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Book: Creating Online Learning Experiences (Crosslin)

  • Page ID
    11063
  • The purpose of this book is to provide guidance and advice for instructors who would like to develop an online course. The overall goal is to provide some clarity about many of the steps required to propose and design a course, to describe the resources needed, and to explain the roles of the stakeholders. Online courses generally take much longer to develop than most people realize. The information in this book is very important in that it is based on practical experience gleaned from those that have designed and offered successful courses. But why “learning experiences”? Most people think of learning in an official capacity as a course. The design of a course is often referred to as instructional design. Sometimes courses are designed by the instructor, but in other instances specific people other than the instructor provide the role of instructional designer. Over the past decade, changes to the online world have resulted in newer ways of thinking about learning that go beyond instruction and courses to learning experiences. Our hope is that, if you have already not begun to think in terms of learning experiences, that this book will help you transition your thinking in that direction(or continue to evolve it for those that have already started).

    For many, the arrival of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) created a new paradigm of learning where some courses could be massive and open to anyone in the world (even though that had been happening in several places long before MOOCs were a thing). The other end of the spectrum from MOOCs would be small online courses with limited enrollment – which many think of as traditional online courses. Then there are many courses that fall in the middle of these two points: massive limited enrollment courses, small open courses, and so on. This book will cover as many issues common to all of those options as possible.

    • Front Matter
      “Online learning experiences” is a broad term that covers a large number of contexts and possibilities. Not all ideas and processes covered in this book are going to work in every learning context. We encourage you to evaluate each idea presented against your specific needs and only use those that will work for you (but also, feel free to remix as needed).
    • 1: Overview of Online Courses
      Traditional online courses come in many varieties, from small cohort models to large “lecture hall” courses of hundreds. Some of them are also considered “blended” or “flipped” in that they meet partially in person and partially online. Some traditional online courses even integrate open features like Open Educational Resources (OER), social networking tools like Twitter, and collaborative learning.
    • 2: Basic Philosophies
      Most (but not all) courses tend to be either focused on the instructor as dispenser of knowledge, or the learner as self-guided constructor of knowledge. Many courses are a mixture of both, but gravitate towards one side or the other regardless. Courses of any size can be either student-centered or instructor-centered, so you will first need to decide which direction your course will (generally) take.
    • 3: Institutional Courses
      While online courses could potentially cover any topic, your institution or company may have a specific niche within the online learning world that they focus on. Or you may have the freedom to cover any topic you like. Either way, there are several areas related to online course design that you should be familiar with before you propose and create a new course.
    • 4: Production Timelines and Processes
      Once you are familiar with online learning in general and the tools you will need, you will need to decide if a MOOC or a regular online course is the right choice for you. Once you have decided which the best choice is, the next step is to begin the official proposal process.
    • 5: Effective Practices
      In general, there are many different ways to design online courses that work in different contexts, and many ways to design online courses that do not work in various other contexts. We are avoiding the term “best practices” here because online teaching and learning can vary in different contexts, making “best” a problematic term.
    • 6: Creating Effective Course Activities
      In order to cross over from passive content consumption into active learning, you will need to make real-life activities the focus of your course content (Hayes, 2015). Activities can be discussions, interactive assignments, blogging, and social media participation – or could even involve learners themselves creating content and activities.
    • 7: Creating Effective Course Content
      Content can be videos, text, webpages, and textbooks. While MOOCs are typically lighter in these areas than a typical online course, traditional online courses can also be light on content, while MOOCs can be heavy on content. This content can be external to the LMS platform, or hosted inside of it. Since we encourage a focus on active learning over passive consumption of content in courses, we also encourage you to consider the activities first and then add content to support those activities.
    • 8: Open Educational Resources
      The section on openness in the previous chapter touched on the concept of “open” as being more complex than just “free.” In a more formal sense, educational resources that are released openly are often called “open educational resources” (OER). But there is often more to OER being considered “open” than just price. The OER Commons define OER as “teaching and learning materials that you may freely use and reuse, without charge.
    • 9: Assessment and Grading Issues
      Grading and assessment in learning is a complex subject that can (and often does) fill an entire book alone. It is also an area that all instructors with any experience in teaching know well. Grading can run the gamut from informal off the cuff questions thrown out spontaneously in class to gauge understanding, all the way to extensively controlled, proctored high stake tests.
    • 10: Creating Quality Videos
      Video production is a time-intensive process that requires extensive planning and preparation. Please review the following sections to ensure that you have allotted enough time and resources to create the desired amount of video you would like for your course.
    • 11: Utilizing Social Learning in Online Courses
      You may have noticed that many online courses utilize social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter. While there really is no one right way to utilize social media in a course, there are concepts and designs that work better than others. This section will cover some ideas and suggestions for social media usage in your course.
    • 12: Mindfulness in Online Courses
      Online courses have given learners across the globe a unique opportunity to learn outside of formal educational settings and in less supervised environments. The independent nature of this form of learning heightens the need for learners to have the tools to both initiate and manage their own learning. Moreover, as individuals engage with content, instructors, and fellow students exclusively online, an explicit focus on techniques meant to deepen the learning experience becomes more important.
    • 13: Advanced Course Design
      While there is no standard or threshold for what makes something “standard” or “advanced” course design, there are many ideas and structures (or lack of structure) that would be considered “cutting edge” or “experimental” by many. This chapter will briefly touch on a few of these that you can try in your courses. There are many others beyond these. If you can think of something that is outside of what is covered in this manual, but would be a good idea for your course.
    • 14: Marketing of an Online Course
      Now that you have successfully planned your course it is time to tell the world about it and get those enrollment numbers moving. For those in more traditional institutions and companies, this may just mean getting your course listed in the course catalog or company newsletter. However, for other courses (especially MOOCs), you might need to do a lot of the promotion yourself. For those that need to self-promote their course, here are some tips.
    • Conclusion
      At the end of the day, you will probably be the best person to lay out your own process for creating a course. Take the ideas you have learned here (or maybe refreshed your memory about) and just start somewhere. This manual follows the way that some generally follow when they create a course, but you may want to remix or reorder to fit your needs. Just keep your learners and their needs central to whatever process you decide to follow.
    • Bibliography
      Bibliography for all chapters.