Making sure that your online course has good organization and structure is one way to keep students motivated and engaged in the course. By considering the following, you will eliminate many student questions and provide a framework for the students to begin learning your topic and not be stuck on the technology or what your expectations are for how the class will be run. Plus the time that you put into these efforts before the class begins will save you considerable time when the first day of class begins!
- keep it simple and straight forward
- avoid too many clicks to get where you want to go
Clear Directions for getting started
- Announcement in Blackboard
- Tour of the course – JING example
- Getting Started Video example:
- Roadmap of course: How to I begin? and where will I go along the way?
- Technical requirements: plugins, viewers and players, document type limitations
- Course Management System help – details for how to get logged in
Thorough Course Syllabus and Course information documents
First contact assignment for asynchronous courses
The trick is to make this assignment something that can be done quickly using some of the tools that you’ll be using in the course. This is also used as a check to make sure that your students are able to access your content management system. Having a due date before with the last date to receive any tuition refund would be a benefit to the student who isn’t prepared for an online class.
- email instructor with an introduction or to tell you that they have or have not received the books/materials for the class
- introduce self on discussion board (or blog)
- syllabus quiz
- course management system scavenger hunt or schedule contract – assignment or task feature
- more information
Chunking material into weeks/modules/lessons and including everything one needs within that area to complete the lesson
Module (Unit, Lesson, Week) Structure
- Goals and objectives refer back to course outcomes
- Provide checklists for each week
- consistent font style and size
- use color and font formatting sparingly to make an emphasis
- don’t be afraid of white space!
- avoid using underlining as this can be confused with a link
- when using images make sure the image is giving off the correct message – Can learners understand your page by looking at the image?
Creating sense of community
- provide opportunities for students to gather (provide forum in discussion board for student lounge, coffee corner, or study hall or make elluminate available for students to use outside of class)
Provide resources for additional help
- technology related
- content related
- student support related