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Random Thoughts on Instructional Design

Guide to Planning Online Courses – Part 5 of 11

Select Material Delivery Methods

computer, pad and cdDetermine which materials should be delivered in the face-to-face component of your course (if your course has one) and which items can be delivered online. Avoid delivering materials that will distract the student from the course objective. Do not add irrelevant information to "fill-up" the course site.

Prepare the materials for electronic delivery. This may include scanning graphics, creating files in a word processor, developing web pages, or creating slides in presentation software. If necessary, consult the Blackboard Administrator, or the Instructional Designer.

You may find the following guidelines useful.

  • In the place of a written lecture, several instructional articles that distill the major concepts addressed in the lecture could be utilized. 
  • Instructional units should be short and concise documents conveying relevant, critical information to support concepts, procedures, and/or performance-based skills. The instructional unit should be written specifically to communicate the content-knowledge necessary for improved, more advanced performance.
    • Ensure that each instructional article supports the learning objectives/goals of the course.
    • Get the learner’s attention immediately by clearly making the topic relevant to something important within the learner’s frame of reference (e.g. job, studies, professional development)
    • Integrate questions or other interactive activities — such as exercises, problem-solving situations, and/or short simulations — into the body of the module
    • Always limit the module to one or two main ideas or concepts
    • Use only the most important "need-to-know" supporting details
    • When possible, support the module content with audio and/or video clips containing relevant information, such as "how to" instructions or examples that further clarify key learning points.
    • A case study may be included within the body of the module, encouraging learners to notice connections between the module’s text and the example as they learn a particular fact or concept. Alternatively, the course could be set up with a single case study that includes links to all the pertinent instructional units and student exercises. Learners would then use instructional units as needed to help develop solutions to the problems presented in the case study.
    • Simulations also may incorporate links to instructional units to be used as resources or prior research.
    • Self-evaluation typically tends to be quiz questions in multiple-choice or true/false format. You can increase motivation and learner interaction by using drag-and-drop design to match correct answers with their questions, or construct a game. In a crossword puzzle, for example, the critical cues for the Down and Across words could; be taken from the definitions of key terms within the course.

External Tutorials and Samples

  • Gagne and the Boys – This site is based on a WebQuest developed by Bernie Dodge. The product was created to assist students with the study of selected learning theories.
  • Industry Portfolio Project – This assignment requires learners to gather and organize a comprehensive collection of materials/information relevant to a specific topical area. The final product consists of a web-ready electronic portfolio and a 2-4 page reflective statement.
  • Taming the Mighty Migraine – This site provided an online problem analysis case for a graduate course in pharmaceutical marketing at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia.

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This entry was posted on March 28, 2006 by in Distance Education.

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