If you are going to design a course for Online LIVE classes, how will it look?
Will it be similar to or different from a traditional on-campus face to face course?
What will it have in common with or how will it differ from traditional distance learning courses?
As you search for answers to these questions and get ready to plan and deliver your courses online live, here is a simple 10 step process to ensure that quality and design are integral to your new online teaching and for the learning environment you are building.
1. KNOWING Your Students
How well do you know your students?
And are you aware of what your students know already?
Your students can only build on what they know already. If they know the basics already, not only can they learn more easily but they can do it quickly.
So with a better understanding of your students’ learning background, you can design a more effective course plan.
2. IDENTIFYING the goals and objectives of the course
After attending your course:
- What will students learn that they did now know already?
- What will they be able to do that they could not do earlier?
- What will they think about the course?
- What possibilities does the course open?
3. VISUALIZING the Student Perspective
Can you imagine attending your own online class as a student? Specifically, how will your students access the online course:
- Mobile or Laptop: How will your student access your course and join the class live?
- Will they join from home, a cafe, or on the road?
- Will they have a decent internet connection? Do they need to download additional software?
While attending the course:
- How will they access course material, assignments, quizzes and other relevant material?
- Do they need to work with their peers during the course? How will that happen?
- Do they have appropriate channels to reach-out to you and connect with peers – emails, chat, discussion forums etc?
4. CREATING assessment and evaluation tools
How will your students know that they are learning?
How will you assess and evaluate their learning?
Will there be assignments?
How will students learn about and submit assignments? How will you access their submitted work?
Will there be any quizzes? Will they be self-checked?
Will grades for assignments and quizzes be a part of the final grade?
Will attendance to a LIVE online class count towards the final grade?
Class++ Tip: You can create quizzes using various question models. You can also send assignments with a submission deadline. Your students can access quizzes and assignments from their respective Class++ accounts.
5. DESIGNING Learning Activities
Design activities which balance interaction between the three: faculty to students, students to students, and students to resources such as learning videos and additional readings.
While considering resources, you may want to include various channels from reference papers, websites, books, e-books, documents, videos, podcasts etc.
Plan for activities that:
- introduce, apply, reinforce and extend concepts, and
- are managed and led by students.
6. COMMUNICATING Effectively
You have to actively work towards making your communication effective.
Group Chat or Mailing List
Use group chat or mailing-list as the most basic form of communicating with your group.
Most social networks have some form of group chats available. You may use, for example, Group Chat on WhatsApp or Instagram. Check with students what are the popular or preferred social apps that they are using and decide accordingly.
Check with your organization for creating a mailing list. You can also check Google group, which might serve your purpose.
It may not be possible to answer all the questions asked in the chat group of the mailing list. One creative way is to assign students on a weekly basis to answer common questions and to direct questions to you only as and when needed.
Organize an online seminar for your students for extended discussions on a specific topic. For example,
In an American History course, there could be an online seminar on the beginning of the Vietnam war, or
In a Computer Science course, there could be an online seminar on breakthroughs in Artificial Intelligence.
During such online seminars, you can delegate diverse roles to students to serve as speaker/moderator, encouraging everyone to participate. You can focus on monitoring discussions and soliciting summary statements.
Class++ Tip: To conduct Online Seminar on Class++, create a new class with appropriate title (Example – Online seminar on the beginning of Vietnam war) in the corresponding course (Example – American History). All the students who are enrolled in American History course, can access and join the seminar from their respective account.
You can plan for group work by creating a small group of students and assigning them a group assignment.
Class++ Tip: During a live online class on Class++ platform, you can create multiple break-out rooms and assign students into those groups. Students in such a group can use all the features of Class++ – video conference, presentation, chat and poll – to collaborate and work on the team project.
7. SELECTING Appropriate Media
Selecting the correct media to complement or enhance your online live classes, is crucial to the success of your course.
Given the fluid and fast-paced nature of tech-driven media, it is important to understand and select what is in sync with your needs.
Should you live-stream on Twitter? Or Twitch?
Or, send short-lived messages on Snapchat?
What about Podcasts? Facebook updates? Infographics?
The key: “Simplicity” and “Time”
If you are like most faculty members, time is limited!
Whatever media you choose, you need to create content for that media on a regular basis. For each course and each class.
So how much time are you willing to commit to create content for the media that you have decided to use?
Moreover, you will have to nurture and update your content that requires both time and money.
Can students easily access the media throughout their course?
Would you want your content to be available on a public media platform?
8. MANAGING Time Efficiently
As the number of teaching hours increases for a course, the time and resources needed to deliver it online also increases, which in turn, impacts your budget.
To deliver your online classes effectively, you should plan to spend a certain number of hours to prepare for every hour of teaching and learning that is shifted from the classroom environment to an online environment.
Expect anywhere between 5 to 15 hours to prepare for 1 hour of online teaching.
9. DELIVERING Quality
It is more expensive to design, develop and deliver a lab course than to run a traditional seminar or lecture based course.
If the skill or knowledge to be taught needs sophisticated lab work or simulations, then more resources have to be allocated to create an appropriate learning environment.
Hence, it is important to answer the following:
- What kind of learning needs to be developed?
- What instructional strategies will be used to enable the learning?
- What are the unique educational characteristics of the technology?
10. BUDGETING Infrastructure and Financial Needs
Here are some important questions:
- When is the program needed?
- What human and infrastructure resources can be allocated to this project?
- What financial resources can be allocated to this project?
If you have to start delivering your course online within a month, it is likely you may not have sufficient time to develop quality content.
At the same time, delivering online live courses is an iterative process. You get better as do more.
It is best to start with whatever you already have available. Make engaging students during the online live class your first priority. Quality content and everything else needed will follow in due course.
While there will always be unanswered questions about “seat-time” or “face-time” expected of students as per state requirements and curriculum policies, we hope you now have a simple 10 step guideline to design and deliver online live classes.
It is important to match your instructional goals and objectives with the best media that can be used keeping in mind time, budget and infrastructure constraints.
You now have an opportunity to design a new teaching and learning environment that maximizes student learning and the joy of learning, while ensuring that you quickly adapt to the changing teaching and learning environment.
PS: This article builds on the instructional design concepts proposed by pioneers such as Judith Boetcher and Rita-Marie Conrad.