“Distance learning is here to stay. Educational institutions should have a vision for what type of distance learning programs they will implement and the standards they will hold to. Institutions will master distance learning, or in some cases, distance learning trends and demands will master the school.” This is the conclusion of Joseph McClary of Liberty University in his article, “Factors in High Quality Distance Learning Courses,” appearing in the Summer 2013 issue of the Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration. In it, he examines the components of a high quality distance learning course and some of the barriers to their development.
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designing distance learning courses
An online course is like walking into a foreign land with an entire map laid out, but having no sense of the land’s origin or how to navigate the terrain. How the instructor formats and interacts with the class will ultimately determine the student’s travel experience. The purpose of this article is to provide an understanding of how the elements of an online course are integrated such that they form a cohesive whole that creates easy travel based upon instructor presence, appropriate feedback, and easy navigation for students.
Online courses are rarely “done.” Over time, things change, including the curriculum and content (because of changes in the field and changes to available content) and the technologies (ways that the content can be delivered and tools for interacting with it and with others in the courses, including you).
When you think about all the reasons why a college or university would want to offer courses online, “Because it’s easy” isn’t one of them. Yes, it’s a smart way to grow your programs and reach a greater number of students. Yes, it can be an attractive revenue stream. And yes, in order to attract today’s learners – adult and traditional-aged students alike – you likely need an online offering.
Faculty need to consider learning objectives, learning styles, accessibility, cost, and available technical support when designing distance learning courses, says Laurie Hillstock, manager of distance learning at Clemson University.
Hillstock works with faculty to develop satellite, CD-ROM, and Web-based courses using a design model that is roughly 80 percent asynchronous and 20 synchronous. Within this model, instructors can…