Course Redesign, eLearning, Instructional Design

Back to School: How to Revamp an Online Course

photo by Dvortygirl

photo by Dvortygirl

As an instructional designer, you may be working with educators who have taught the same course for several semesters or years, but that doesn’t mean the course can’t be improved! Here are my suggestions for instructional designers working hand-in hand with the instructor to analyze what they know, identify how they can improve, and finally implement those improvements.

It is important to collate the information you already have about the learning experience of students. This information will provide the basis for strategic revisions for upcoming semesters. To analyze the course, answer the following questions:

  • Which activities did students struggle with last semester? What were their struggles?
  • What activities/assignments did not generate the student engagement the instructor had hoped/planned for?
  • Did the instructor receive a flurry emails from students regarding a specific question, topic, or activity?
  • What did you learn from student course evaluations from the last several semesters? Is there a trend?

After analyzing some of the ways the course can be improved, identify strategies to address those needs:

  • Do you need to revise or add additional instructions to more clearly communicate expectations about the course,  assignment, or activity?
  • Do prompts need to be reworked to better align with the objectives and expected outcomes?
  • Would an instructor led screencast aid in the learning process? Explain a difficult concept?
  • Could learning activities and lessons be enhanced by multimedia– videos, simulations, podcasts, etc.?

Once you’ve analyzed the data and identified how to enhance the course, strategically and methodically implement these changes. One of the advantages of online instruction is that modules and lesson plans can be fully developed weeks in advance. However, I recommend holding off on planning too far ahead.

At the time of implementation, you should also establish benchmarks for determining the impact or success of these changes. This will allow you to make revisions module by module, if necessary, so that students get the most out of the course and the leaner experience reaches is maximum potential.