Getting started with online course design
While teachers know how to design a course for the face-to-face environment they don’t always have the knowledge required to design an online one. Designing an online course can be more challenging than most expect. Here are some tips to get you started.
- Spend time outlining the flow of the course before starting to develop it. It is important to design a well thought-out course. This will not only provide a cohesive approach to the course but will save time in the end because you won’t need to rework your course structure later.
- Include a variety of activities into your course design. By using a mix of activities you’ll provide students with new experiences that offer a range of collaborative approaches. For example some students may prefer to read a book or watch a video while others may enjoy a group assignment or wiki activity.
- Don’t use your online course as a file repository. Avoid simply taking your lectures and other face-to-face materials and uploading them as resources into your course. Instead take advantage of the online environment and create a truly interactive learning experience. You do not need to recreate everything either. Be a content curator and search the web for existing great content. Save yourself some time and avoid recreating the wheel when possible. xpLor is a tool within Joule that allows you to search for existing content and add it into your course walls with the click of a button.
- Consider a flipped classroom approach. If you are facilitating a hybrid classroom this approach can engage students outside the classroom and provide more time in class for hands-on activities.
- Design engaging online learning. Remember your students have the world in front of them. You’ll need to maintain their engagement. If not they could quickly become disengaged and interact with other tools and media on their computers. Mix up your delivery methods ask questions or conduct polls when delivering synchronous components and create materials to reach various learning styles.
- Provide students with detailed instructions. In the online world you cannot provide immediate help to your students so make sure that you have included enough detail within your instructions to aid your students through activities.
- Update the course syllabus for the online user. You’ll want to consider adding information such as expectations for participation and logging into the system.
- Be careful with the use of animated graphics bold color choices and varying font styles. Your graphical choices can be distracting to students if you are not careful with your decisions. Be sure to select relevant images and be consistent in style. Make sure the course is professional looking and instructionally sound.
These are just a few tips covered in our new course offering titled “Getting Started with Online Course Design”. The course introduces participants to best practices for online course design and it provides an Online Course Planning Document to use while planning and designing online courses. As part of this course a course facilitator will review submitted design documents and provide feedback to students. This course focuses on course design and is not platform specific; therefore it is relevant to all users no matter the system participants plan to use for delivering courses.
Thanks for reading
~Rebecca DeSantis, Senior Instructional Designer