Tag Archives: course design

eLearning Instructional Design

My 10 Commandments*

BibleImage via Wonderlane

Thou Shalt:

1. Engage, engage, engage.

eLearning can be a cold, lonely place. Interactivity, graphic images, audio/video, and even themes are fun and motivating, making abstract concepts more concrete and increasing learning. Use of games or game-influenced designs, based on exploration, problem-solving, and trial and error, where students get lost in the fun and forget they are learning, work well even in higher education.

2. Chunk – in bite-sized chunks.

Research shows, time and time again, online students resist long “anything” – long passages of text, long modules, long tests, (long blog posts), etc.

3. Create/use authentic, meaningful, and relevant content.

Even more so than the f2f classroom, online and hybrid courses need to justify the real world application of skills and activities to motivate and engage students. Designing activities so the connection to the real world is integral to the activity (like simulations) is even better.

4. Discuss, with guidance.

Students need open-ended, thought-provoking, relevant prompts to get discussions going. We can do more than post “Discuss Chapter Two”. Gently elicit more from students who simply post “I agree” by replying “Tell me what you specifically agree with and why?” or a similar response.

5. Measure and assess with alignment.

Are your objectives measurable? (Can you visualize someone performing the task stated in the objective – if not, it is due for an upgrade). Does your assessment measure what your task is asking students to do? Alignment between the objective and its assessment is critical to student success. And speaking of assessment – let’s get creative. The real world doesn’t check knowledge in ten question quizzes – it does so through the application of learned concepts. Student engagement goes through the roof when assessments become authentic.

6. Use more than text.

Students score significantly higher with audio and/or visual cues embedded within the content, audio feedback on work turned in, visual feedback (i.e. screenshots) on submitted work or for further explanation, than text alone. Providing formative feedback in an audio format prior to a summatively graded activity is a highly effective method of improving student performance.

7. Know your audience.

Today’s students are mobile (as in phone). And as such, they are less apt to use email as their first or even second line of communication. They text, they chat, they Facebook. They are social. Give them an opportunity to form a community in your course like they would f2f in a class. Provide a “lounge” forum for non-course-related discussion. Incorporate other social media that is course-related like Diigo to have students collaboratively research and share notes across the web. Research consistently shows student perceive courses as more meaningful when authentic, problem-based, collaborative activities involving learner-learner interaction are the norm.

8. Be accessible

Design courses for accessibility from the beginning. It is easy to do it then. It is much more difficult to retrofit a course on the fly. Assistive technologies alone cannot remove all the barriers in a badly designed course site.

9. Provide opportunities for your students and yourself to reflect.

Reflection gives students the opportunity to explore course ideas deeply, make cross-curricular and real life connections, as well as express fears and concerns. It is one way asynchronous courses are able to connect learner to content and learner to instructor effectively. In addition, being a reflective practitioner gives you an opportunity to explore what is and is not working about the course, to generate new ideas while topics are fresh in your mind, and to note areas in which you need to do more research.

10. Eliminate tedium (yawn).

Being an online student is challenging enough. The least we can do is try to make the process more interesting than reading the IRS Tax Code.

*Inspired by The 10 Commandments of eLearning


Posted by on October 28, 2010 in miscellaneous, Teaching Online


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My First “Official” Open Ed Resource

I am in the middle of teaching three online courses, taking George Siemen’s Introduction:Emerging Technologies -Africa open course for my Open PhD studies, making tons of Twitter connections with fellow like-mined educators, and staying in a 5th wheel trailer for two weeks on my sister’s property in Eastern Washington state while I visit my relatives on this side of the country.  What’s a girl to do in her spare time?

Write up a post about a teaching resource for using digital media and social networking to promote critical thinking in the on or off line classroom, of course.

I’ve had the article rolling around in my head for a while now.  I posted it to my other blog site that I use for sharing resources and reflections with other online educators.  You can find that post here.  Nothing really new in my doing that.

The “aha!” moment came when I realized what was significant about this practice.  I’ve been  intentionally creating and posting educational resources to be shared…openly…freely…use them at your own discretion.


I’ve been a part of this movement for sometime now, and I didn’t even know it?


With this particular post, however, I officially slapped a Creative Commons attribution, non-commercial, share alike license on the post just to make sure my readers knew they could play with my toys in their own sandbox.

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Posted by on October 17, 2009 in The Plan


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Dr. Kay’s Thoughts on Open Education

Dr. Kay will be blogging on OpenPhD throughout this experiment in the role as one of my “PhD” advisors.  Look for her posts with Dr. Kay in the title and under the category of Advising.

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Posted by on October 5, 2009 in Advising


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