Excerpts from “Developing an Effective Online Course”

“There are five rules that make up good writing. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”

—William K. Zinsser, author of On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction

“I am not a teacher but an awakener.”
– Robert Frost, American poet


Choose the best way to communicate information

The goal of instruction is to close the gap between what people already know and what they need to know in order to perform the module objectives.

In “Making Instruction Work,” Robert F. Mager proposes the following formula for determining the content (in this case, the Instructor’s Notes):

What needs to be known

(minus) – What is already known
(equals) = What needs to be taught

Ask yourself:

  • What prevents the student from already practicing the objective?
  • Does the student need to know common errors to avoid?
  • Does the student need to know the procedure?
  • Are examples necessary?

Did I remember to:

  • Discuss the relevance of the module to the student?
  • Clarify how this module fits into the big picture?
  • Provide logical guidelines, or a clear model, for competent performance?
  • Describe or demonstrate “how to”?

Which Medium is Best?

The best way to communicate information depends on what you are communicating and why.
According to two folks at Unext.com, Jakob Nielsen and Donald Norman:
”We believe that education comes first, technology second. We exploit the power of each specific medium: Books, lectures, videos, the Internet, and the computer.”

  • Texts: Best medium for communicating concepts
  • Lectures and Videos of Lectures: Best for motivation, engagement, and emotional/empathetic or visual content
  • The Internet: A powerful tool for knowledge management, for social interaction, research and current events
  • Simulations and interaction: A powerful tool for engagement and exploration

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