Design Advice for New Courses

Making the transition from a face-to-face course structure to one that includes technology can be daunting. This blog post will list a few items that can help make your course more manageable for students and you.

1. Use discussion boards effectively.
Make your first discussion one that is centered around your expectations for student contributions. Clearly state the role grammar, spelling, and punctuation will play along with some general netiquette rules. State what your role as instructor will be for each discussion as it might change as the conversations change. Create a safe and friendly environment that discourages negative or easily misunderstood comments. Model appropriate participation and encourage clear, concise and authentic communication. Make it clear the level of participation students are required to exhibit to fulfill the requirements.

One way to kick off conversations is to create a low stakes discussion at the start of the semester that asks students to introduce themselves to the class. Be specific as to the details they should include like major, study habits, where they live or work, interest in the course topic, and plans for the future. Keep the discussion relevant to the course topic so that this information can be used later to form work or study groups.

2. Use video clips to promote face-to-face or online discussions.
Integrating video clips from Teacher Tube or You Tube into an online course can stimulate discussions by providing a intriguing prompt. An interesting way to present the videos is to embed the clip into a pop up announcement that catches student attention as soon as they enter the class. By embedding video, students do not have to leave the learning management system (LMS) to go to an outside site, and instead can watch and then go directly to the discussion board to reply to a question that leads to further investigation of content.

Some excellent resources for video are: the textbook publisher, MERLOT, TeacherTube, and YouTube. Here at CSU Chico videos are uploaded to a separate server and then linked to in the Vista LMS. To find out more about the video server, please call TLP.

3. Design with change in mind.
Rarely is a course ever considered to be “finished” to the point where no changes are needed. At a minimum, a new syllabus will be added and dates changed on assessments and assignments to reflect the new semester. Keep this in mind as you organize and label your content so that it can be moved, changed, or deleted.

Course content, or the guts of the course, is probably less likely to change than other elements unless a new text is chosen or standards have changed. However, if the content is dependent upon up-to-date information or discoveries in a field, then be prepared to edit content information. Be sure to check for out-dated articles that reference time sensitive information and remove them from the course or notate them with a message saying why the content is still worthwhile.

If one uses a learning module approach to course structure, swapping out-dated content is easier than searching through folder lists. By using this method you can look at the topic, supporting readings, supplemental readings, videos, discussions, and assignments to see if they still meet student learning objectives as well as relevancy to the topic. Finding and deleting a supporting document is easier when is it presented with the entire unit of study.

If this is your first time to put content online for your students, please consider coming to the Technology and Learning Program for a consultation. We can be reached at: X 6167.

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