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Creating your Course Activities

Matching Learning Objectives to Activities and Assessments
  • The Course Design Matrix will help you match the learning objectives and outcomes with appropriate activities and assessments.
  • To access all of the Course Development Templates, go to http://www.clt.odu.edu/resources/, and log-in.
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Seven Principles of Effective Online Teaching

Principle 1: Student-Faculty Contact
Provide clear guidelines and policies regarding communication.

  • Policies should be put in place describing types of communication and when they should be used. For example, you may have students send technical support questions to “tech support”, and explain what the public discussion forums should and should not be used for. Additionally, standards should be set for the amount of time necessary for the instructor to respond to e-mails. For example, many instructors make it a policy to respond to e-mails within 2 days of receiving them.

Principle 2: Cooperation Among Students
Discussion boards and group assignments should be designed to facilitate cooperative “meaning-making” among students.

  • Some instructors just require participation in weekly discussion forums, without requiring content that can spark active learning, personal meaning-making, and debate.
    Here are some suggestions for creating an environment for meaningful discussion:
    • Learners should be required to participate (and their grade should depend on participation) and clear expectations for discussions should be posted.
    • Discussion groups should remain small.
    • Discussions should be focused on a task.
    • Tasks should always result in a product and should engage learners in the content
    • Learners should receive feedback on their discussions.
    • Evaluation should be based on the quality of postings (and not the length or number).

Principle 3: Active Learning
Presentation of course projects should be an important part of the online course.

  • Because student presentations often provide motivation for higher-level work as well as peer discussion, opportunities should be made available for student projects to be shared and discussed online.

Principle 4: Prompt Feedback
Instructors need to provide two types of feedback: information feedback and acknowledgment feedback.

  • Information feedback – providing an answer to a question, comments, or a grade for an assignment or test.
    When the instructor gets too busy for personal communication, some comments can be sent to the entire class. Obviously grades need to be communicated to each student personally.
  • Acknowledgement feedback – confirming that an assignment or question has been received and that a response will be made soon. Students often worry that you have not received their assignment. A quick acknowledgement when the assignment is received will prevent time-consuming e-mails later.

Principle 5: Deadlines
Online courses need deadlines.

  • Regular deadlines help busy students avoid procrastination and encourage regular communication with the instructor and other students.

Principle 6: High Expectations
Challenging tasks, sample cases, and praise for quality work communicate high expectations.

  • Instructors should communicate high expectations through challenging assignments or discussions and examples of good work. Additionally, praise of exemplary student work encourages other students to work on that same level.

Principle 7: Diverse Talents and Ways of Learning
Allowing students to choose project topics incorporates diverse views into online courses.

  • Instructors can provide guidelines for a project but allow students to choose a topic that interests them. This practice gives students a sense of control in their education and encourages more diverse points of view.
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