4: Production Timelines and Processes
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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.
Proposals for New Courses
All proposed online courses will probably need to have the approval of someone before offering the course: a Director, a Dean, and/or a department head of the College or department to be offering the course. Online courses require extensive resources that must be covered by the instructor’s organizational oversight. Please have the proposal approved as you would any other courses through your department or company.
Ideally, a proposal for a new course will need to be submitted as soon as possible, at least one year before the course is offered. Minimum proposal lead time for shorter courses that are focused more on interaction (and therefore require less media production) could shorten the due date for proposals to six months.
Additionally, you will need to have already recruited a course design team as well as decided on which platform(s) to utilize in your course. If your institution or company does not offer these services for you, you should recruit from people you work with whose normal job duties cover various aspects of course creation (as their workloads allow). You may also seek out grants and teaching assistants to assist you as your department or college allows. The course design team should be noted on the proposal form.
Also note that a timeline for the creation of the course should be submitted with the proposal. In your proposal, you may also wish to include a reference to any quality standards you will utilize to evaluate the course. Online courses are generally expected to be completely ready to go by the first day the course is offered, so please plan to finish your design and pre-planned content and activities well before the first day of course (be sure to build in a few weeks at the end of the development process for quality review as well, depending on your review process). An orientation week before the course starts is a good idea for working out any kinks with your learners.
Creation of Approved Courses
Once a course has been approved, the creation process should begin immediately – within one week of the approval or less. This will include:
- Assign tasks to various members of your team.
- Create checkpoints with your departmental/organizational oversight to submit work in progress updates.
- Begin video creation (since video can take a long time to create, this should begin as soon as the course is approved).
- Begin creation of content.
- Create social media outlets, hashtags, etc. (if left to the last minute, someone may take the username/tag/etc. you want).
- Decide how the content created in the course will be licensed (see the chapter on Open Educational Resources for more details).
Within one month of approval, you should have at least one full module or week completed (including videos and graphics). This should be submitted to your departmental/organizational oversight or an instructional designer for review.
Within half the time between approval and when the course starts (ideally six months before the course begins), you should have at least half of the course completed (including videos and graphics). This will be submitted to your departmental/organizational oversight or an instructional designer for review. However, your departmental/organizational oversight or instructional designer may request more frequent updates for more complex courses.
One month before the course begins, everything for the course should be complete and ready to go. This should be submitted to your content and design reviewers for full review.
Any issues identified in the full review should be addressed by one week before the course begins.
Additionally, we recommend that sometime within one week before the course begins that you open the course for a test run with any interested learners to ensure there are no final issues.
Design Assessment and Review
The course development plan should include assessment and review of your course design. Your instructional designer should include this in the course design, but it may also require additional resources from you as the instructor. If you do not have internal quality standards to follow, you can utilize national quality standards, as referenced in the “Quality Review” section of Chapter 3, during both formative and summative assessments.
Formative Assessment is basically a review of the course content and design as the course is being designed. You should probably have at least one colleague review the content of your course several times to give you feedback on issues such as clarity, ease of navigation, content alignment, workload balance, and technical concerns. Additionally, the instructional designer will need to have at least one other instructional designer review the design of the course several times to provide feedback on the overall course design. One helpful suggestion for quality assessment is to first develop only one module or week of content and submit it for a formative review. This initial review should provide feedback in regards to the quality standards you have selected to follow. Then, take the feedback received and implement it as you continue the design of the course.
Summative Assessment is basically review of the course after it has been offered. This could consist of grades, participant feedback, or course data. Most of this will not magically appear, so you will need to plan for feedback as part of the design process. Course participant assessment techniques will be covered later in this book. Participant feedback can be gained from several sources, including Twitter feeds, pre- and post-course surveys, and forum posts. Course data can include all types of electronically collected information, from clicks on content links, to time spent on specific pages, to profile information. You will need to contact the course platform you use for specific details on what data is collected and how you access it.
Not only is course design assessment a good source for data in published papers, but it is also a good place to gain insight into how to update your course before offering it again. For example, you can review how well your student activities and assessments reflected the quality of the learning objectives based on what the results of summative assessment tell you. No course is perfect the first time it is offered, so updates and changes are expected after each offering.