It is essential that the instructor take the time to plan and organize the learning experience when engaged in teaching at a distance. The instructional design process provides the framework for planning. More often are we seeing traditional courses being redesigned and offered as distance learning. But often do not follow the instructional design process for a successful learning environment. As I reviewed this week Open Course resources, because they were entirely free, gave me the impression that they would be poorly designed. I have come to realize, that free doesn’t necessarily mean poor planning. As I reflect on this week’s Resources, an effective online course begins with planning. Being able to plan what you are going to teach through effective content guidelines allows for easy access of student use.
The Open Course that I examined was Massachusetts Institute of Technology Open Course: A free and open educational resource for educators, students, and self-learners around the world. http://ocw.mit.edu/index.html
The courses appeared to be carefully pre-planned and designed for a distance learning environment. The courses organization of content accessibility was like that of Walden University. Each instructor starts of by welcoming you to the course with course features, highlights, and a brief course description. Each course does a great job at deciding what knowledge, skills, and outcomes the student will gain after completing the course. Most institutions do not employ trained, professional instructional technology consultants whose functions are to assist faculty in online course development and the creation on learning objects (Simonson, 2010). One course in particular, Computational Camera and Photography, did not do a good job structuring the course activities to enable students to achieve the learning outcomes. I would go out on the limb to say that this was a shovelware course (p. 248). When instructors are able to do a thorough analysis, they will usually find out what the learner needs at each level as the course progress. Within the course description it states that, “students will learn hands-on projects”, but never explains anything about the equipment being issued or actually being demonstrated through online videos. This course does not follow the recommendations for online instruction as listed in your course textbook which states that:
• Training must be provided at the beginning of the course through online tutorials
• Stated the purpose of the assignments
• Identification of the intended audience
• Examples and non-example content
• Links to relevant resources
• Identification of the required components of the assignments
• Instructions for submitting assignments
Although Massachusetts Institute of Technology, stated that the development of their online open course resources were not intended for distance learning, their course are designed for independent learners who have few additional resources available to them. Because of this, the course designer implementation of course activities does not maximize active learning for the students. Some of the course have materials arranged in logical sequences and include some multimedia such as video and simulations but others simple state that video content is not available at this time. Because distance learning involves various forms of visual media such as text, handouts, videos, audio, and other graphical elements, content must be organize for student in a logical way (Simonson, 2010). Whether content is laid out in modules, units, or topics, you must decide the pace of instruction for the learner.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Open Course: A free and open educational resource for educators, students, and self-learners around the world.
Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2009). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (4th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.