I am a long way from teaching my online course, but as I read and research and learn, I am becoming more aware of the many things I will have to build into it as I design it. In the course I am now taking, we are in the midst of analyzing another course—a real one—based on six categories that range from instructional and Web design to support and resources for students. As an instructor/facilitator I will have to do the following:
- Present the material in several formats (written, audio, video, PowerPoint, Web links) to appeal to students’ varied learning styles.
- Introduce myself and my qualifications; post a photo, bio, and links to additional information; list times of availability for phone or private email conversations; provide a way for students to give me feedback on my role and on the course.
- State explicit, achievable learning outcomes (goals) for the course as a whole and individual modules within the course.
- Furnish a clear, concise list of activities to be included/completed within each module or chapter.
- Give clear, step-by-step directions in every assignment
- Set up systems that allow students to interact with the material, each other, and me.
- Build a sense of community.
- Provide prompt and regular feedback to students on how they are doing.
- Keep students actively involved in learning.
- Design a visually appealing website that is easy to navigate and functions seamlessly.
- Provide information on technical competencies and requirements (hardware, software, connection speed).
- Be a presence in the course but not a dominant presence—a “guide on the side.”
- Explain expectations in terms of online behavior, honesty, honoring commitments, and copyright laws.
I’m sure there is a great deal more to learn and to include in my course, but this is what I know at this point. In our next module I think we will be designing a segment for the courses we plan to teach.