Online Learning: Where to Begin?

Why is Online Learning Important?

Learning Outcomes Drive Good Learning Anywhere

Designing learning experiences which take place online should start in much the same way as designing for face-to-face learning experiences.  First consider what you want your students to learn in your course - your course learning outcomes.

Consider these questions: 

  • What you want students to get out of the course? (learning outcomes)
  • What is important for them to learn and retain, 2-3 years after the course is over? (core concepts/deep learning)
  • How will you know students have obtained the learning? (assessment and evaluation methods)
  • What kind of thinking or application abilities do you want them to develop? (applying learning)
  • How do you want them to keep on learning after the course is over? (lifelong learning)

Once you have defined your learning outcomes, consider what evidence you need to know if students have been successful. Determine your evaluation methods and informal assessment activities.

There are many ways of engaging students in an online course. You could create a module of resources, readings and web links for learners to read prior to class - an excellent way of using technology to help students prepare for in class learning. You could create an audio podcast or video screencast explaining a concept or idea - a super idea to use technology to have you share learning with students they can view or listen to multiple times.Other ideas include: Setting up an Online Room for synchronous discussion with your learners  or creating a discussion area so leaners can communicate with one another.

Questions to Ask: Is Online Learning The Right Choice?

Often people jump into online learning without considering a few key questions first. The answers to these questions will help you decide if online is the best medium for learning. Sometimes it might be; sometimes not.

  1. What are the learning outcomes of the course or experience?
  2. Will learners be able to demonstrate their knowledge and skills adequately in a technology environment?
  3. Does the department/Faculty have the supports to ensure the course is successful in an online format?
  4. Do you, the faculty member, have good course design experience?
  5. Do you, the faculty member, feel your technology competencies are suitable for designing and teaching online?

How to Design Your Online Course