Faculty who are experienced in online teaching will tell you that a great deal of work and time goes into designing the course. Due to the need for enhanced organization, the fact that students work through materials at varying times (within course parameters), and the time it takes to build and deliver an online course in a Learning Management System, the course needs to be fully designed before it begins. That is not to say that changes cannot or should not be made along the way; certainly online course instructors should be responsive if something isn’t working well – this remains a best practice for all teaching. Additionally, there’s nothing wrong with, for example, recording content videos to post as the semester progresses, but to attempt to plan an online course structure, schedule, and assignments and/or build everything in Canvas “as you go” would be a mistake.
Because of the need to “front-end” much of the work, designing an online or hybrid course can feel daunting at first, but it can quickly become quite satisfying. What might be lost in spontaneity certainly is gained in coherence! Planning the course in this holistic way facilitates a sharper focus on the alignment of learning goals or outcomes, learning assessments, and learning activities. And this is where your design process should begin.
Quick Tips from Learning Academy Faculty Consultants for Online Teaching
User experience is key! In addition to organizing your shell in weekly modules with clear written and recorded video instructions, make sure that everything students need is accessible when they need it. Link to assignment instructions, embed videos and files, and do not send students on an Easter Egg Hunt to find what they need to do the work. – James Hutson, Associate Professor of Art History
I always begin courses with a “Get Started Here” module, which serves as the course introduction and includes helpful links. Courses are set up in weekly modules, which includes all of the content and assignments the students need for each week. Each module includes an overview, where I upload either a video or narrative explanation of that week’s objectives and content. Each module concludes with readings for the following week. – Michelle Whitacre, Assistant Professor of Teacher Education
Topics in Course Design
Designing Learning Activities for Online or Hybrid Courses
We’ve all heard the time active learning, but what does that really mean? When students are engaged in learning activities that involve them in ways beyond receiving information via transmission (i.e. the instructor tells students something and they listen to and comprehend it), they are actively learning (Bonwell & Eison, 1991).