Perhaps you’re a classroom teacher who is looking for alternative ways to use your professional talents. Perhaps you’ve been an online instructor for a class that you feel could be improved upon. Maybe you are looking for a new challenge to extend your experiences, or you are hoping to pursue online teaching/course development activities that will lend itself to a more flexible working schedule. Whatever your reasons, online course development raises many questions, such as:
o What will my students use as a textbook?
o What other resources will I use to supplement the textbook?
o How will the student obtain information on starting the course?
o How can I make the online experience “student friendly”?
o Where in the Learning Management System will the student have access to a course in miracles obtaining and submitting assignments?
o How will the student be graded?
o How will the student access his/her grades?
o Will the student be able to view his/her overall progress?
o How will the student communicate with the instructor?
o How will the students communicate with each other?
o What deadlines does the student need to be aware of?
As a course developer, online instructor, and former student who obtained my masters degree online, I have several practical suggestions and tips for successful online course development.
o Remember the three most important parts of teaching in both face-to-face and virtual environments are:
o Therefore you want to establish methods for student-friendly correspondence. A Discussion Board that allows you to post ongoing tips and deadlines will be helpful for both you and the student.
o Include a “Getting Started” navigation button where the students can find all of the information needed to proceed with the course.
o If the course has regular deadlines, provide a timeline for those deadlines, one that the students can print out.
o If a course does not have regular deadlines but rather only has a course completion deadline, provide a timeline so that the student can stay up-to-date with the course.
o Include a navigation button that contains all necessary information the students needs to b successful in the course including where to access and submit assignments, deadlines/timelines, how to contact the instructor and other students, where to find grades, textbook/etext information, how to contact the Help Desk(s), and any other information that you feel would make the experience better for the student.
o Research textbooks you can use for the course. If there is an online textbook that would be a good choice for the course, use it! This can make the online experience much easier for the students (they can readily access their work online) and the teacher (many online texts also provide environments for course management such as posting assignments and grades).