How to Design an Excellent Online Course


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The session first describes the fundamentals of instructional design, and then gives a fresh perspective on course design specific to online course development. The session's tagline: 'Learn how to create dynamic and effective online courses that support meaningful learning by using a new model for course design - The Course Design Framework'.

This session was delivered face-to-face at the e-learning strategies symposium sponsored by CLRN in December 2013, and incorporates case study scenarios which provided opportunity for session participants to discuss and apply the concepts presented. Applications used for interactivity were Slideshare, Poll Everywhere and the online bulletin board Padlet.

Published in: Education, Technology

How to Design an Excellent Online Course

  1. 1. How to Design an Excellent Online Course B Y DE B B I E MORRI S O N O N LI NE LE ARN I NG I N S I GH TS e-Learning Strategies Symposium December 6 & 7, 2013 Costa Mesa, CA
  2. 2. Purpose of Session • Provide each participant with the opportunity to gain practical, relevant knowledge about course design that can be applied to work or personal education projects
  3. 3. Goals for Session • Identify principles and phases of course design • Identify the role course design plays in creating interactive and engaging courses that support learning • Review a model for course design and identify elements that contribute to effective course development • Describe how principles of course design apply to two course design scenarios
  4. 4. Agenda • Participant input using Poll Everywhere 20 minutes • Instructional Design vs. Course Design • Why Course Design • A Course Design Framework • Phases: Analyze II Remix/Develop III Implement IV Evaluate 30 minutes • Application of course design principles via case studies • Discussion 10 minutes • Q&A
  5. 5. “Design brings forth what would not come naturally” Klaus Krippendorff Professor, Cybernetics, Language & Culture Krippendorff Talk on his book The Semantic Turn:
  6. 6. Instructional Design Definition “A systematic process that is employed to develop education and training programs in a consistent and reliable fashion” (Reiser & Dempsey, 2007)
  7. 7. What is Instructional (or Course) Design? • It‟s a discipline rooted in learning theory • Involves development of an instructional plan, learning materials, selection of learning methods, assessments, etc. • It‟s a systematic process applied to education and training that brings about learning • Includes universal elements: analysis, development, implementation, assessment, evaluation and redesign • An umbrella term under which there are numerous models each incorporating similar phases: Kemp model, Dick and Carey model, etc.
  8. 8. Examples of Course Design Models Review of Instructional Design Models Applied to K-12 Environments
  9. 9. Online Course Design • The ultimate goal of course design is to develop effective, sound courses that focus on learning, not teaching • Several levels of expertise are needed when developing online courses: 1) content expertise – subject matter expert – teacher 2) technical - knowledge of the tech tools, applications 3) instructional – knowledge of pedagogical methods & learning theory
  10. 10. Bad things happen in the absence of good design…
  11. 11. And Bad Course Design often begins by…
  12. 12. A Solution to Bad Instructional Design is…
  13. 13. The framework can be used for: • creating a new course • converting an existing face-to-face course to online or blended format • evaluating a component of an existing course • redesigning an existing online or blended course Webpage with Course Design Framework:
  14. 14. Phase I: Analyze • All good design begins with analysis • Ask questions: What is the learning problem? Why? What has been done previously? What is the Purpose? • Who are the potential or existing learners? Where do they live, what skills do they need to engage in the course, educational background, Internet access? • What are characteristics, limitations, strengths of the content delivery platform or vehicle, i.e. LMS? • Learning goals – institution or learner driven?
  15. 15. Phase II: Develop Develop Learning Strategy as per following, closely aligning each to course learning goals: • Select Content – Remix, Reuse, or Create • Create activities to guide students to apply content and build knowledge • Develop/select assessment methods • Identify/methods standards for course evaluation
  16. 16. Phase III: Implement • Critical to successful course is the pilot course – conduct dry run prior to full implementation – debrief and modify accordingly • Develop and plan for formative [@ mid-point in course] and summative evaluations for each course session • Implement course and modify accordingly mid-way through course after formative evaluations
  17. 17. IV Evaluate & Redesign • Gather & analyze feedback: summative and formative • Gather course data i.e. learning analytics from LMS, completion rates, etc. • Compare course in context of standards, quality metrics, i.e. iNACOL quality assurance • Plan for revision and/or redesign of course How [unfavorable] student feedback improves online courses: Online Learning Insights
  18. 18. Case Study: MOOC Mayhem • The purpose of this next activity is to provide an opportunity to apply the principles of course design to a real-life learning situation in a discussion with your peers, that focuses on phase I and II of the Framework.
  19. 19. Case Study: MOOC Mayhem Background: • A Massive Online Open Course (MOOC)„Foundations of Online Education‟ enrolls 30,000 students • Goals of the course: 1) comprehend online learning pedagogy 2) create online materials, 3) comprehend course design 4) create an online course 5) manage online course Day one: email from instructor “This course will be collaborative in nature. So the first thing I would like you to do is to join a group. You will be able to do this when you access the course site. You will be able to click on the Join A Group link in the left navigation bar. This will take you to a Google Spreadsheet where you can sign up for a group.”
  20. 20. Case Study MOOC Mayhem: Background Day Two: Google‟s server crashes due to the volume of students trying to access the Google Doc for group sign-ups Note: Google Docs can handle only 50 active participants per document Day Four: More chaos & confusion. Day Three: email from instructor „…If you get a message "We're sorry. Our servers are busy. Please wait a bit and try again,” this just means there are too many people trying to access the site. Make sure you enter your names in the correct cells. Some of you are entering your names in cells that have the Group numbers and others are deleting names…
  21. 21. Case Study: Student Comments on Discussion Forum Day five: email from instructor We want all students to have the highest quality learning experience. For this reason, we are temporarily suspending the "Fundamentals of Online Education” course in order to make improvements.
  22. 22. Discussion: What Do You think Went Wrong? • Identify 3 [or more] elements from phase I and/or II in Course Design framework that should have been considered during the MOOC design process • Discuss with peers
  23. 23. Participant Responses to Case Study
  24. 24. Case Study: Redesign Advice for a US History Class Background: Mr. Vintage, a high school history teacher is planning to convert his faceto-face United States history class to a fully online format. Considerations • What are the initial steps Mr. Vintage will need to take to redesign his class? • See excerpts from course syllabus on next slide. Use the Course Design Framework for guidance • Discuss with peers and identify the initial steps Mr. Vintage might take
  25. 25. Case Study: Syllabus Overview One of the Course Objectives for US History Analyze and describe the ideological origins of the American Revolution, the Founding Fathers‟ philosophy of unalienable natural rights, the debates on the drafting and ratification of the Constitution, and the addition of the Bill of Rights Learning Methods: • Reading: Each day you will have a reading assignment to be prior to class • Test and quizzes: There will be a test for every chapter in the textbook. Tests may be composed of objective, short answer, identification, and essay questions. • Assignments: Essays, Oral presentations, Peer response, Creative projects Grading: Tests / Quizzes (60%) Assignments (20%) Class Participation (10%) Complete course objectives listed in PDF from CA dept of education: pages
  26. 26. Case Study: Redesign Advice for a US History Class • What elements in Phase I and II of the course design framework should Mr. Vintage consider when developing a plan for a fully online course? • Discuss with peers • Examples of online content sources: • US Constitution, Creating the United States, • Constitution Day Resources, Historical Documents,
  27. 27. Participant Responses to Case Study
  28. 28. Summary  Identify principles and phases course design  Identify the role course design plays in creating interactive and engaging courses that support learning  Review a model for course design and identify elements that contribute to effective course development  Determine through discussion how principles of course design apply to two course design scenarios
  29. 29. Resources Course Design • Big Dog & Little Dog‟s Performance Juxtaposition, • Four Excellent Resources for Course Designers, Online Learning Insights • How course Design Puts the Focus on Learning Not Teaching, Online Learning Insights • Ontario Online Learning Portal for Faculty and Instructors, Ontario Online Learning Portal • Start Here: Instructional Design Models for Online Courses, Online Learning Insights • Course Design Framework, webpage Ed-Tech Tools • The Top Tools for Learning 2013, Jane Hart • 10 Principles to Select Technology, Ontario Online Learning Portal for Faculty & Instructors • Electronic Learning Resources, • How to Choose the Best Ed-Tech Tools for Online Instruction, Online Learning Insights
  30. 30. Course Design Framework Feedback Got feedback on the Course Design Framework? Click here:
  31. 31. Questions and Discussion
  32. 32. Thank you! • Twitter: @onlinelearningIi • Blog: Online Learning Insights • Google+: Debbie Morrison