Online course development is becoming more and more popular every day. In this post, we will look at one approach to designing a course and there are at least 5 steps involved
- Needs analysis
- Learning objectives
- Learning experiences
These steps are essentially a modified version of Backward Design.
The purpose of a needs analysis is to determine the concerns the stakeholders have regarding the course you are developing. You take these concerns or “needs” and try to meet them in the course. For example, parents might be concerned that their kids need to develop problem-solving skills. This means that in the course you design there should be elements of problem-solving to meet this need.
How to conduct a needs analysis is a topic in its self. The primary goal is to collect data from stakeholders and this can be done through surveys, interviews, observations, etc. For those of you who are familiar with accreditation, it is often required that your institution do a site report before the visitation. This is done in part so that you know what you “need” to address to make your institution better.
Learning objectives identify what the student will do to learn. How many objectives to make depends on such factors as the needs analysis, the length of the course, general requirements, and the views of the teacher.
The main point to consider when making objectives is that they involve the student doing something to learn. If you, the teacher, are doing something then this is not an objective for the student but for you. An entire post on the details of learning objective development was already written at this blog and is available.
Assessment is the evidence of mastery of the objectives This can take the form of assignments, quizzes, tests, exams, papers, projects, etc. that are used in teaching. Most forms of assessment that are done in a traditional setting can also be completed in an online setting. The challenge is having the teachers think a little differently.
For example, many teachers struggle with having students do presentations online. However, this can be achieved by having students record their presentation and then provide a link inside the LMS for the teacher and or other students. You can even embed the link in a forum and have the teacher and students provide comments within the forum.
Quizzes are another concern for many teachers online. Instead, of using quizzes for a grade teachers can use quizzes to get feedback in terms of their understanding. For example, a quiz can be developed just for learning and not for correct answers to help students prepare for future assessments. By removing the points there is no need to worry about cheating.
Learning experiences involve content delivery to learn new material. Examples of this in a traditional classroom can include such things as lectures, discussion, readings, etc. In the online setting most forms of learning experiences can be reproduced.
For example, video lectures can duplicate traditional lecturing. In addition, forums can be used to duplicate discussion. The purpose of the learning experiences is to experience learning. This means that active rather than passive learning should be the goal if practical.
Evaluation has to do with getting feedback about the course to improve it. Most courses at the tertiary level already provide some sort of way for students to give feedback about the course and the teaching.
Course development is a key skill in online learning. A teacher must know what the major concerns are from the stakeholders and address these concerns as they develop the objectives, assessment, and learning experiences of the course. If you are successful with this it is then necessary to determine what the students think about the course. This is the process of improving and developing a course