Finally we get to my favorite topic of this blog series Bring your Online Learning Strategy into Focus– DEVELOP your online learning strategy. If you missed the first three parts of this series, check out ENVISION, RESOURCE and PLAN your online learning strategy.
The design and development adventures of online learning are why I love my job. Not delivering content, but working back and forth between the intricacies of faculty presence, content curiosities, creative presentation, technological capabilities and student expectations to create meaningful learning experiences.
Each new program and course presents a unique and fascinating set of challenges for how to create a significant learning experience- how to make the time a student spends in the course worthwhile- for a lifetime. To shape spaces for changes in student’s knowledge, skills, and behaviors in meaningful ways through education. This is where our passion lies at Full Tilt Ahead, and this is why we have pursued more and more knowledge and experience about online learning tools, spaces and personalities.
The central questions for this part of the process are:
What does good online learning look like? And how will you know?
Consistency and clarity in all aspects of the learning environment are important so students know what to expect, where to find things, and what commonly used terms mean in this context. Students derive meaning from the structure and need guidance. Also, be purposefully redundant with the placement and navigation paths of important materials.
Smart structures also help faculty. We have all heard HORROR stories of faculty workload & wasted effort. Your developers should offer pre-built materials that can be automatically filled out by faculty so they do not have to reinvent the wheel each time. It will help accomplish the goals of structure and clarity and help maintain a consistent experience for students across courses.
Yet, each course will still have its own culture and unique needs. Allowing for customization is a priority to respect creativity and freedom, and acknowledge that every faculty member is a course designer.
It is also very important to support integration for a variety of media and forums focused on interaction. There are many technology tools to engage students for every teaching objective and style—so providing guidance for how to make these choices or requiring the use of a small suite of tools already supported at your institution can be an essential part of the online development process.
Oh it’s hard to shut me up once I get started on this topic— please follow-up and download our free eBook on this topic e-Learning Course Design and Rationale and watch this 7 minute video covering 7 Learning Design Principles for Online Classrooms. These resources are brief distillations of the best practices and even imperatives we have identified for creating good learning environments that work for administrators, faculty and students.
Here’s your TO DO List:
- Seek expert and experienced input on course design and development
- Arrange for designers and subject matter experts to collaborate on course environment design
- Require an iterative approach to design and development
- Provide support and resources for course development, tool training and course facilitation to faculty and staff
- Request regular status updates to monitor progress
- Require designers to provide rationale for choices