Future of Education

Best Practices for Online Course Design

When it comes to designing an online course, educators and training professionals have a lot to consider: What content should I include? How do I convey the information? Which layout should I use?

One thing’s for sure — you need to employ an online course design that best serves the needs of your learners.

What does that mean? What does it entail? What do you need in order to achieve that?

This article shares all the best practices for online course design, so if you need help, just read on.

Best Practices for Online Course Design

Before we begin, here’s a quick recap: Online course design refers to the design and development of your online course. This can include:

  • Purposeful planning
  • Organisation, sequence, and pace of content
  • Understanding the learning experience Identifying the learning outcomes
  • Providing multiple ways to achieve learning outcomes
  • Teaching and learning method

(Source here)

Here are the best practices for online course design:

1. Use backward design
This tip may not sound appealing. After all, who wants to do something that’s backwards. 

Well, backward design actually refers to a three-step course designing process. The steps are:

  1. Learning outcomes: What do you want learners to take away from this course
  2. Measuring learning outcomes: What do learners need to do in order to meet learning outcomes?
  3. Learners' progress: How and when will you track course activities to gather progress and feedback to help learners?

How to enforce backward design:

  1. Educators and instructors must clearly identify their desired learning outcomes. This will direct the content, teaching, and assessment of learners.
  2. Good learning outcomes are skill-focused, not content-specific.
  3. Educators and instructors should regularly review and revise learning outcomes according to learners’ level of knowledge and relevance to learners.

2. Plan assessments

After the learning outcomes are defined, educators and instructors have to think about how they intend to assess learners accordingly.

Assessments should be able to measure whether learners have met the learning outcomes. Common assessments include quizzes, tests, projects, reflections, and discussions.

As all learners learn and demonstrate their knowledge differently, incorporating different assessments gives learners more opportunities to demonstrate their understanding of course material.

3. Plan learning activities

Next, educators and instructors need to create activities to support learners to succeed in the assessments.

If your assessment is a written paper, there should be multiple writing activities to aid learners. Similarly, face-to-face assessments require in-person activities, while presentations require spoken activities.

Whatever the case, you should plan activities that give students the necessary knowledge and skills for the assessments.

4. Consider student workload

You may want to provide an abundance of information and activities to impart as much knowledge to your learners, but they may not have sufficient time or energy to complete them.

Before assigning work, it is helpful if educators and instructors clearly communicate their workload expectations early and ensure that the workload is appropriate.

Besides the actual assignment, using existing software tools that learners are familiar with will make it easier and smoother for students. If you need to use a new software tool, inform the class ahead of time so they have ample time to download, explore, and learn the new system.

The takeaway

With these key pointers in mind, you will be able to create an effective online course design that your learners love.

If you need an affordable, easy-to-use learning management system for your school and an engaging chat interface for students to do independent learning, contact us.

Featured Photo by Headway on Unsplash

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