Developing Online Course Content
When designing online learning units it is still necessary for students to learn specific knowledge prior to moving on to more advanced levels of performance. In the classroom we use lectures – on the Web the linear presentation of lecture materials is not effective. In the place of a written lecture, several instructional articles and/or web sites that distill the major concepts addressed in the lecture are more appropriate.
Online instructional units should be short and concise modules conveying relevant, critical information to support concepts, procedures, and/or performance-based skills. An instructional unit should be written specifically to communicate the content-knowledge necessary for improved, more advanced performance.
When designing instructional units:
- Ensure that each instructional article, web site or game 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).
- In the body of each unit introduction provide an introductory paragraph, one or more explanatory paragraphs, and a summary paragraph.
- Integrate questions or other interactive activities — such as exercises, problem-solving situations, games, or short simulations into the body of the unit.
- Always limit the unit to one or two main ideas or concepts.
- Use only the most important "need-to-know" supporting details.
- When possible, support the unit content with audio and/or video clips containing relevant information, such as background information, "how to" instructions, or examples that further clarify key learning points.