As you think about your course, the first thing you'll need to do is to identify the content area, grade level, and specific content objectives. You'll also need to think about how students will use it (when, how, what will it take the place of, etc.).
Then think about a syllabus or outline for your course. Depending on your course, this might include a pacing guide or it might be more flexibly self-paced. Regardless of the format, you'll need to think about instructional design, content, assessment, and student engagement.
Of course, you'll also need to identify the platform in which you'll host your materials. For this course, you may develop in any platform. Your choices may include (but are certainly not limited to):
Any online learning platform your school uses
Moodle (either hosted at your school, on a 3rd party site such as one of these, or at K12 Open Ed, providing that you will not need accounts for children under 13, which we are not equipped for)
Blackboard (either hosted at your school, on a 3rd party site like CourseSites)
P2PU (again providing that you will not need accounts for children under 13)
A wiki (free, hosted options could include Wikispaces or PBWorks.)
These are all tools for the asynchronous part of the course. There are also tools that you can use for synchronous web meetings. Some of them are:
* These are free, open source tools that we'll try out in this course for webinars. Perhaps others in the course would like to host a session on other tools so we could see a variety.
(Please feel free to add any other favorite tools to either of these lists.)
Post a brief description of the class (and/or subset of learning materials) you are focusing on building for this course. (Again, you may do this on your own blog and post a link here if you prefer.) Include the target audience, your specific learning goals, and the platform you will use, as well as any additional thoughts you have on instructional design at this point.
PLEASE NOTE: Your project for this course can be as big or small as you like. It doesn't have to be a whole course or webinar. It can be something as small as an assessment activity or a set of rubrics. Do whatever works for you, and choose something manageable given the timeframe and your other commitments. :)
What makes a good online or blended course?
Whether online or blended, some of the characteristics of high quality courses are that they:
can be used anywhere and anytime
allow students to guide their own learning through options and differentiated learning opportunities
are more student-centered, less focused on content transmission, and more interactive than traditional classrooms
allow students a high degree of interactivity with the teacher and other students
include formative and summative assessment
Here is a rubric that can be used to evaluate online courses: Checklist for Evaluating Online Courses (Southeast Regional Board of Education; all right reserved; pdf)
How do your own ideas about quality map to the rubric shown above? What is included in this rubric that you had not considered before? Post your thoughts about what is important in building high quality online course materials.
Use the rubric iteratively as you develop your own course materials and refine them accordingly.
Often when we think about instructional design, we begin with a list of the content that has to be covered. However, there is a different approach that begins instead with the goal.
This is the idea behind "backward design" approach to learning.
As you think about the content you will include in your course, begin first by thinking about the learning objectives and how you will assess that those objectives have been met. After you have done that, begin to think through what activities will support the objectives and what content students need to complete those activities or projects.
As you think about the learning experiences students will have as they move through your course, you will also want to think about differentiating instruction and how to engage students.
Course navigation and look and feel
One important part of course design is the navigation of your course. It should be clear and easy to follow. Students should readily be able to figure out where to go and what to do.
How you organize your navigation will depend on the specifics of your platform.
Similarly, you will want to think about the look and feel of your course. Some platforms give you more or less control over this, but most include a way to set things like banner art, button design, etc.
Keep your course look simple and make sure it is age appropriate. If you are designing for young, elementary-age children, try to keep the amount of text reasonable. For younger children, larger fonts and bright colors or animations may also add an element of fun.
Once you get your course navigation and look and feel set up, try it out with students typical of those who will be actually using the course. Get their opinion, see what problems they have, and then iteratively revise your course accordingly.
In designing online materials, whether it is navigation, content, assessment, or other course features, iterative design is the rule!
Credit: Karn G. Bulsuk, CC BY