To prepare for your Online Course, ask yourself some Questions:
- The first question you must ask yourself is, “why do I want to put this course online”?
- How does a digital environment enhance the student’s experience as he assimilates difficult subject area content?
Often when she analyzes the answer to these preliminary questions, a teacher may decide that creating a course online is not the way to go for student learning. There is no shame in this decision, you are a great teacher, and you’ve thought first about your students.
Student learning is the main focus of any online course creation process. If you are an educator (and not just a subject area specialist), you have spent many hours in education classrooms learning to write behavioral objectives.
- Behavioral objectives are specific action statements that illuminate what a student will be able to do that he was unable to do before being exposed to this lesson. This is why it’s called “behavioral”, what will the student DO that is different after he has learned and absorbed your course content.
- Behavioral objectives also describe learning outcomes that can be measured. A good lesson/course has strong objectives spelled out clearly. There must be an assessment process put forth in the course outline and syllabus, how will the teacher know the desired learning has taken place?
If you are a subject area specialist, it’s tempting to launch into a passionate soliloquy on the subject in question. You know the information, you love the subject, and how hard can this be? The fact is, it can be a very difficult task, and time consuming, to create a cohesive learning experience that you can take online for optimal student learning.
Another Question to Ask, Before you Even Start to Write your Syllabus is,
- Who is asking you to prepare it this way?
Is it just something you’d like to do, or has your principal or boss told you it must be done this way? If it’s the latter, you’ll need to sit down with that person to learn what their vision is and what they think this course should look like. If it is simply up to you, you’ll have greater flexibility in determining how you present the information.
Choose what kind of Course you want to Create
- A Synchronous Course
Synchronous courses are delivered and received in real time. Deadlines for work to be done are finite, often these courses can be repeated several times in a year so you have x number of students in an online class at any given time.
- An Asynchronous Course
An asynchronous course is “canned”. It’s usually an audio file with a Powerpoint presentation to go along with it. A student can take it at any time, the quizzes are auto-scored. There is very little or no interaction between student and teacher. There may be an email function, where a final project must be sent to the instructor for review, but usually not when the course is asynchronous.
There is a great deal of debate going on about this very thing. Some educators believe that a synchronous course is preferred because it actually has the possibility of having students learn together with some give and take. Adding a chat function within your content management system allows you to have sessions where students listen to a lesson, then interact with each other. This way, it mimics a real classroom experience and provides a better experience (so some say).
This debate will go on, for now though, it’s something you’ll need to think about. Lessons need to be crafted around the decision you make regarding synchronicity. You’ll be glad you sorted through this decision before you put pen to paper.
Sameer Bhatia is founder & CEO of ProProfs.com which is a leading provider of online learning tools for building, testing, and applying knowledge.Sameer has a background in technology with a Masters in Computer Science from USC (University Of Southern California) and is an ed-tech industry veteran.