Online learning (or elearning) is constantly growing, with courses on a wide variety of topics available at many websites. Some universities provide free courses on academic subjects. Check the list on the Smart Skills page and more at this Pinterest board.
Courses can vary widely in the content presented and the media they are presented in. So what defines a course?
- program of study: a program of study or training, especially one that leads to a degree or certificate from an educational institution
- class taught at educational institution: a session or series of sessions that students attend to learn a subject, often as part of a school curriculum that leads to a degree or certificate
Whether you are consuming or creating online learning, consider the meat and the sizzle!
The meat…WHAT will be learned? What are the measurable learning objectives? Course design choices for methods, media, and learner experience are based on the cognitive domain revealed by the measurable verbs in the objectives.
Content: what information is included? Is it logically organized with a beginning, middle & end and presented in small chunks? Does the Introduction explain the benefits of learning, and immediately grab attention? Does it appeal to different Learning Styles (Visual, Auditory, Tactile/kinesthetic)
The sizzle…HOW will it be learned?
In course design, the goal of all choices for methods, media, and engagement is to add clarity and interest:
- Methods– Lecture, reading, demonstration, activities, exercises, projects, assignments
- Media– Handouts, text, presentation, visuals, audio, video
Gamification Pinterest Board | Learn about Gamification with a course at Coursera.org
- Instructional Design Tools
- [Bloom’s Taxonomy Wheels] provide examples of choices based on cognitive domains revealed by objectives.
- the Rapid Elearning blog (where I first became fascinated by instructional design)
The best courses provide an engaging learner experience with relevant quotes, examples, stories, humor, discussion, questions, interaction, practice, feedback, role playing, case studies, scenarios, simulations, gamification…
Take a look at these highly interactive learning activities:
- Interactives at Discovery Education
- National Geographic – choose Interactive
- UFO sightings at History.com
WHAT will be the outcomes? How will results be measured? How many learners actually complete the course, and did the course really teach what it set out to? Tests, surveys…
Courses on Course Design
- Basic Instructional Design Principles slideshare
- Elearning at How Stuff Works
- Instructional Design Models at instructionaldesigncentral.com
- Case Studies from Kineo.com
Examples of outstanding elearning:
- From Articulate
- From Cathy Moore
Course Outline Template (doc)
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