No matter which LMS you choose, what goes into your course must be well thought out if you are to take advantage of all the affordances the technology has to offer. There is no one way to design an online course, however, there are basic design guidelines that one can follow to make an effective online course. Las Positas College has identified key elements in online course designing. Their guide, Best Practices in Designing Online Courses promotes creating courses with sound design.
Best Practices in Designing Online Courses
- Detail the general course content and student responsibilities, among other items, in your syllabus.
- Greet your students with a welcome message, and tell them how to get started in the course.
- Introduce yourself to the class, and have students introduce themselves to you and to one another in order to begin building a “community of learners”.
- Acquaint students with the course software.
- Ensure that students understand what is required for them to succeed in an online course.
II. Course Organization and Design
- Structure your course in a well-organized manner, and make it easy to navigate.
- Ensure that your links are active and up-to-date.
- Create web pages that are consistent and reasonably attractive.(N/A)
- Design your course so that all aspects of it are accessible to students with disabilities.
- Include one discussion board forum where students can ask and answer class-related questions and one where they can ask and answer non-class-related questions. Also, post frequently-asked questions in your course.
- Design your course so that pages can be downloaded within a reasonable period of time even without a high-speed Internet connection.
III. Instructional Design
- Introduce learning units with an overview of the topic.
- Connect what the students already know about the topic to what they are going to learn.
- Write and post objectives for each learning unit.
- Align your learning activities to your objectives and outcomes.
- Align your assessments to your objectives and outcomes.
- Structure your learning activities to foster student-instructor, student-student, and student-content interactions.
- Clearly write your content and lessons.
- Post model submission assignments.
- Post rubrics for grading.
- Ensure that the breadth of your content covers all of the content in the course outline of record.
- "Chunk” the information that you post for students.
- Ensure that your content meets the needs of students with different learning styles.
- Extend your students’ learning with optional web resources.
- When designing lengthy quizzes or exams, design them so students see one question at a time.
- Gather feedback from your students on the course so you can improve it for the future.
- Refrain from using copyrighted materials illegally.
Here are some examples of what well designed courses on Canvas look like:
- Algebra+ (Canvas Network Course, Peninsula College)
- Physics of Animation, by Alejandro Garcia (FFT, teaches for San Jose State University)
- Art Appreciation (Canvas Network Course, Open Course Library)
- Game Design Concepts (Canvas Network Course)
- History of Ancient Civilization (Canvas Network Course, Saylor.org)
You can find more great canvas sites on the Canvas Staff Picks list.
Best Practices in Designing Online Courses. (n.d.). Las Positas College. Retrieved July 17, 2013, from http://lpc1.clpccd.cc.ca.us/lpc/blackboard/b