by Sven Åke Bjørke, University of Agder, Norway, March 2017
An online course can be a 5-minute instruction on how to operate a tractor, bake a cake or maintain a machine. It can also be a modularised, complex, degree-giving, well structured and rich learning environment with collaborating peers, tutors, study guides, assignment calendar and various learning resources; all carefully developed by a team of highly qualified experts on subject content, pedagogy and ICT.
When you venture into the rapidly developing world of e-learning and online courses, there are certain basic issues to consider.
- What do you want to achieve? What are your goals? What difference is your course going to make? Do you want it to have any impact? If so, what?
- The target group. Who are your students going to be? Who is your audience? How will you characterise the typical course participant? Age? Gender? Nationality? Education level? Language ability? Special interests? Expectations? Background?
- Should the course be purely netbased or blended with some face-to-face meetings?
- Course literature – paper books or online books and articles only?
- Scope? How many hours in total should a participant expect to put in?
- ILOs – what are the intended learning outcomes?
- Credit giving? Exams? Assessment criteria?
- Pedagogical approach?
- Learning resources? (Videos, games, quizzes, e-books, animations, links library etc)
- Open to anyone or restricted? Requirements for access?
- Feedback systems?
- LMS – Learning Management System? What do you require from the LMS?
When you start making your first online course, you will soon realise that the challenges and opportunities are almost endless. Anyway, you can be sure that online learning and ICT-supported education is already established, and will increasingly be part of any relevant education for the future.