The Prudent Professor's Guide to Online Course Design


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The Prudent Professor's Guide to Online Course Design

  1. 1. The Prudent Professor’s Guide to Online Course Design Janette Becerra University of Puerto Rico at Cayey [email_address]
  2. 2. This presentation provides a checklist of things you never had to worry about in the traditional classroom in terms of… <ul><li>Pre-work </li></ul><ul><li>Online environment </li></ul><ul><li>Course content </li></ul><ul><li>Assessment </li></ul><ul><li>Legal aspects </li></ul>
  3. 3. PRE-WORK <ul><li>Are you qualified (certified and/or trained) to be an online instructor? </li></ul><ul><li>What is your timeline for developing this course? </li></ul><ul><li>Do you need to schedule ongoing consultations with an instructional designer or with technological staff at your institution’s Office of Information Technology? </li></ul>
  4. 4. PRE-WORK <ul><li>How many students will you have? How will that affect the amount and type of assignments you plan for the course, and your ability to provide thorough, timely feedback? </li></ul>
  5. 5. PRE-WORK <ul><li>What teaching strategies do you use in the traditional classroom? How will you do this in an online environment? </li></ul><ul><li>Will your students be technologically literate? </li></ul>
  6. 6. ONLINE ENVIRONMENT <ul><li>Is your site visually attractive, with simple, clean lines ? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Good example </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bad example </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Is the site easy to navigate (“intuitive navigation”)? </li></ul><ul><li>Are font styles and content  layout consistent throughout the course? </li></ul><ul><li>Does the site clearly state the course code, title, department and name of the instructor? </li></ul>
  7. 7. ONLINE ENVIRONMENT <ul><li>Does the site clearly explain the minimum hardware and software requirements (compatible operating systems, browsers, plug-ins, broadband speed, etc.), or better yet: does it have a “browser check” button? </li></ul>
  8. 8. ONLINE ENVIRONMENT <ul><li>Does the site link to an introductory tutorial on the learning system (Moodle, Web CT or Blackboard, etc.)? </li></ul><ul><li>Does the site link to technical support and other course-relevant support services for students (e.g., Library, Disability Office, Writing Assistance, Computer Lab Assistance, Counseling, Ombuds, etc.)? </li></ul>
  9. 9. ONLINE ENVIRONMENT <ul><li>“ The first day of class”: tone, rapport, student engagement. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Have you provided a personal welcome message that includes a variety of media (e.g., image, audio, video, text, etc.)? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Are you giving students the opportunity to introduce themselves to you and their classmates? </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. ONLINE ENVIRONMENT <ul><li>How does the site use both verbal and non-verbal language? </li></ul><ul><li>Are graphics used wisely in your site? </li></ul><ul><li>Does every folder in your site have content? </li></ul><ul><li>Are all links active? </li></ul><ul><li>Does every hypertext link connect to a body of material, not just to another button, folder, or link? </li></ul>
  11. 11. ONLINE ENVIRONMENT <ul><li>Do all external links open in a new window? </li></ul><ul><li>If using multimedia, is it stored on an </li></ul><ul><li>  appropriate server (e.g., podcasts, blogs, etc.) rather than uploaded to the LMS? </li></ul>
  12. 12. COURSE CONTENT <ul><li>Is the course organized in modules or teaching units that are clearly identified, described and connected? </li></ul><ul><li>Is the first module or unit titled “Introduction” (or equivalent term) and does it contain the course syllabus, schedule, etc.? </li></ul>
  13. 13. COURSE CONTENT <ul><li>Does the syllabus comply with all institutional and departmental requirements AND also lists clear expectations in terms of: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Students’ participation standards </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Due dates of assignments </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Instructor response time and availability (turn around time for email, grade posting, virtual office hours, etc.) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Netiquette rules? (See model provided with this presentation) </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. COURSE CONTENT <ul><li>Is your syllabus clear on how you will handle students’ non-compliance with certain online tasks when they allege unexpected power outages, connection problems or computer malfunction? </li></ul>
  15. 15. COURSE CONTENT <ul><li>Are all textbooks and other reading materials available for purchase online or through electronic retrieval? </li></ul><ul><li>Is each unit or module designed on the basis of clearly expressed learning objectives? Are those objectives  measureable ?  </li></ul>
  16. 16. COURSE CONTENT <ul><li>Are learning objectives and guidelines given to students at the beginning of each new module or topic, instead of giving them all guidelines at the beginning of the course? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>checklists, rubrics, practice tests, sample documents </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Are subsequent modules kept hidden or locked until a certain date? </li></ul>
  17. 17. COURSE CONTENT <ul><li>Is content presented in a way that supports learning objectives, is engaging, understandable, and caters to multiple learning styles? </li></ul>
  18. 18. COURSE CONTENT <ul><li>Do you use file-naming conventions that help you and your students easily recognize the file at a glance? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In these examples, the &quot;M&quot; stands for Module. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Lecture Notes M1.ppt </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Study Guide M1.doc </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>  </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Assignments and forums (or discussion areas) should be similarly named: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>  </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Assignment 1 M1.doc </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Assignment 2 M2.doc </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Discussion Area M1 </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Discussion Area M2 </li></ul></ul></ul>
  19. 19. COURSE CONTENT <ul><li>Is site set up to allow instructor to provide frequent and timely feedback to students throughout the semester? </li></ul><ul><li>Are expectations regarding student-to-instructor and student-to-student interaction in the course clearly defined? </li></ul>
  20. 20. COURSE CONTENT <ul><li>Does the course include multiple methods of communication to encourage student engagement, including but not limited to chat, email, discussion questions, calendar, surveys, announcements, wikis, blogs, etc.? </li></ul>
  21. 21. COURSE CONTENT <ul><li>Do assignments, quizzes and exams measure the learning objectives? </li></ul><ul><li>Have you clearly stated the way in which grades on individual assessments translate to a course grade? </li></ul>
  22. 22. COURSE CONTENT <ul><li>Have you designed effective tests? </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Set of rules for online tests (open book tests, time limits, etc.) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Classroom tests administered by instructor or proctor </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Indisputability of your tests </li></ul></ul>
  23. 23. COURSE CONTENT <ul><li>Are you familiar with and ready to use the electronic grade book? </li></ul><ul><li>Are content and instructional materials up-to-date? </li></ul><ul><li>Did you check all course documents and assignments for spelling and grammar? </li></ul>
  24. 24. ASSESSMENT (not counting toward the final grade) <ul><li>Does the course evidence the use of summative assessment techniques? </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Of students’ learning </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Of each learning module or unit </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Of students’ feedback on how to improve the course  </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Of students’ feedback on how you can improve as an instructor </li></ul></ul></ul>
  25. 25. ASSESSMENT <ul><li>Does the course evidence the use of formative assessment techniques? </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Students’ self-evaluations </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Practice tests and quizzes </li></ul></ul></ul>
  26. 26. LEGAL ASPECTS <ul><li>Does the course site comply with the ADA Act and Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, as well as state laws governing accessibility requirements? </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Every content element must have a text equivalent that can be read by assistive devices, etc. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Consult with your institution’s technological and legal staff. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Visit for details </li></ul></ul></ul>
  27. 27. LEGAL ASPECTS <ul><li>Are synchronous activities (chat, live sessions, etc.) optional ? </li></ul>
  28. 28. LEGAL ASPECTS <ul><li>Is your course in compliance with copyright legislation? </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>TEACH Act </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>For specifics, visit: </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Also visit: </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>for detailed descriptions of possible copyright infringements regarding links to external web sources, video or audio in an online course. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  29. 29. LEGAL ASPECTS <ul><li>Does your site clearly warn students against plagiarism? </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Explain academic and legal consequences </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Provide links to style manuals </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Benefit from free plagiarism detection tools such as Plagium, Approbo, PlagiarismDetect and Doccop or purchased software such as Turnitin . </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>BEWARE: students’ legal claims have and could come up! For more information, visit: </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> (2002) and compare to subsequent court rulings: </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>2004: Student wins legal battle to refuse to submit to Turnitin: </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>2008: Students lose battle: </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  30. 30. LEGAL ASPECTS <ul><li>Have you considered the tone of your responses to students? </li></ul><ul><li>Are you using private email for sensitive communications? </li></ul>
  31. 31. LEGAL ASPECTS <ul><li>Are you prepared to be evaluated, both by peers and students, in areas such as…: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Level of both YOU and your STUDENTS’ interaction in the course discussions and other communications </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Response time to students assignments and communications </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Functionality and quality of links, graphics, etc.? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Language use? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>… every “day”? </li></ul>
  32. 32. A “prudent” professor is one who… <ul><li>Exercises skill and good judgment in the use of resources </li></ul><ul><li>Acts with caution or circumspection as to danger or risk </li></ul><ul><li>Acts with or shows care and thought for the future </li></ul><ul><li>ONLINE TEACHING is the future. </li></ul><ul><li>Embrace it with prudence . </li></ul>
  33. 33. Other useful resources: <ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>Vai, Marjorie, and Kristen Sosulski. Essentials of Online Course Design. A Standards-Based Guide. Routledge: New York (2011). </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>“ Best Practices in Designing Online Courses”, Las Positas College, California </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>