The purpose this site is to provide a starting place to begin the thought processes necessary to place a course on-line. It is not meant as the definative guide on on-line courses but merely to start the creative juices flowing.
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Writing an on-line class

Existing Paradigms a Good Starting Foundation

Classroom Vs. On-line Instruction

For the student (KOLB)

The New Paradigm

Classroom Instruction on the Internet

Where to find On-line classes

Things to consider before you begin

Some forms to get you started

Some guideline to consider

Balancing the Conversion Process

The Organization Exercise

The Flowchart

Interaction Design

Types of access

The Price of a Link

Question and Answers

Homework Assignments

Small Group Work and Instructor Contact

Other Basic Requirements

Notable Web Page Addresses


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing an On-line Class

 

Things to think about in creating an on-line class.

 

Research. Writing. Graphic Design. Interface Design. Programming.

By definition, the things people do on computer are interactive. Computers and software are tools, and their purpose is to help people interact with words, numbers and pictures. What's different for an on-line class in we is now using computer for activities that never used to be considered interactive. Computerized instruction that is meant to serve as the same two communication a student would receive in a face to face classroom setting.

In this brief guide on Instruction Design for On-line courses I will attempt to touch upon; what you need to gather in terms of your own materials, what types of people you may need to contact, and what areas you may need to consider that you may not have before.

 

Existing Paradigms a Good Starting Foundation

 

For Learning:

Learners have different styles

  • We maximum learning differences and retention when we offer many modalities that use all the senses. In anon-line class this is the coordination of Instructional Design, Interaction Design, and Presentation Design.

Categories of Learning

  • Recognition/Recall/List Order/Associate/Apply a Concept or Principle/Predict an Outcome/Compare and Contract/Evaluate/Synthesize/Adopt New Behaviors/Perform

Classroom Vs. On-line Instruction

 

Typical Classroom On-line Classroom
The Class Lecture The Web Page
Teacher asks a question Teacher presents a question on-line
Student asks a question Student sends teacher an e-mail
Teacher answers a question Student receives an e-mail from teacher
Students ask Each Other Students participate in discussion lists and chat rooms

 

For the student (KOLB)

Concrete Experience - the learner learns something

Reflective Observation - the learner read and thinks

Abstract Conceptualization - the learner uses abstractions

Active Experimenter - the learner does hands-on stuff

 

The New Paradigm

Many of the same teaching modalities make sense on-line. Only the way in which we approach them is different.

Old Paradigm New Paradigm
Lectures Real Audio or Real Video
Drills and Practice Repeatable On-line quizzes
Discussion Groups On-line Discussion Groups and Chat
Simulations Java an support on-line simulations
Read Material - Textbooks/Local Libraries The entire world and its libraries
Auditory and Visual Materials Real Audio and Real Video
Instructor Led Instructor Guided and Led

Four Levels of On-line Instruction

Fully Developed

Dependent

Supplemental

Informational

Click here for more information

 

Classroom Instruction on the Internet

Conventional Classroom Internet Classroom
Active participation/Passive Viewing Taking an on-line museum tour
Levels of Interaction Click to continue/Choose from option
Interactive Lecture Interactive Lecture
History of Computers
On-line French Class On-line French Class
Breaking the Conventional Mold A Public Speaking Class On-line

 


 

Where to find On-line classes

 

California Virtual University


Maricopa/Rio Salado


University of Phoenix


ZD University


 


Things to consider before you begin

 

Course Design

 

How should the course/content be organized?

  • The term course design suggests you are only arranging information. But organizing content in only one part of course design.

What content do you have the time/money/resources to create or obtain?

  • Content can only be organized after you've decided what you have the resources to produce or have produced for you. This is the result of practical project planning.

What technologies will you use to create and deliver the content?

  • Realistic planning is possible any when the project's scope and complexity are known. This depends largely on the authoring and delivery methods you choose.

Who do you want to reach, how can you reach them and what do they want?

  • The right technology for delivering the course consent depends on who will use it and how. This means finding out about the needs and interests of the audience.

What do you want the course to accomplish?

  • Who you want to reach and how, in turn, depends on the product's message and purpose. Course design begins here, not by arranging content, but defining goals,

Keep the five critical tasks in mind as to create your on-line course.

 

Organization * Planning * Tools * Audience * Goals


Some forms to get you started

Download self extracting forms file

 

Shifting the Paradigm for Lectures

This exercise should be completed for each lecture that is to be converted to an Internet-based offering.

Objective of this Lecture: ________________________________________________

 

What I Want Students to Know What I Want Students to be Able to Do
1 1
2 2
3 3
4 4
5 5
6 6
7 7

What materials am I currently using to support this lecture? (handouts, overheads, etc.)

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________________


Some guideline to consider

If you want students to Then you might need
Learn and Retain Clarity, simplicity, directness, repetition, and reinforcement, modular breakdown into short presentations, testing and remediation
Have fun Variety, surprises, randomness, and wit; unpredictable events that change each time the class section is used
Understand Conceptual explanation; how is works, illustration and video; graphs, charts, simulations
Experience High level of interactivity, user control of actions and events, realistic sights and sounds
Do research/Get answers Reference style organization, list references for fact access, searchable index of contents

The true test of you site/page/lecture is does its contents move the student closer or farther from the understanding of the subject matter presented?


Balancing the Conversion Process

 

Your student audience and their viewing environments are full of variables. You can not predict them and you certainly can not control them. But you can design your course materials to work well under a variety of probable conditions.

 

Here is another form to help you in the conversion process.

 

Converting Lectures

For each Internet-based methodology, note your plans. You may want to code your notes to match the objectives listed on the previous form.

 

Method Content to be converted to this method Questions, Notes, Links

Interactive Lecture

 

 

 

   

Exploration

 

 

 

   

Graphics/Video

 

 

 

   

Audio

 

 

 

   

Chat/Discussion

 

 

   

Guided Reading

or

Extra Reading

   

Questions and Answers

 

 

 

   

Other

 

 

 

   

Remember to keep your organization simple.

William of Ockham, a medieval philosopher know for many contribution of modern thought, is often cited for his Principle of Parsimony, stating that economy or simplicity is the essence of a good explanation.

 

Most collections of information will tend to have a natural internal structure of their own. As you begin to work with your own materials, you may see categories emerge on the basis of

  • theme or topic
  • size or scale
  • geographic location
  • historical sequence
  • narrative sequence

When converting class materials you may already have the basic structure for content. Don't ignore what has worked for you in the past. Don't reproduce the existing structure without asking whether you are really improving its content. For example, there may be opportunities to add value by improving access and usability;

  • providing direct links between related topics
  • providing easy and flexible ways to search the content
  • reorganizing content to support how it will be accessed and used

The Organization Exercise

 

Organizing information means more than just sorting information into categories. At the heart of every design project are value laden questions such as "How should this material be prioritized?" "What does the student need to know about this lecture?" and "What do they want to do with the information?"

The answers to these questions take shape as the content is arranged into topics and groups. As you begin to visualize the information begin used in various ways, put your self in the role of the student and see how the possibilities of various structures might work. It will become apparent where you might need a link or two to an outside reference or a graphic or even a simple reference to their text book.

Equipment you'll need:

A Pen------>paper------>tacks------>a wall

 

Step 1. List all possible categories.

  • These categories will come from several sources; the existing course outline and syllabus, your audience research, your content inventory of picture, overheads and other relater materials, and you imagination. The goal is to generate a list of content categories for your class. Don't worry about redundancy or the fact the bag and small categories are all sized together.

Step 2. Start to group things by topic

  • Begin by identifying the obvious meta-categories, which will become the top level subjects or pages the student will see first. Then start to move topics from the master list to sublists. Create only one level on sublists at this point or you will run the risk of getting bogged down in the small details.

Step 3. Refine the topic groups.

  • Move topics around on the subject list until they work. This is an iterative, trial and error procedure. You'll probably discover some item don't seem to fit into any category while other can span several.

Step 4. Arrange the groups into a structure.

  • The arrangement of the groups represents not just organization, but access. So while this step is similar in many ways to outlining you have done with paper documents there is one notable difference: the arrangement is not sequential. You will need to design one or more specific paths leading to every item.

As the course designer, you are a gatekeeper. Even though students make their own choices, it's up to you what choices they have -- what they see first, where they can go, and what they don't see at all.


The Flowchart

There are no firm rules about how a flowchart must look, as long as it works as a clear map to your information design.

Three forces drive the design of a flowchart:

  • Content: The organization and structure you've mapped to for the information you want to present.
  • Usability: The topic categories and access routes the student will expect to find
  • Simplicity: The need to keep the design clear and focused, to control development time and costs.

Interaction Design

Navigation * Access * Functionality

Interactivity in a course design means the the student not the instructor controls the sequence, the pace and most importantly what to look at an what to ignore. By simply "putting the student in charge" opens up an infinite range of possibilities: in charge of exactly what?

Critical tasks if interaction design

  • Create a guidance system to orient students (this part is done for you if you use TopClass as your course backbone)
  • Design the navigation and access routes
  • Define what happens in every screen
  • Design controls for interaction
  • Create a storyboard

A the big-picture level

  • motivating students to have positive experiences by giving them clear guidance and options
  • creating an interesting journey - or at least a clear path - though the information
  • giving users controls that allow them to go where they want and do what they want
  • making the experience as easy and intuitive as possible.

Levels of interaction

  • A simple interactive document may need only basic navigation control (such as those provided in TopClass)
  • An electronic catalog may need a database search and transaction capibilities
  • An in-depth Physical Geography course might need not only navigation and media controls, but control over objects and realistic 3-D simulations

Remember every link in your flowchart represents an access route you'll need to create


Types of access

 

Just as information can be organized to suggest a point of view access methods can also tell a story. There are many different access solutions: menus, lists, icons, buttons, maps.

Direct Access - is the simplest path between any two points in the course. One click and the student is where you want them to be. Here is today's test - one click.

Random Access - less is more. Random access and links between topics are two of the defining features in an interactive class. But complete freedom of access with unlimited links can create confusion for the students and design nightmare for you.

There are two levels of access:

  • Access to a new topic: Going to a new topic can be a major leap and a complete change of scene
  • Access within a topic: Bringing up new material within the same topic should be a subtle as possible to keep the student focused and as anchored as possible.

The Price of a Link

 

It is often considered desirable to provide a rich system of cross-links among topics. But each link carries a design price tag.

If the link:

    • Sends the user to a new location, access controls need to be created so the users can return without getting lost.
    • Brings material from another topics to the current screen that content may need to be redesigned to work in the new location

 

Question and Answers

 

This exercise should be completed for each class session that includes Questions and Answer section that are to be converted to an Intenet-based class.

 

Objective of this Questions and Answer Session: _____________________________________

 

What I Want Students to Know What I want Student to be Able to Do
1 1
2 2
3 3
4 4
5 5
6 6
7 7

Materials currently available to support this session: (handouts, overheads, Etc.)

____________________________________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________________________


Homework Assignments

 

This exercise should be completed for each class session that includes Questions and Answer section that are to be converted to an Intenet-based class.

 

Objectives of Homework Assignments: _____________________________________

What I Want Students to Know What I want Student to be Able to Do
1 1
2 2
3 3
4 4
5 5
6 6
7 7

Materials currently available to support this session: (handouts, overheads, are)

____________________________________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________________________

 


 

Converting Homework Assignments

 

For each Internet-based methodology, note your plans. You may want to code you answers to match the objectives of the previous form.

 

Method Content to be converted to this method Questions, Notes, Links

Interactive Lecture

 

 

 

   

Exploration

 

 

 

   

Graphics/Video

 

 

 

   

Audio

 

 

 

   

Chat/Discussion

 

 

   

Guided Reading

or

Extra Reading

   

Questions and Answers

 

 

 

   

Other

 

 

 

   

Small Group Work and Instructor Contact

 

This exercise should be completed for each class that is to be converted to an Intenet-based class.

 

Objectives of Small Group Work/Instructor Contact: ____________________________________

What I Want Students to Know What I want Student to be Able to Do
1 1
2 2
3 3
4 4
5 5
6 6
7 7

Materials currently available to support this session: (handouts, overheads, are)

____________________________________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________________________

 


 

Converting Small Group

 

For each Interned-based methodology, note your plans. You may want to code you answers to match the objectives of the previous form.

 

Method Content to be converted to this method Questions, Notes, Links

Interactive Lecture

 

 

 

   

Exploration

 

 

 

   

Graphics/Video

 

 

 

   

Audio

 

 

 

   

Chat/Discussion

 

 

   

Guided Reading

or

Extra Reading

   

Questions and Answers

 

 

 

   

Other

 

 

 

   

Other Basic Requirements

There are certain things you'll need to get started. These are . . .

A Text Editor/Word Processor

  • Any text editor. If it can save in plain (ASCII) text it will do. This means that anything from Microsoft Word to the DOS edit program will do. IF you are using TopClass to house your course then MS Word is your best choice. TopClass make a conversion program available to all users.

A Web Browser

  • Netscape Navigator, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Net Cruiser, whatever. In fact it is a good idea to use more than one web browser so you can test you course in various environments.

A Graphics Tools

  • This gets a bit trickier. In order to include a picture on a web page, it needs to be in the Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) or Joint Photographic Expert Group (JPEG) format. Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Photodeluxe will save indexed color files as Gifs or JPEGs, and here are a number of converters of the market as well.

Notable Web Page Addresses

California Virtual University Homepage
American River College Homepage
American River College Tutor Training
A million Great Ideas
Sun's Style Guide
Bobby Approved Sites (Accessibility Checker)
Code Validation Checker
Universal Access Symbols
Stroud's shareware/freeware software
TOCOWS shareware/freeware software
West Hills College's Mega Search Engine Page

 

 

© Copyright 1998 David-Michael Rengh. All rights reserved. The information and graphics contained in the pages on this Web site remain the property of David-Michael Rengh. All trademarks mentioned are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners. Adapted from course materials on "Putting your Class On-line"