Course (8:22)
What student posts in discussion boards tell teachers and how to use this knowledge in “announcement links” to interact with the class. Other purposes of general comments from the instructor through these links are outlined as well. Presenter discusses the advantage of blogs over discussion boards for personal interaction with individual students.
VoiceThread in Online Courses (15:39)
A thorough introduction to using VoiceThread: what it is, benefits of using it, challenges it presents, and how to overcome them.
How Students Cheat (8:13)
Situates student behavior along a “continuum of cheating” and explains forms of cheating less commonly classified as such in order that professors can take steps to minimize these behaviors.
Using Weekly Video in Your Online Course (7:06)
A professor’s musings on why weekly video posts to students enhance online teaching and learning.
Group Discussions in Online Classes (6:23)
Strategies for stimulating online small-group discussion of readings and presentations.
Date Reviewed: November 30, -0001
Anyone who has developed an online course knows how important the design of the course is. Poorly designed courses make the course navigation difficult, causing unnecessary frustration and limiting the ability of students to achieve learning outcomes. The author of this book understands these difficulties. Drawing upon her own negative experiences with initial online offerings, she provides readers with important lessons on designing effective online experiences for both teachers and students.
Davis suggests, rightly, that the reader should use the text like a workbook, drawing from the ideas presented in the text as the reader creates her/his own course in the platform the reader uses. She encourages readers to draw upon the backward course design model: begin with learning objectives, discern appropriate ways to assess those objectives, and then generate online learning activities that will enable success in the course. Such alignment will promote student success.
The author provides an acronym, L.I.T.E., for the design framework she encourages. Readers should be sure to create clickable links to external content (L), integrate well the multimedia included (I), use typography and white space to enhance the legibility of the course (T), and embed the content at the point of need (E). She identifies four types of content pages that should be part of the design: landing page, navigation page, instructional page, and assignment submission page. Of course, most learning platforms will provide these. The key, she contends, is to create them in a way that achieves the course objectives and is user-friendly for the student.
The remainder of the chapters illustrate how readers can develop the various components of a good online course, including images and videos, integrating multimedia, facilitating instruction and interaction, and the all-important assessment. Davis provides helpful hints regarding the tools included in software such as PowerPoint, like using it to download and edit images or to incorporate online media. She also points to a number of free online tools one can use to develop a course, such as the presentation tool Brainshark, and the interaction tool VoiceThread. At the same time, she cautions users not to incorporate too many technologies into the course. The focus should be on learning the content of the course, not on overwhelming students with too many technologies.
As with any text, there are some limitations. Parts of the book require knowledge of html language. Many faculty do not know html language because they use software to develop their courses that does this automatically. In addition, for a book that emphasizes visual design, many of the illustrations are difficult to read, leaving the reader to wonder how well the text follows its own advice on legibility. Yet over all, the text is a useful step-by-step guide for developing an online course or for improving the visual design of existing courses.