Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Critical Design Factors in Online Course Structures

When you are developing online and hybrid courses, it is important to take the following design principles into consideration.
  • Overexplain everything
    Students can always skim materials, but they can't comprehend what you were "thinking" when you were writing unless you are specific and comprehensive.
  • Provide specific examples / samples
    Students will use samples and examples as benchmarks, and this also helps ensure that students understand any special formats, designs, or structures you expect in your assignments.
  • Author content in small “chunks”
    Creating your content writings topic-by-topic makes it easier to shuffle if the publisher releases a new version of the textbook. Also, it makes it easier to modify assignments, resources, and website URLs if they are stored in smaller, separate documents (rather than contained within a larger content writing).
  • Author content to be time-insensitive
    It is best to use your NEWS area of your course site to link to specific time-sensitive materials (website links, for instance). Doing so will limit the numbers of materials that will need to be updated each term
  • Accessible formats
    Make sure to caption all photos and graphics and transcript all audio and video segments. For more information about accessibility, view the site http://www.w3c.org/wai/
  • Note requirements in catalog and Week 1
    If you expect students to own and know how to use Microsoft Word 2007, make sure that you state it in writing in catalog and course schedule notes (students should be aware of your expectations and requirements before they sign up for the course). It is recommended that you publicly post your course syllabus; doing so will allow students to fully understand your course policies and expectations prior to registration.

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