Planning an Online Course begins by presenting Tips for Effective Online Teaching. It then provides additional planning information which guides faculty through the process of organizing and designing their material for online presentation. Organization is key, so faculty are encouraged to gather their materials and create outlines for each module of materials including objectives, topics to think about, assignments, resources, and instructions for the online discussion.

Once initial organization process is completed, review the experiential learning model  (off-site link). You are encouraged to vary the content delivery to ensure engagement with the content as well as the learning community including the accommodation of multiple learning styles. Guidelines are provided to assist with the organization of the content within their course shell as they populate it with course materials including creating folders for each module.

Building community is a key to a successful online course, so faculty are encouraged to enter the instructor information into the content area with suggested content such as a photo or audio/video introduction, links to their personal website, office hours, and a personal narrative. Faculty are also encouraged to build community through the use of online discussion forums and social networking tools. Information on designing, managing, and optimizing these types of tools is found in the Collaborative Tools module.

Finally, since communication within the course, about the course is frequently overlooked, faculty are encouraged to post introductory and weekly announcements to the class and an example is provided to get them started.

expand, engage, explain, explore,assessThis module contains 10 tips for creating a learner-centric online learning environment. The narrative for each tip is no more than a paragraph.

The planning and design of online content requires us to strike a unique balance between a course that is highly structured and detailed prior to the first day of class, with the need to retain flexibility and spontaneity as it relates to both teaching and learning. Students interacting with online content need to experience a course site that is well designed, permitting them to navigate through it with little confusion and gain a clear sense of what is expected. And, that those same online students also need to know that there is always room for exploring the unexpected; raising unanticipated questions or following the unforeseen learning path.

This module provides recommendations and resources for designing pedagogically sound distance courses.