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Important Tips for Developing a Quality Online Course
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Important Tips for Developing a Quality Online Course

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Important Tips for Developing a Quality Online Course Important Tips for Developing a Quality Online Course Presentation Transcript

  • Developing a Quality Online Course
    Michael J. Robertson, Ph.D.
    eLearning Department
    August 2011
  • Quality Online Courses
    Characteristics
    Provide scaffolding for multiple styles
    Promote higher level thinking
    Emphasize individual and social learning
    Incorporate diverse media formats
    Reflect both richness and simplicity in organization and presentation
    Model instructor expectations for student work
    Place a high level of worth in student-instructor and student-student interaction
  • Overview
    Pedagogy
    Technology
    Course Development
  • Pedagogy
    Cognitive, behavioral, and social learning must all be acknowledged
    Encourage student reflection by way of independent and group-oriented writing activities
    Enable social interaction through synchronous - e.g., real-time interview with external content matter expert - and asynchronous - e.g., discussion postings about case studies - activities
    Avoid information overload by presenting learning content via concise modules that build upon one another.
    7 (+/- 2) chunks of information (Miller, 1956)
    Online learning is by its very nature active, that is, it requires the learner take responsibility for his or her learning
    Assign experiential learning activities, such as field observations and journals for meta-cognitive reflection
    Identify and cultivate real-life context by way of student-instructor and student-student interaction
    Where do student interests intersect with the course content?
    Identify possible areas for inference, synthesis, and transference
    Extensive research reveals that student-instructor interaction is a major factor influencing student satisfaction with online courses
    Regardless of the technical or presentation-related course aspects, if consistent, meaningful, and timely instructor feedback is not present, students rate the learning experience low
    Rapport building is an important component to meaningful student-instructor discourse
    Frequent real-time dialogue, early in the semester, is more likely to generate meaningful rapport and ultimately student satisfaction with the course (Jones, Warren, and Robertson, 2009)
  • Pedagogy
    Be consistent in course design, including the following aspects (Shapiro, 2011):
    Ease of navigation
    The furthest any learning content should be is no more than three (3) mouse clicks from the course homepage
    Course elements are consistent and clearly marked, e.g., fonts and font colors
    Highlighting text with background colors can be distracting as well as a potential accessibility issue
    Put simply, different font types on the same page and/or across a course look unprofessional and suggest to students that attention to detail is low priority
    Model the correct behavior - e.g., respectful online dialogue - and expected outcomes - e.g., quality of work submitted - at every level of the course
    Course elements are easy to follow
    Be deliberate and straightforward with icon selection, i.e., use a folder icon for a folder, and not, for example, a smiley face
    Content titles are clear, e.g., Module 1: Quiz 2
    Chapter 1 is not sufficiently descriptive, i.e., Chapter 1 what, assignments, quizzes, lectures?
    Design elements, like color and images, do not distract from course content
    The focal point for each page should be the information conveyed, and NOT supporting materials like inspirational images or other items that redirect student attention
    Due dates are clearly listed, if possible, in multiple locations
    Repetition of such information saves both the student and instructor frustration in the long run
  • Technology
    ANGEL, i.e., A New Global Environment for Learning, is the Learning Management System (LMS) used at NCTC
    NCTC currently deploys the most up-to-date system version, ANGEL 7.4
    The eLearning Department provides faculty the following Web-based technical resources:
    ANGEL Support
    ANGEL Faculty Tutorials
    ANGEL Faculty Video Tutorials
    ANGEL Faculty QuickStart Guide
    ANGEL Faculty Reference Guide
    ANGEL 7.4: Instructor Fundamentals
    Faculty also have access to this training series under their Courses nugget in ANGEL
    Using streaming audiovideo and interactive learning objects, this training series provides step-by-step instruction on how to complete a wide variety of instructor-related ANGEL tasks
  • Technology
    The eLearning Department provides faculty the following… resources (cont.):
    Virtual Training Company (VTC)
    NCTC faculty have access to online software training through VTC Online University
    Training titles include Microsoft Office, Adobe Flash CS5, Apple Final Cut, Apple QuickTime Pro and many more!
    For additional information or to setup VTC access, contact Michael Robertson
    New NCTC online faculty must complete a training series to be certified to teach online
    Course development cannot begin until the certification process is successfully completed
    Technology can be a wonderful tool to support meaningful learning; however, it can also, when applied incorrectly or excessively, impede or confuse student learning
    Are simpler tools available that would satisfy student technology expectations?
    If students do not perceive it to be useful it may very well impede learning!
    Deploy the appropriate tool for the activity, do not design an activity after selecting the tool
    Power Point presentations are a common delivery method for online instructors; however, without a speaker they are often too vague for meaningful student learning
    Use various multimedia tools, like the narration feature in Microsoft Office 2010, to provide that needed layer of personalization to Power Point presentations
    Creating Flash-based interactions that incorporate Power Point presentations, or adding pop quizzes to streaming video clips are all possible!
    Contact the eLearning Department for more information on these and other content development possibilities
  • Course Development
    The course development process spans 12 to 18 months
    Target completion of the initial course version for the end of the first six to nine months, allowing the second half of the process to focus on review and revision
    Simply migrating content online that is used to support face-to-face instruction, such as Power Point presentations and reading assignments, DOES NOT alone make a quality online course
    A midpoint progress evaluation will be performed. If a course is not to the appropriate development stage, it will be canceled or put on hold for a future semester
    Any course not developed and meeting final approval by the first day of early registration for the appropriate semester will be dropped from the schedule
    All new online courses must successfully complete the peer review process before launch
    The peer review process is necessary to ensure that NCTC students are offered only high quality online courses
    The peer review process usually takes 2-3 months to complete
    Meet regularly, at least once a month, with your assigned instructional designer
    He or she is responsible for supporting you throughout the course development process, including pedagogical, technical, and logistical assistance
    eLearning staff recognize that faculty perceptions of the development experience influence subsequent participation and advocacy for online learning at NCTC
    Why is it bad practice to procrastinate on a course development project?
    The course may be canceled or put on hold if appropriate progress is not evident
    Produces back log in peer review process placing additional burden on other faculty and staff
    May leave development work to complete after semester startup, thus drawing instructor attention away from student learning
    Visible errors model student expectations of quality, e.g., Student asks, "Why did you take points off my paper for misspelling words when there are misspelled words in our Syllabus?"
    High quality courses offer a higher earning potential for the instructor and institution
  • Resources
    Deubel, P. (2003). Learning from reflections - Issues in building quality online courses.Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 6(3). Retrieved February 14, 2011, from http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/fall63/deubel63.htm
    Friedman, V. (2008). Applying divine proportion to your Web designs. Smashing Magazine. Retrieved February 14, 2011, from http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/05/29/applying-divine-proportion-to-web-design/
    Jones, J. G., Warren, S. J., & Robertson, M. (2009). Increasing student discourse to support rapport building in web and blended courses using a 3D Online Learning Environment. Journal of Interactive Learning Research, 20(3), 269-294.
    Miller, G. A. (1956). The magical number seven, plus or minus two: Some limits on our capacity for processing information. Psychological Review, 63(2), 343–355.
    Shaprio, A. (2011). Focus on instructional design: What elements to include in a quality online course [Webinar]. Retrieved January 25, 2011, from http://www.itcnetwork.org/
    Swineburne University of Technology. (na). Swineburne multimedia design tutorials: Basic design principles. Retrieved February 14, 2011, from http://www.swinburne.edu.au/design/tutorials/design/design/
    Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. (2011). Professional development modules. Retrieved February 15, 2011, from http://www.txprofdev.org/
  • Questions, Comments
    http://cms.nctc.edu/NCTCDev/eLearning_Department/Quality_Online_Course_Dev.aspx