Course Syllabus and Information
It is important that every section of a course be information that the learner can not do without easily. I have divided the top portion of this Moodle course into two parts.In the first part, the learner gains access to the course syllabus which is divided into linked pages for each area. This section also includes a Course Information section which links to pages that inform learners of ‘need to know’ online success tutorials and hints. Click on the image above to enlarge and note possible subjects online learners have had trouble with as they proceeded through my courses.
It is important to online learners to have the big picture before beginning a module or set of activities. I created this page for that purpose. It allows the learner to see the course outcome, module objectives, reading expectations and the activities on one screen.
Meeting Learner Needs
Assignments in the online course can take on a wide variety of personalities. I like to give the learner as much information as possible, but keep it on one screen. Note that in this screen shot, the assignment title, point value and overview are up front and center. This is helpful to those individuals who truly need the big picture first. They get to wrap their minds around the scope of the assignment before delving into the logistics.
When setting up instructions it is important to keep the action statements sequenced in order of purpose. Think: do this first, then do this. If you have information to add to the action, use sub-bullets to add this to the main directives.
Finally, offer information that will be helpful, i.e: How should the assignment be turned in? How many words? What file naming conventions should be used?
Rubrics meet a variety of needs in the online world. I always consider the student first. A well designed rubric lets the student know how the paper or project will be graded. In this case, the majority of the grade will be dedicated to the content of the paper. Did the learner demonstrate an in depth understanding of the theories, concepts, and/or strategies presented in the unit?
It is also important that the learner follow directions. The facilitator/lead teacher wants to be able to grade an assignment, rather than just a random rambling of thoughts. Therefore, I always make a portion of the grade contingent on “the student followed directions in the assignment.
Writing is a big issue in higher education. Believe it or not, students come to college and even Master’s programs without the “foggiest idea” of how to put two thoughts together (to quote my mother). They also need much direction on how and when to cite. So, in most graduate work, it is appropriate to tie a portion of the grade to writing. I find that the words, “clear, concise, and well organized” describe what we expect.
If expectations are presented in a clear, concise and well organized manner (yes, pun intended), then the learners will be able to fully understand how to proceed to get the expected results. Further, when it comes time to assess, the grader will have a road map to use as well as a reference if he/she meets with contention from the learner concerning grade procedures.