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Important Tips for Developing a Quality Online Course
 

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