What is Online Course Development?

Online Course DevelopmentAs distance learning becomes more common at all levels, from high school through professional education, online course development has become a major area of focus for today’s educators. This growing area of concern focuses on how to best translate the traditional classroom experience into an online environment, where students still need to study, interact, and take exams. Course development procedures look at various technological tools to make this happen, and they consider how to change course structure, timing, assessment, and more. There are several key ways that this process occurs, according to Texas State University.

First, Technological Tools Must Be Chosen

The good news for today’s teachers and professors is that online learning software has become quite advanced. Furthermore, several major companies are producing distance learning tools that combine web-based features, local software, mobile devices, and collaboration solutions. When developing an online course, the first step that must be taken involves choosing the proper software. Blackboard is perhaps the most popular tool for this purpose, but companies like Moodle, eSchool, and several others also compete for market share.

Adjust Course Timing to Coincide with Online Norms

Most online courses take place in an accelerated format that significantly reduces their duration. While the typical offline semester lasts an average of 15 weeks, most online courses last only between 7 and 10 weeks. This means the course must be compressed into far less time. Teachers will have to schedule more reading each week, and most will want to have at least one graded assignment during each week of a shortened term. The best course development process will seek to strike a balance between a shorter format and a reasonable, though somewhat heavier, workload. Thanks to online assessments and file submission tools, the added commitment to work can often be made more manageable for both students and their instructors.

Engage in Ongoing Assessment and Solicitation of Feedback

Development of online courses is never finished. Just like offline classes, instructors need to keep in mind that some lessons will succeed while others fail. Some tests will be easy for students, while others may show a pattern of consistent failure on certain topics. By analyzing grades and trends within the course, which most online learning portals will make easy through built-in analytics, instructors can determine the strengths and weaknesses of their initial online learning effort. If students are struggling with a particular concept, or if they are having trouble managing the large number of assignments due each week, revisions can be made each term so that the course becomes more effective and more manageable for all involved.

Another key way to keep an online course manageable, rigorous and engaging is to simply survey students at the end of the term. Most colleges and universities already allow for student-led evaluations at the end of an offline course. By extending this courtesy to online learning at all levels, instructors can learn more about their approach to online learning, their availability during the term, and both the effectiveness and the reasonableness of the assignments that they’ve required throughout the course’s duration.

Related Resource: Curriculum Development Jobs

A Growing Area of Interest for Today’s Instructors

Whether it’s an online grade school classroom or a course developed for college students, distance education takes time and careful effort to get right. Instructors who are interested online course development should understand that this increasingly popular area of concern takes a lot of initial work, careful and ongoing observation, and proactive revision of materials in order to be highly effective for all students.