Thoughts On First Steps To Online Course Development

When developing  an online course for the first time you should focus your intentions on making the course experience positive. This generally translates to taking your time developing the right course materials and considering a variety of delivery options for presentations, lectures, or assignments.

Begin by outlining your course needs followed by you desires. Try to keep things  clear, concise, and comprehensive. Remember to stay organized and make sure you have included everything you need in your online course before you offer it. When your course is ready, have someone test it out and provide feedback. It is rare when we get it right the first time. No one wants to have to apologize for mistakes or omissions once the course has started. It is best to get everything worked out in advance. Test your course using the recommended browsers (all of them) to make sure that your course appears and functions as you intended. Desire2Learn recommends Mozilla FireFox and Google Chrome. Make sure your students are reminded of this.

Course appearance and navigation are important considerations as well.  You can alleviate frustration and confusion by keeping the design and navigation of your course logical. Check yourself: Do you provide clear instructions or a “Start Here” section? Can students move through your course with ease? Have you organized your content so that students can find what they need easily, and in one place? Have you checked due dates, published and draft dates, etc. for accuracy?

A best practice, consider how you might keep your course content manageable. Is there time to fully comprehend instruction and to develop meaningful understandings? Can you provide the material in ways that make it easier to understand (through audio or video)? Have you allowed sufficient time to complete the course requirements.

Once your course goes live, try to avoid making last minute changes. Often, students do not visit the course at the same time, so they may not see these changes in time to react to them. It is best to make changes when you have time to make sure you did not introduce any problems in the accuracy of the course flow.

Consider providing extra resources to help students succeed in your class. Do not assume that your students have all the knowledge and expertise to succeed in an online course format. Providing some additional tools, resources, or links can augment their online learning experience.