Planning Your Course Structure and Design: Part 2


In Part 1, we introduced the eight categories of Course Structure and Design that are integral to planning your online course and broke down the first three categories:


1. Course Format

2. Technology

3. Communication & Support


Congratulations! You've made it to Part 2. In today's blog, we're tackling the next two categories:


4. Content Delivery

5. Assessment Strategy

6. Development Plan

7. Implementation Plan

8. Evaluation Plan


The final three will be covered in next week's blog, Part 3 (so stay tuned!)

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Remember, if you want a detailed, interactive look at these categories and other helpful course planning tips and tricks, pre-register for the first set of courses in the new C&T Academy. It's free if you sign up today!

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4. Content Delivery


What?

The various ways in which to deliver your course content to students.


While this sounds like an obvious step, it can end up being deceptively complicated—how you deliver your course content depends heavily on the decisions you made for the first three categories: your course format, technology, and communication & support. The decisions you made then will inform what is available and viable for and supportive of your content delivery methods.


Another important factor in determining your content delivery method is its level of accessibility.


Below, let's break down our examples into the two main course format options, as out of the three prior categories covered in Part 1, your course format will have the most significant impact on your content delivery. We'll further organize them into seven main categories. Each of the seven categories details some of the ways that particular content can be delivered in either an asynchronous or synchronous course format.


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Synchronous


Lecture

Live video conferences and interactive presentations.

Reading

Virtual textbooks, handouts, and other reading materials, ebooks, LMS pages.

Audio/visual

Live video conferences, videos, audio, images.

Demonstration

Live video conferences, shared whiteboards.

Discussion

Live chats, peer group discussions, discussion boards, polling apps.

Practice

Live question and answer feedback forums, quizzes, activity sheets, group collaboration and projects.

Teaching Others

Live video conferences, discussions, and group work.


Asynchronous


Lecture

Pre-recorded and produced videos and presentations.

Reading

Virtual textbooks, eBooks, LMS pages.

Audio/visual

Pre-recorded video conferences, videos, audio, images.

Demonstration

Pre-recorded and produced videos, LMS pages, and presentations.

Discussion

Discussion boards.

Practice

Quiz items with automated and immediate feedback, scenarios and simulations.

Teaching Others

Scenarios and simulations.


Why?

How you deliver your content has the most direct impact on student learning than any other course element, as it is an important factor in determining student satisfaction.


Additionally, the level of accessibility your content delivery method allows for will directly impact your student enrollment, as it affects who can take your courses. A good rule of thumb is: the more accessible your course is, the more people can take it—and the more successful it will be.


Imagine the following scenarios:


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Misaligned with Steps 1-3

  • You want to engage with your students in live discussions, but you chose an asynchronous course format that doesn't allow for all of your students to access crucial content.

  • You've chosen content delivery methods that are very interactive but are more complex as a result. However, your LMS isn't advanced enough to support content delivery at that level, so you must rework a large portion of your course content to deliver it within your technology's framework.

  • Your want to offer live question and answer feedback forums in your synchronous course, but your communication and support framework doesn't allow for content to be delivered that way.

Misaligned with Audience Needs

Data shows that the typical student that enrolls in a particular online course does better in lessons that focus on teaching others—however, that content delivery method only makes up a small portion of the overall course.

Inaccessible

A portion of your audience needs the option to download text versions of videos, but you don't offer that delivery method.



5. Assessment Strategy


What?

Assessment strategies are the methods with which you assess your course.


There are three main assessment strategies to cover: formative assessments, summative assessments, and confirmative assessments.

  • Formative assessments occur as the course is being taught and measure students' satisfaction and whether course goals and learning objectives are on track to being met.

  • Summative assessments occur at the conclusion of a course (or module, chapter, or phase of a course) and measure what students got out of the course, what they learned, and if the course goals and learning objectives were met.

  • Confirmative assessments occur after the course has been in use for some time and assess the relevancy, accuracy, and importance of your course through feedback and data points collected from previous students and iterations of the course.

Below, let's break down our examples into the two main course format options, as, similar to content delivery, out of the three prior categories covered in Part 1, your course format will have the most significant impact on your assessment strategies.


We'll further organize assessment examples into two* of the three main categories discussed above. Both categories detail assessment strategies that can be used in synchronous or asynchronous courses. Both categories detail assessment strategies that can be used in synchronous or asynchronous courses.


*Since confirmative assessments occur regardless of the content format, and utilize data points from formative and summative assessments of past courses, they do not need to be counted below.


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Synchronous


Formative Assessments

  • Live teacher-student check-ins, discussions, and feedback sessions.

  • Live self-assessment and self-reflective evaluations.

  • Live activity sheets.

  • Live quizzes (including pop quizzes) and tests.

  • Live peer topic discussions and grading.

  • Live discussion boards.

  • Live polling.

Summative Assessments

  • Live midterms and exams (including oral exams).

  • Live written papers.

  • Live final projects.

Asynchronous


Formative Assessments

  • Teacher-student check-ins and feedback via email/other non-instantaneous methods.

  • Offline student self-assessments and self-reflective evaluations.

  • Offline activity sheets (non-collaborative).

  • Offline quizzes and tests.

  • Offline discussion boards.

  • Surveys.

Summative Assessments

  • Midterms and exams.

  • Written papers.

  • Final projects.


Why?

There's no improvement without assessment. Comprehensive assessment strategies are crucial to developing an effective course and for measuring the achievement, progression, and satisfaction of your students—all of which determine the overall success of your course.