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Teaching Effectively Online

  Lesson Three: Key Design Considerations for Online Courses

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Required Submissions for Lesson Three:


1.  Read the lesson below, View the videos marked View
many are marked as Optional. (Two hours)

2.  You have been invited via email to join our class wiki –
     Go to http://teachingonlinewiki.pbworks.com and follow the instructions   
     for putting your name on the wiki Frontpage, and creating a new page
     resources collection on a topic or topics you are MOST interested in.
     Explore: Designing Online Instruction: Evaluation and Assessment

     http://web2fork12classrooms.pbworks.com (One Hour) 

3.  Explore:  Open Courseware Initiative and Open Source Resources

     (One hour)

             4.  Email your instructor with your candid feedback on this lesson's
                  explorations and the degree to which you are 1. Excited, and 2. Overwhelmed.


A Sea Change in Education Worldwide

Ten years ago, there was much debate on whether online learning was in any way comparable to traditional classroom learning. Today, the USDOE and National School Board Association have recognized that in many cases online learning can produce superior results over traditional classroom learning. Teaching essential 21st Century Workforce readiness skills is now recognized as inclusive of teaching proper uses of social media related to maturely managing a digital reputation, digital citizenship, civic engagement, developing effective online collaboration skills, and being able to produce new media products to share knowledge and educate others. 

The commercial Elearning businesses are out-innovating traditional K12 schools and universities. Educators with online teaching skills are being hired by commercial companies in great numbers, further weakening the ability of schools to retain innovate educators. Students are opting for the flexibility of Virtual High Schools and homeschooling – creating additional budget shortfalls for school districts.

Much of the past decade of K12 online learning has been basically putting classroom course content online in a standard fashion. There are hundreds of tutorials on how to do this basic conversion.  The future however, will be highly competitive, and will require constant monitoring of the innovations of others, and constant innovation in order to be competitive motivating teachers and learners, alike. You are advised to watch for the best innovations of others, to emulate the best-of-the-best in your own online course design. 

Course Management Systems (CMS’s) have evolved to integrate course management and delivery features. Currently Blackboard is the leader, having bought WebCT and Elluminate. The open source CMS, Moodle has proved to be very popular, and Blackboard has released its own free CMS.

View Content Management Systems - Comparisons Website

http://edutools.info  Top CMSs compared by features.

Blackboard Offers Free Online Course Authoring Tools
the video at http://www.coursesites.com  

Explore: Create Your Own Free Video Course
http://www.udemy.com Optional.
A free service to create video courses to offer free or for a fee. Tutorials are available for those who register.

Moodle.org Optional.
One of the most popular free online course open source systems, but it requires someone to manage a local server. Tutorials and Moodle resources are listed within our class wiki at http://web2fork12classrooms.pbworks.com

Edu20 free online course Learning Management System

www.edu20.org  Take the Tour  Optional.



Online Course Models to Review:


VIEW: Conspiracy Code   

An animated edutainment approach to teaching American History.

VIEW: Module Two in the Pre-challenge training, showing Twitter, as an example of their modular approach using video captures to teach social media entrepreneurship. You can learn more about their program viewing the module one short video, too. You can “mouse over” the module buttons to see the topics –their emphasis is on presenting sophisticated integrated social media applications for making money by producing valuable new media content, smarter education. http://challenge.co/training  ItunesU is used to delivered advanced fee-based instructional content. (5 minutes)

Educators as Info-Brokers of the Best-of-the-Best Global Rich Media Resources

Educators are no longer the “Sage on the Stage” but must serve as the “Guide on the Side.” Mastery learning and facilitating peer mentoring are made possible by a combination of new online tools, quality resources created by others, and pedagogies (ala Khanacademy.com) Consider yourself as an info-broker challenged to identify and deliver the very best existing rich media instruction, from diverse global sources, to your students, with emphasis on teaching them to find their own such learning resources, as self-directed learners, while building effective collaboration skills with others. 

Many states have invested in creating their own in-state virtual K12 schools. While intended to be state-specific and matching state standards, most such efforts lack sustainable funding, and ignore the exceptionally high quality of available resources outside the state.

Online learning has become a lucrative commercial business and the pace of innovation is accelerating. Edutainment, rich media, serious gaming, mobile learning, and other trends are pushing traditional educational institutions to adapt or die. 

Bill Gates, in his book “The Road Ahead” cites three major growth industries to pay close attention to: Entertainment, Social Services, and Education. In short, “Fun, Social, Learning is where the money will be made. Add to this the recent boom in Social Media, mobile devices, and the stage is set for educational transformation even in the next few years.  Mobile devices have created a new market for mobile learning, where less is more. Shortening attention spans have created a competition for who can deliver the BEST online instruction designed for the MOST learners, requiring the LEAST time, effort, cost, and prerequisite literacy. (Think BESTMOSTLEAST)

In addition, cloud-based services can minimize the learning curve for people to adapt to new tools and CMS environments. And note that CMS environments and cloud-based services are merging, as are Elearning businesses, and Elearning educational institutions; at a time where suddenly we find we need to be teaching innovative entrepreneurship to “Grow an entrepreneurial culture starting in primary grades so youth will grow up with entrepreneurship as a lifelong option.” 

Everyone both learner and teacher, both consumer and producer.

How best to do this in Alaskan Native Villages who have received new faster broadband is a big issue as the federal government is reevaluating the return on investment of its Universal Service Fund 90% subsidies for village broadband. The question being whether broadband-enabled jobs can be created to grow a sustainable economy in 250+ Alaskan Native villages.

VIEW: RSA Animate - Changing Education Paradigms - YouTube

An interesting artistic model for communicating concepts, with the topic being the need for K12 educational reform. (11 minutes – 5 million views!)

Easy Rich Media Creation Tools for Educators and Students 

VIEW: A Grammarly Discussion in the wilds of Africa by bwardpsg
Created using goanimate.com

VIEW: A Few Minutes In The Life Of A Sign Language Interpreter,

From xtranormal.com – a text-to-movie authoring site.
Like goanimate, one enters text dialog to be performed via text-to-speech by animated characters.


VIEW: Check out fellow classmate Tim Coray's very cool video capture tutorial created for Lesson one using www.jingproject.com:  

Getting by with crummy internet


Timothy Coray   Tricks on How to view online videos via a crummy internet connection


VIEW: Using Elluminate (now called Blackboard Collaborate)

http://www.screencast.com/t/ZAnRvO8qR Created by classmate Adell Bruns.


VIEW: Battle of the Books Trailer created at animoto.com:

You can embed the code to run your animoto videos on Facebook or through

your school webpage or blog. Educators can apply for a free 6 month account here: http://animoto.com/education

Explore: Optional. Hundreds of new Web 2.0 tools and media types:
www.go2web20.net  Sorted by media type, with top ten listed in upper right.


Next Generation Web Optional.


A connected community of innovative broadband users.

Six TED Videos – A Quick Review 

For Lesson One you viewed TED videos listed at

And this first video listed in Lesson One. 

The “How Web Video Empowers Global Innovation” video is perhaps the most dramatic video presented in this course, regarding implications for global competition regarding the best, short, educational units on literally all topics, with new, better educational units growing in number as more and more people are spurred to higher levels of innovation by what they see others doing with Internet videos.  Weaving the best-of-the-best into your curriculums is proving to be a competitive necessity.

The virtual choir video is a look at what’s possible well beyond Facebook – bringing together the faces and voices of thousands worldwide.

Here’s a similar site (Optional)

VIEW: Six Billion Others –Short Video Overview http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMv3oYHTLMA  (6 minutes)

The Six Billon Others Web Site http://www.6milliardsdautres.org/ Optional

The Khan Academy video presented an effective STEM mastery learning model supported by 2200 quality videos, and goes well beyond STEM. Bill Gates and Google have funded the project touting the model as the future of education. 

The Hole in the Wall video demonstrated an effective student self-directed online learning model from India, where there are not enough teachers. Reference is made to the Granny Cloud – citing the motivational aspect of elders’ attention – independent of any direct context expertise.

Melinda Gates’ video talks about Aspirational Marketing, and while Coca-Cola was used as an example, potential citizen engagement in all types of social education initiatives was the point. 

The collaborative consumption video presented a $100 billion/year sharing economy, citing many specific examples of how new online services that save people money -by facilitating smarter sharing -are growing in number, and these service businesses are making money, too. The book represents a review of the literature on new innovative ways to use online services smarter in a time of budget crisis. Keeping up on such things will prove essential in our age of accelerating change – as a survival skill to impart to our students.

Decisions for Designing an Online Course:

When an educator selects an online course authoring system, the educator may become inherently limited by the features that system does and doesn't have. For instance, some systems allow a whiteboard, where students and teachers can exchange drawings, or write mathematical formulas, with an electronic pen; others don't. It is a good idea to thoroughly compare available tools before deciding on a course authoring system.


Standards for online courses are continually changing as tools improve and educators gain experience with alternatives.  Just as the first web pages you saw were at first amazing, and later seemed substandard, so too are online courses creating higher standards as we all become more experienced.


Expectations increase with experience; our expectations shift as we become aware of better and better applications. Currently, any online course is generally considered to be 'sophisticated,' just by being "online." But, as teachers and students become acquainted with better models for student engagement, interaction, and motivation, the standards for what constitutes a really good online course will change significantly. The design for interpersonal attention, and engaging interaction, will dominate this assessment dynamic.


As teachers, we need to maintain a healthy skepticism. Just because a course's web pages are pretty to look at or incorporate the latest neat multimedia features, it does not necessarily mean they incorporate the best educational methods and pedagogies. Nor does it mean they produce measureable learning outcomes, engaging interaction, or that they motivate students.


On the other hand, just because a course is self-directed, may not mean students are not learning from the well-written thoughts and perspectives from the heart and mind of a great teacher. A course touting use of collaborative tools, may, in fact, misuse them!


The course goals, thoughtful design, incorporation of the best resources, and selection of appropriate presentation technologies, to present the curriculum in the very best ways possible, are all factors to consider. Your common sense as a good educator, coupled with thorough review of online instructional options, will be all you need to become an excellent online educator! Don't be in too much of a hurry; take the time to carefully assess your online teaching alternatives.


The "shelf-life" of an online course can be as little as six months, as URLS change regularly. Planning for an online course is often far more demanding than preparing for a traditional classroom presentation or activity.


Students sitting at computers using collaborative tools, might look socially isolated to the untrained eye, but they might well be more collaboratively engaged, with more peers per unit time, than if they were in a traditional classroom. This is particularly true with larger class sizes, where the classroom is more a lecture setting than an interactive environment.


Since many teachers have yet to take their first online class, and many students have far more experience using the Internet and collaborating online, it can be difficult for teachers to understand the readiness of students to use the Internet as a collaborative medium.


An online course, such as this one, may avoid use of unnecessary graphics to allow efficient use by those with slow Internet access. Or, a course, as the Shakespeare course you've reviewed, it may use sophisticated graphics and web-design techniques. The time you'll have available will determine how you approach creating an online course. The time required for authoring an online course can vary widely with the functionality of producing measureable outcomes being the true test of quality. As this current course demonstrates, incorporating existing resources can dramatically reduce the time required to create an online course, while keeping the quality at a high level.


The issue becomes; "What web tools do you need to teach the content in the style you'd prefer?"


The following checklist will give you a starting place for assessing, and designing online course format options, independent of your assessment of the quality of their application. 


Course Assessment Checklist




















-------------(End of Checklist)


Checklist Explanations:


Bandwidth, Software, and Technology requirements:
A low budget, low-tech class might involve simple web pages only, allowing use by those with slow modems and older computers. A high budget, high tech class might involve advanced multimedia and interactive television. Will students be required to have the latest version of web browsers with audio and video capabilities? The lowest common denominator for technology requirements must be made very clear for a given online experience.


Self-Directed VS Instructor-Centric:
A class can be self-directed, or instructor-interaction intensive, with a whole range of options in-between, such as small group interaction with a high level of one-to-one student interaction, or a large group interaction with a low level of one-to-one student interaction. A self-directed course can potentially work with any number of students, whereas an instructor-centric course has limitations due to the amount of interaction the instructor can adequately handle.


Issues for a Self-Directed Course
A self-directed course represents one extreme, that can still be highly interactive using high quality CDROM's, software tutorials, and interactive web sites, which are rapidly becoming more sophisticated. Lessons can be completed at the learner's discretion and potentially in any order.


Issues for an Instructor-Centric interactive course:

Similar to a traditional classroom, the instructor would lead all discussions and activities and the participants would need to keep up or wait for the rest of the group, lesson by lesson.


To emulate a traditional classroom experience a teacher can decide to lead discussions by posting messages to a web conference or listserv. When every student contributes, the number of messages will depend on class size. As a teacher, we'll need to know when we'll reach an unmanagable number of messages.


How will you assess student performance, knowing some students will post messages as required, but are not genuinely interested or engaged, while others are highly engaged, prolific writers, and may find themselves resented by the less motivated students? The online medium tends to amplify certain student differences, particularly their writing ability and willingness to interact openly and honestly.


If you assign 5 small group discussions, with students as discussion moderators, for five discussions of five students each, and each student posts 3 message a day, for three class days per week, how many messages must each student read per week (5x3x3=45 msgs) and how many messages will you scan per week as a teacher? (45x5=225.)


This doesn't take into account highly motivated or articulate students...who can be expected to author longer messages as they gain confidence. An unobrusive measure would be to measure the number of pages of writing produced by each student and/or discussion group. A subjective accounting of the value and content of the interaction would be another measure.


Lesson Structure: Fixed VS Flexible

Lessons could be required to be completed by specified dates and in a specific order, or the student could be given the option to decide which lessons to complete by which dates, within general guidelines.


Content Type: Skills VS Conceptual Learning

A course may be focused on teaching skills such as desktop-publishing in a step-by-step format measured by multiple choice questions. Or, as in a philosophy course, more conceptual instruction may focus on discussion, sharing thoughts in writing about required reading assignments, or discussing ideas raised by other participants. Assessment could be subjective analysis of participants' writings.

Depending on your teaching goals, interaction with various media (using high quality CDROM's, software tutorials, and interactive web sites,) may be the best approach, or perhaps interaction with people would be more appropriate. These are two extremes, with many levels using both features in-between.



Interaction Design with Human Interaction

If the goal of an English class is to engage students in reading and writing discussion, after having read a book by a specific author, online interaction might well be superior to a classroom setting by allowing for more overall interaction per unit time, and vigorous exercise of reading and writing skills, in a shareable, documented format after the interaction has taken place.

If the goal of a philosophy class is to make students think and articulate their thoughts, would an online discussion or face-to-face discussion be best? What would Socrates choose, if he had these choices? Or, when exactly would one be better than the other? Socrates might say "The ideal would be a combination of the best features of both these verbal and written forms of interaction."


Interaction Design with Media

If the goal of a biology class is to teach the human anatomy, a high quality, well-organized interactive CDROM might provide the student with more interactive individualized learning per unit time than a classroom setting. The teachers' role might shift from presenting the content, to selecting the most efficient content presentation, and focusing on articulations and higher contextual discussion to increase the meaning of the content. Freeing the teacher to provide more focused individual attention for those who need it is another option.


We've all had some teachers who did little more than present information, often reading from their notes. If their notes were made available online, supplemented with multimedia interactive resources and examples, the online version would be individualized, more interactive, perhaps more efficient, and possibly more entertaining and motivating for students.  The time saved by the teacher could be applied toward individual assistance to those students needing special help.


A course may offer a choice of learning styles, or may offer only one choice, depending on the multimedia tools and the availability of the time to create alternative presentations. While offering this type of choice is an advantage of multimedia systems, the time available for teachers to create such alternative presentations is often lacking. Such systems can typically be created for only large scale applications, which brings us to one advantage of corporations creating high quality learning materials.


Timeframe for intended learning community: Community networking and online learning are blurring around the theme of  "building learning communities." An online course could define a finite timeframe for interaction, whereas an online community of interest may set no such time limitations.

As teachers of an online class, we don't necessary have to say good bye to our students when a course ends, but can continue the relationship through the convenience of email and other collaborative tools. Many opportunities exist for creating ongoing online learning communities to sustain interest and learning with students.


The Open Courseware Initiative is one example of a global

  movement to make as many quality online learning resources free to all.


Rich Media Content Sites for Educators – A Short Sampling
All are Optional.

Free Online Course Materials | MIT OpenCourseWare


Open Courseware Consortium

Open Educational Resources Commons
 Open Educational Resources

http://eduforge.org  Open Source Learning Lab

www.sourceforge.org  Open source software consortium.
*Moodle being one of the best examples.


www.learner.org   See student interactives www.learner.org/interactives
A major educational portal – searchable by grade level and topic, with a link to interactive units.

The Portal to the World of Knowledge
Links to many sources of online learning and teaching. 

MERLOT http://www.merlot.org  Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching Extensive collected multimedia resources by topic.


IMS http://www.imsproject.org   Instructional Management Systems standards - an industry site focused on promoting standards among all Instructional Management Systems so content can be easily shifted between systems.


An Introduction: What are Learning Objects?
A rich array of resources from the Univ. of Wisconsin's Center for International Education. See also their "Collections of Learning Objects"


The following Hewlett Foundation report addresses this potential in depth:
A Review of the Open Educational Resources Movement (OER) Achievements, Challenges, and New Opportunities
 http://www.oerderves.org/wp-content/uploads/2007/03/a-review-of-the-open-educational-resources-oer-movement_final.pdf  (Start at page 33.)

YouTube.com/Teachers - Learn, Teach, Share through YouTube

Curious about how to effectively incorporate YouTube into your classroom? Looking for ways to engage the visual learners in your group? Want to access a vast array of free educational content to support your lectures? Hoping to extend the power of your teaching to a global audience through video? Look no further than YouTube.com/teachers, a resource for educators of all levels that will empower you to learn, teach and share through YouTube.

Google for Educators  http://www.google.com/educators

   Slideshare.com  http://slideshare.com  Powerpoints searchable by topic

Thinkfinity http://thinkfinity.org

Teachers Domain http://teachersdomain.org


Free Instructional Videos – How India is leveraging global video content

Social Media sharing site (to mash up is to utilize the work of others in creating curriculum.


Required Submissions Checklist:

        ____ Posted your name on our wiki front page with three preferred resource topics listed after your name.
                Our class wiki is at http://teachingonlinewiki.pbworks.com

        ____ Created your own wiki page with topical preferences posted.

        ____ Send instructor a private email with candid feedback on this lesson.

Lesson Feedback:


You're invited to privately email your instructor: 

       1. What areas, if any, did you have trouble with during this

       2. What questions remain now that you've finished this lesson?

       3. Approximately how much time did you devote to this lesson?

       4. What improvements would you like to suggest?