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Steps to Design Online Course (SUNY)

Condensed from the article:
Student Satisfaction and Perceived Learning with On-Line Courses: Principles and Examples from the SUNY Learning Network 

SUNY Network

Overview of Method

  1. Get Started
  2. Create an Orientation
  3. Chunk Course into Modules
  4. Create Learning Activities in Course Modules
  5. Navigation
  6. Evaluation
  7. Walk through Course
  8. Get Ready to Teach
  9. After You Teach - Evaluate and Revise Course
    1. Course Development Process
      1. Step One: Get Started
        • Visualize course
        • Assess current instructional practices and relate them to on-line learning
        • Identify some learning activities and methods of evaluation
        • Draft profile of course
        • Successful courses begin with faculty who can articulate description of course
        • Use a narrative, conversational tone as if addressing a single student to    prepare profile of course responding to:       
          • What will I get out of taking this course?
          • What is this study about?
          • How is this course organized?
          • What exactly will I be doing when I take this course?
          • How will you assess my work?
          • What constitutes ‘good’ work in the course?
        • The answer to these questions will become foundation for actual course information and orientation documents.
        • Document details for course including prerequisites for participation such as additional software or special hardware or other media or tools, if guest speakers will participate
      2. Step Two: Create an Orientation
        The orientation documents familiarize students with the instructor, the course, and general course-related information.  Nine orientation documents provide students with the walls to their on-line classroom.
        • Welcome – introduces the instructor and the course
        • Contact Information – how to contact the instructor and his/her schedule
        • Course Overview and Objectives – details course and objectives
        • Readings and Materials – details the texts and/or materials to be used in course
        • Learning Activities – describes specifically each type of activity
        • How You Will be Evaluated – details how each activity will be evaluated
        • My Expectations – what instructor expects from students in terms of participation
        • Course Schedule – clearly outlines every activity including reading assignments, assignment due dates, scheduled tests and quizzes, special projects, discussions, and group activities. Titles and references to documents and modules in the course must be consistent for the schedule to be effective.
        • Next Steps – might include reading any posted announcements, posting a personal profile, participating in a ice-breaking assignment
      3. Step Three: Chunk Course into Modules
        • Determined by instructor’s pedagogical approach, the nature of the content or discipline, and the constraints and features of the on-line environment
        • Some course design structures include being arranged by topic, by task, by chapters in a textbook, by time frames, by steps in a process, by metaphor, or by combinations of the above.
        • This is the most important and most difficult step for faculty – faculty should create own course materials and determine structure of their course.
      4. Step Four: Create Learning Activities in Course Modules
        • List learning activities envisioned for each module – draft a title for each
          Keep short and descriptive - consistent naming conventions
        • List learning activities in a specific or logical order for each module
          Consider type, quantity, and pacing of activities for each module
        • Group activities in logical and consistent scheme across modules
      5. Navigation – create consistent navigational & instructional documents that explicitly tell their students where to go next and what to do
        Use same font
        Put in same location on pages
        Use consistent wording for the instructions
      6. Evaluation
        Review list of learning activities – how do you plan to evaluate student work, performance or learning for each activity
        Look at evaluation document in syllabus & orientation area – make sure it is consistent with evaluation of activities
        How will you evaluate discussion, if it is a component of course?
        Review workload for students and instructors
        1. How many students are they likely to have?
        2. What if they have small enrollments?
        3. What if they have very large enrollments?
        4. Will the activities planned still work?
        5. What alternatives are there?

        Give some thought to workload and course management
      7. Step Five: Walk Through Course
        • If time permits have outside reviewer such as a colleague or expert in the field review course looking for:
          1. content accuracy
            technical quality
            functionality
            user acceptability and usability
            issues associated with actual implementation and use of instruction
        • Evaluate and revise or refine the structure, materials, and activities during development phase
      8. Step Six: Get Ready to Teach
        • Encourage students to get familiar with the Web environment for their course
        • Incorporate warm-up activities in first module to introduce everyone to each other and to let students “practice” features of the Web-class environment
        • It is recommended that there is something new for students at least every two to three days
      9. Step Seven: After You Teach - Evaluate and Revise Course
        • Keep notes during the teaching phase of their course – issues, problems
        • Thoughts, general or specific, on the design, structure, pacing, and/or sequencing of the courses, or of any of the activities should be documented as the courses are taught
          • What worked well?
          • What did not? Why?
          • What could be improved? How?
          • Were discussions successful?
          • Were assignments and other activities successful?
          • Were students able to complete all the modules in the course?
          • Did most of the students complete the course?
          • How was the workload for the instructor and for the students?
          • Was the instructor able to keep up?
          • Was there anything missing?
          • Were there any points in the course where students did not do or understand the activity?
    2. Course management Tips

Faculty should do the following:

    • Log into their courses on a scheduled basis – especially at the beginning – gives students a sense of security
    • Respond to all student e-mail immediately – e-mail should be used for private   communication between student and instructor otherwise it should be placed in the appropriate place in the course
    • Check for and respond immediately to any student queries in the course itself
    • Grade and return evaluated assignments to students as quickly as possible
    • Check to see that students are responding in the appropriate locations in the course and address any problems immediately.  Keeping a course tidy and free from problems, false starts, or empty student documents created by accident keeps the “classroom” running smoothly, cleanly, and free of potential sources of confusion.