Tuesday, January 4, 2011

To online or not to online, part 5

One of the primary decisions that an online course designer/teacher must make has to do with the overall structure of the course. I see it two ways:

1. Thematically
2. Chronologically or unit/module-driven

Thematically would be to create folders (or sections) of the course based on typical course issues. A folder/section on paper/speech/project/homework assignments; a folder/section on study or reading guides for tests; a folder/section for notes/PowerPoints/online lectures/ recordings; a folder/section for rubrics, etc. This has the value of guiding a student to what he or she wants. The student knows he or she is looking for homework, so to the homeowrk file it is.

2. The chronological or unit/module method would be based on the content of the course. For example, in my speech class we have four speeches, with lecture content oriented toward each one. So I have four folders, each containing all the assignment specs, rubrics, samples, and lectures related to that speech. However, I have a separate test folder for study guides.

The discipline of the course and other factors will determine which way you go. However, consistency and clarity are the main criteria. Students have to be able to find things easily, and the course designer/teacher should do a midterm evaluation to see if the students are able to find things logically and quickly.

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