(Re)Designing online courses: process that works
Post from February 19, 2019
#CreatingCourses could be a daunting task. We all want to build something useful, exceptional, something that is addressing outcomes of the course, and works well for our teachers and students. Once you are chosen to be a “course author” or decide to develop a course, you might find this post useful. It will describe stages of the course development that we found useful in our university practice.
To get the best results in developing quality courses we found useful to work together with the team that will include course author (subject matter expert), second reader (someone who also knows the topic), learning designer, and an editor. Every team member’s expertise is being utilized through the stages of the process. #CourseDevelopment process includes following stages based on the tasks and deliverables:
Try to develop sets of deliverables for each stage of the course development. It will help you to monitor the progress and ensure that you are on track. Below is the short description of the process.
Stage: Course Development
Planning and Analysis provides the team time to understand the needs of the students, reflect on how the course fits into the larger program (if applicable), develop course outcomes, and plan the timelines that will guide the course development and delivery process. It is suggested to start this process with creation of the team and a team kick-off meeting. During this stage, you will plan your course development process through the scheduling team meetings, orient yourself to the course design process, discuss course (re)development needs, possible course structure and outcomes, and review previous course evaluations by teachers and students (if applicable).
During the Designing stage, team develops the draft of the course map/plan: creates outcomes for the course and units of instruction, aligns them with learning activities, assessments and develops course flow/course schedule. Before the actual course writing can begin, a detailed course map/plan must be completed.
After the course map/plan is completed, course Development will begin. In this stage team discuss, identify and develop course resources, learning activities, learning objects, and assessment strategies that will be tied to the course and unit outcomes. In our scenario course author is the main writer of all course materials, who incorporates feedback from all team members into their writing if appropriate. In general, it is suggested that course author start working through the units of instruction one by one, submits units to the team for the feedback as soon as they are ready, incorporates feedback (if applicable), and then submits the draft to the editor for feedback. This will allow editor’s feedback being incorporated on an ongoing basis, to reduce the amount of editorial changes in the future completed units.
If interested please refer to the proposed components of the course in our programs from my other blog post.
This part of the course development is very important and time consuming. As course units are being developed make sure that you appropriately address course delivery model (continues enrollment or paced study), load on students and teachers, pace and logistics of the course (putting assignments after the course materials addressed the topic of assignment). Last item is the main oversights that we found is easy to miss, as course development process is complex, especially for the new course authors. Course map/plan is a good tool to help you avoid most of them.
If you are not teaching the course in the future be selective in what technology you include in the course and how it will be supported, as well, consider creating Teachers Manual – document where you will address specifics of the course components and outcomes to help ensure appropriate transfer of knowledge.
To fully benefit from the course feedback please ensure that you develop meaningful course evaluation process. You will have to collect feedback from teachers and students who participated in the course. We suggest that you include all unique parts of the course in evaluation to ensure that it worked as you expected in the course. Also good course evaluation will serve you well when you decide to update your course in the future.
Once the course (all components) is finalized by the course author and the course writing team, the development stage is considered being complete.
Stage: Course Deployment
Upon completion of the development stage of course development (and after the Editor is signed off on all components of the course), the course is sent to appropriate team for implementation and deployment. At this stage regular communication between implementation team and course author are crucial to ensure quality and proper implementation in LMS. Team members must finalize units of instructions in the course Template after deployment is reported as completed and no unapproved changes should be made in the course after this point. This concludes deployment stage and course can be moved to delivery.
Stage: Course Delivery
Once the course template is completed, it is usually handed over to the course production team for setup and delivery. It is important to note that offering of the course will not conclude the course (re)development process.
Stage: Course Feedback and Evaluation
Once the course runs for the first time, all participants are surveyed about the course experiences through the course evaluation questionnaire. The course feedback (including the experiences of course coordinator and teachers) is collected and analyzed by the members of the initial course development team. If necessary, a revision plan is developed and implemented.