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«Distance Education Course Design: Guidelines for Student Success This document is to be used as a guide by individuals who are developing online, ...»

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Distance Education Course Design: Guidelines for Student Success

This document is to be used as a guide by individuals who are developing online, hybrid, or web-enhanced courses or redesigning existing


Project Introduction

This document was developed by the Connecticut Community College System's Teaching & Learning Team, which is principally

concerned with ensuring that instructors using Blackboard are cognizant of instructional best practices concerning online

teaching and learning guidelines. The T&L team is charged with the following tasks:

 Defining best practices in online instruction that align with the system’s mission and strategic goals.1  Determining ways to deploy and support these practices system-wide.

The T&L team includes members of all relevant stakeholder groups, including academic deans, faculty members, distance learning managers from both the System Office and the colleges, members of the Center for Teaching, and other academically oriented groups in our system. The team’s focus is on creating opportunities and resources that emphasize the ways in which Blackboard can be used to enhance learning, teaching, and collaboration that will benefit both students and faculty.

The best practice strategies in the document have been reviewed and recommended for integration into all Blackboard training by the Academic Deans Council, the Distance Learning Council, and the Center for Teaching.

Evidence-Based Principles of Teaching and Learning The term “pedagogy” encompasses the approach, the methods and strategies, and the underlying epistemology of an approach to teaching. The skills, training, and commitment of the instructor are critical to the implementation of an effective online pedagogy.

Courses that make use of online instructional technologies require different strategies to present content, interact with students, and assess course outcomes. Ultimately, however, the specific strategies selected for use by an instructor depend on his or her personal philosophical beliefs about teaching and learning. The guidelines in this document are equally relevant for instructors regardless of whether their course delivery will be in a “web-enhanced” on-ground course section, a “hybrid” course (a course that is taught partially online and partially in a classroom), or a fully-online course.

(Online instruction may be defined as any educational process in which Internet technology is used to facilitate a student’s ability to access course content and activities, and to communicate--asynchronously or synchronously--with the instructor and other students.) Distance Education Course Design: Guidelines for Student Success (rev 1/9/12) Questions contact: tkrutt@commnet.edu P a g e |1 In 1987, the AAHE Bulletin first published “Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education,” followed by a book, "Applying the Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education" by Chickering and Gamson (1991). Recently, an updated set of evidence-based principles has emerged (Ambrose, et. al., 2010) that in some cases clarify and in other respects expand upon Chickering and Gamson’s principles. The guidelines in this document have been evaluated against these principles, and include many specific strategies that align with each of them. The following seven research-based principles focus on best practices

of teaching (adapted from the originals, which focus on the learner’s perspective):

1. Recognize that learners’ prior knowledge can help or hinder learning.

2. Structure course content in ways that help learners organize knowledge, which influences how they learn and helps them apply what they know.

3. Stimulate learners’ motivation to generate, direct, and sustain what they do to learn.

4. For learners to develop mastery (expertise) in a subject, they need opportunities to acquire, practice, integrate, and apply the skills they have learned.

5. Provide goal-directed practice coupled with targeted feedback to enhance the quality of student learning.

6. Recognize that learners’ current level of development interacts with the social, emotional, and intellectual climate to impact learning.

7. To become self-directed, instructors must help learners develop the skills to monitor and adjust their approaches to

learning. Specifically, students must learn to:

o Assess the demands of the task o Evaluate their own knowledge and skills o Plan their approach o Monitor their progress o Adjust their strategies as needed Pre- and Post-Course Planning  Review your course design with your college’s Director of Educational Technology.

 Decide if your online course will require on-ground orientation and/or assessments.

 Decide which course materials (if any) are available, since students get access to the course shell two weeks prior to the official Start Date.

 Make a course backup at the beginning and the end of the semester.

 Have an alternate plan in case Blackboard is unavailable.

 Check all availability, adaptive release, and due dates for accuracy.

 Reflect on your experience teaching your courses last semester: What went well? What could be improved? What changes to Distance Education Course Design: Guidelines for Student Success (rev 1/9/12) Questions contact: tkrutt@commnet.edu P a g e |2 your course shell could enhance student success?

Course Design Checklist Each instructor should determine which of these recommended practices is appropriate to his or her discipline and teaching preferences. Additionally, each instructor should determine the extent to which these recommendations apply individually or collectively to the online component of the course. In the tables below, you can indicate in the checkboxes in the left-hand columns whether you already have the item in your course (Had it!) or wish to include new items, activities or information (Add it!). The checkboxes in this document are interactive, so you can modify the document electronically and save it if you wish. To “check” a box ( ) just double click on it and change the Default value to “checked”. Strategies that the guidelines development team deemed particularly important are bolded.

–  –  –

Distance Education Course Design: Guidelines for Student Success (rev 1/9/12) Questions contact: tkrutt@commnet.edu P a g e |3 have covered “in class.”

–  –  –

Distance Education Course Design: Guidelines for Student Success (rev 1/9/12) Questions contact: tkrutt@commnet.edu P a g e |9 Provide specific guidelines for group work such as defining roles, responsibilities, and expectations for group members, as well as timelines and grading criteria (e.g. group grade, individual grade, or blended grade based on degree of participation).

–  –  –

Distance Education Course Design: Guidelines for Student Success (rev 1/9/12) Questions contact: tkrutt@commnet.edu P a g e | 10


Note: Retrieval dates for many of the original reference articles URLs listed below were updated with the revised version of this document in July 2011.

Ambrose, S., Bridges, M., Lovett, C., DiPietro, M., and Norman, M. (2010). How Learning Works: Seven Research Based Principles for Smart Teaching. John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

Berge, Z., & Collins, M. P. (1996). Facilitating interaction in computer mediated computer courses. Retrieved July 8, 2011 from http://members.fortunecity.com/rapidrytr/dist-ed/roles.html Boettcher, J. (2000, February). Another look at the tower of wwwebble. Retrieved April 22, 2005, from California Community Colleges Web Site: http://www.tipsnews.org/newsletter/00-02/wwwebble.html.

Boettcher, J. V. (2003, July 21). Course management systems and learning principles: Getting to know each other. Retrieved July 8, 2011 from http://campustechnology.com/Articles/2003/06/Course-Management-Systems-and-Learning-Principles-Getting-to-Know-EachOther.aspx?Page=2&p=1 Brennan, R. (2003a). One size doesn't fit all: Pedagogy in the online environment-Volume 2. Australia: Australian National Training Authority. Retrieved July 8, 2011 from http://www.ncver.edu.au/ (free registration and log-in required).

Dabbagh, B. S. (1999). Web-based course authoring tools: Pedagogical implications. Paper presented at the meeting of the Ed-Media 99 Conference. Retrieved January 22, 05 from http://classweb.gmu.edu/ndabbagh/edmedia.html.

Dabbagh, N. (2004, January 24). The instructional design knowledge base. Retrieved January 24, 2004, from George Mason University Web, Instructional Technology Program Website: http://classweb.gmu.edu/ndabbagh/Resources/IDKB/index.htm.

Dabbagh, N., & Burton, L. (1999). The design, development, implementation, and evaluation of a graduate level course for teaching webbased instruction. Proceedings of the North American Web conference, NAW 1999, Fredricton, New Brunswick. Retrieved February 21, 2005, from http://naweb.unb.ca/proceedings/1999/dabbagh/dabbagh.html Doolittle, P.E. (1999, October). Constructivism and Online Education. Paper presented at the meeting of the International Online Conference: Teaching Online in Higher Education, Fort Wayne, In. Retrieved July 8, 2011, from http://web.archive.org/web/20061208070911/http://edpsychserver.ed.vt.edu/workshops/tohe1999/text/doo2.pdf Jonassen, D. H. (2004). IT Forum Paper #1. In Technology as cognitive tools: Learners as designers. Retrieved February 28, 2005, from http://it.coe.uga.edu/itforum/paper1/paper1.html.

Maor, D. (2004 December). Pushing beyond the comfort zone: Bridging the gap between technology and pedagogy. Paper presented at the meeting of the Proceeding of the 21st ASCILITE Conference. Retrieved January 5, 2005 from http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/perth04/procs/maor.html.

McGee, P., Carmean, C., & Jafari, A. (2005). Course management systems for learning: Beyond accidental pedagogy. London:

Information Science Publishing.

Distance Education Course Design: Guidelines for Student Success (rev 1/9/12) Questions contact: tkrutt@commnet.edu P a g e | 11 Moore, M. G., & Kearsley, G. (1996). Distance education: A systems view. Boston, MA: Wadsworth Publishing Company.

Morgan, G. (2003, May). Faculty use of course management systems. Retrieved January 30, 2005, from Educause Center for Applied Research Web Site: http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ecar_so/ers/ers0302/ekf0302.pdf National Center for Online Learning Research. (2005). National Center for Online Learning Research. Retrieved April 10, 2005, from http://www.ncolr.org/. (No longer accessible as of July 8, 2011) Nasseh, B. (04/08/2002). Search for a new pedagogy: Implications for the development of the constructivist pedagogy in Internet-based education. Paper presented at the meeting of the OHECC Conference. Retrieved April 8, 2005 from http://web/bsu/edu/ohecc/planner.asp.

(No longer available as of July 8, 2011) Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (1999). Building learning communities in cyberspace: Effective strategies for the online classroom. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, Inc.

Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2000, October). Making the transition: Helping teachers to teach online. Paper presented at the meeting of the Educause. Nashville, TN.

Reeves, T. C. (1994). Evaluating what really matters in computer-based education. In M. Wild & D. Kirkpatrick, (Eds.), Computer education: New Perspectives (p. 219-246). Perth, Australia:MASTEC. Retrieved July 8, 2011, from http://www.eduworks.com/Documents/Workshops/EdMedia1998/docs/reeves.html

Ullman, C., & Rabinowitz, M. (2004, October). Course management systems and the reinvention of instruction. T.H.E. Journal Online:

Technological Horizons in Education. Retrieved July 8, 2011, from http://www.gilfuseducationgroup.com/course-management-systemsand-the-reinvention-of-instruction University of Illinois. (1999). Teaching at an Internet distance: The pedagogy of online teaching and learning. Retrieved July 8, 2011, from http://www.ecls.ncl.ac.uk/webprimary/elearning/Reports%5EUniversity%20of%20Illinois%20Faculty%20Seminar%5Ethe%20Pedagogy %20of%20Online%20Teaching%20and%20Learning%20-%201999%20and%20HE%20but%20still%20worth%20a%20look.pdf Web-Based Education Commission. (2000). The power of the Internet for learning: Final report of web-based education commission.

Retrieved March 15, 2005, from http://www.ed.gov/offices/AC/WBEC/FinalReport/index.html.

Yukselturk, E. & Bulut, S. (2007). Predictors for Student Success in an Online Course. Educational Technology & Society, 10 (2), 71-83. Retrieved July 8, 2011 from http://www.ifets.info/journals/10_2/7.pdf Distance Education Course Design: Guidelines for Student Success (rev 1/9/12) Questions contact: tkrutt@commnet.edu P a g e | 12


Active learning In traditional or pedagogical education, material to be learned is often transmitted to students by teachers. That is, learning is passive. In active learning, students are much more actively engaged in their own learning while educators take a more guiding role. This approach is thought to promote processing of skills/knowledge to a much deeper level than passive learning. Related terms/concepts include: experiential learning, hands on learning. Taken from: Herod, L. (2002).Adult learning from theory to practice.

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