Course Design

If you are considering teaching online for the first time, this is a good opportunity to review your course materials and think "outside the box" when designing your online course. Faculty have been very imaginative with using new teaching strategies such as virtual field trips, online simulations, puzzles, group projects and games. Your syllabus is your starting point. If you have a well-developed syllabus, it will guide you through the course development process.

Student Learning Outcomes

So what exactly is a Student Learning Outcome and how does it apply to distance education? A Student Learning Outcome (SLO) is described as the knowledge, skills, abilities, and attitudes that students have attained by the end of any set of college experiences – classes, occupational programs, degrees and certificates and even encounters with Student Services or the Library. The stress is on what students can DO with what they have learned, resulting in some sort of product that can be evaluated.

When designing your course, try to define Student Learning Outcomes by thinking of the big picture.

  • Describe the broadest goals for the class, ones that require higher-level thinking
  • Require students to synthesize many discreet skills or areas of content.
  • Ask them to then produce something - papers, projects, portfolios,
    demonstrations, performances, art works, exams etc. – that applies what they
    have learned.
  • Evaluate or assess the product to measure a student’s achievement or mastery of the outcomes.

It's not rocket science, and probably something you do very well in your traditional face-to-face class. Think about the most useful resources for your students such as course e-packs, supplemental readings, web experiments, simulations, or audio presentations. What will be the most successful process for acquiring the skills you outline in your learning outcomes? What are your own instructional strengths and weaknesses? Do you need to get training, or tap the skills of others? What are the most effective evaluation/assessment tools you can incorporate into your class?

Organize a course folder with your ideas, outlines, and a digital backup of your current course materials. Create a web page with URL links to the resources you find most useful, and begin to collect images, movie files, audio files, and any other assets you want to use in your course.

Think about how some of the new technologies might fit into your course design. For example, if you teach a language, a series of audio podcasts for download would give value to your course. If you teach a science, check out for simulations, or online demonstrations. Talk to the college Librarian for a list of web resources in your discipline. See Tutorials

Course Development

  • investigate the research in distance education in your field
  • review existing prepackaged course materials
  • analyze what technology and support systems are available in terms of what your learner needs
  • start out slowly in terms of numbers of sites and students

Students Needs

  • offer a pre-class technology orientation for your students
  • remember that presenting content at a distance may be more time consuming than traditional methods
  • diversify the course activities, chunk your material into comfortable sessions, and avoid prolonged singular delivery methods, such as lectures
  • develop opportunities for student reinforcement, review, and remediation
  • humanize the course by focusing on the students rather than the methodology
  • get students actively engaged, thinking, applying, defending, refuting, reporting, and self-assessing

Improved Communication

  • use pre-class study questions and advance organizers
  • verify students are comfortable with the communication methods early in the course
  • integrate a variety of communication modes for backup
  • contact every student, every week, and early in the course

DE @ Cabrillo

Copyright — who owns the online course? The right to copyright belongs to the faculty or staff member responsible for its creation. If the faculty or staff member was comissioned by the College to create the materials, then the College may claim the right to copyright the materials. If you use College resources to develop the course, then either the College retains the right to copyright or you will be asked to reimburse the College for the cost of the production. This includes use of College services, staff, or financial resources. See the CCFT contract for details.

May I use copyrighted materials behind a password protected website without copyright permission? The TEACH ACT defines what and how copyrighted materials may be used for the purposes of online education. Review this information carefully.

Cabrillo College Guidelines for Quality Online Courses
Some of the topics covered are: course layout, content considerations, pedagogy, key questions and it includes an online course planner.

Sample materials

Suggested Reading

MUST READ > > A Fieldbook for Community Colleges, Online Instructors by Kent Farnsworth and Teresa Brawner Bevis, 2006 (On reserve in the College Library)

Faculty Guide for Moving Teaching and Learning to the Web, Second Edition
Judith V. Boettcher and Rita-Marie Conrad, 280 pages, 2004

Student Learning Outcomes and Instructional Planning, Planning & Research Office, Cabrillo College

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