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online course development
When I first began creating and teaching online higher education courses, I searched scholarly journals, instructional design resources, and quality standards for insights and guidance.
As the number of online courses and degree programs in higher education continues to increase, more faculty are being asked to design and develop online courses. Sometimes this course design and development process is done somewhat reflexively, in a short time period, and with limited planning and preparation. This is not ideal as it can lead to a more stressful course development process for instructors and negatively impact the quality of online offerings. This article will explore seven things that instructors should consider prior to developing an online course.
As an instructional designer and online instructor at the Community College of Baltimore County Catonsville, Dionne Thorne has worked with many instructors as they develop their online courses. Based on this experience, she offers the following advice on the course design process:
Much of what passes for an “online course” these days could more accurately be described as the electronic version of class hand-outs. These courses usually consist of a course description, a syllabus, lecture notes, reading lists, and assignment checklists. In other words, whatever materials a student might have viewed on paper in the past are now read onscreen, and whatever presentations a student might have watched in the classroom are now observed on their screen.
Online courses are increasingly being developed by a team of instructional designers, curriculum specialists, and instructional technologists. In the majority of cases, these courses feature standardized content such as a common syllabus and assignments, and reusable course modules and learning objects.
When designing an online course we tend to create the course based on our needs and time restraints, and often do not think of our students and the reasons why they are taking an online course. To effectively meet our students diverse needs, we must step back and ask ourselves:
Shortcomings of an online course are not always obvious to the person who created it or teaches it. That is why it is helpful to seek other sources of information to determine whether a course is meeting its objectives. Mary Hricko, library director and associate professor of library and media services at Kent State University Geauga Campus and Twinsburg Center, recommends doing this in the following three ways:
Jonathan P. Mathews, assistant professor of energy and geo-environmental engineering at Penn State University, teaches a high-enrollment (more than 400 students) general education online course, Energy and the Environment. Although he has two teaching assistants, the logistics of managing such a large class would be overwhelming without implementing the following course design and management ideas.
If you’re looking to improve threaded discussions in your online courses, consider using brief video clips as discussion prompts. When carefully selected and integrated into a course, these clips can lead students to higher-order thinking and appeal to auditory and visual learning styles.