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December 19, 2012


Online Course Redesign for Better Engagement

I like to tell people that I’ve been designing an online course that I’ve been teaching for over 10 years. I say this because I feel that there is always room for improvement, and with the ever changing landscape of technology tools and LMS tools available, a good online course should never really be “finished.” It’s just ready for the next go round. Well, this next go round, Spring 2013, the ENG102 online course is due for a major upgrade. It seems only appropriate since so many others in Maricopa are going through their own redesigns as they move courses over from Blackboard to Instructure Canvas. I made the move a year ago, but now that I’m there or here, I’m ready for some major upgrades.

So like any good instructional designer would do, I did an analysis and came up with a list. The focus of the redesign is to make the course a little more engaging. I want for students to have more video and interactive lessons and less reading of handouts and texts. And when students do read the textbook, I want to give them more guidance for reading and remembering the concepts in those chapters. Here’s a quick preview of part of my list:


ENG102 Redesign list made in Evernote

I’m using Softchalk and video creation tools (iMovie, Pinnacle Studio 12 and Camtasia Studio 8) to make my lessons. I want for students to feel more like they are going to class instead of just doing assignments. Learn first, then practice by doing the assignments. So when they click on the weekly folder, there will be a clear pattern of read, watch, engage, practice, produce. I’m looking for engagement with the content, student to student, and with me each week. Students will engage with the content by having lessons with short auto-graded check questions embedded within and assigned readings with auto graded mini chapter quizzes in Connect Composition. They will engage with each other with the assignments that asked for students to share content with each other in discussion forums, VoiceThread discussions, peer review assignments, and an ongoing social bookmarking assignment in Diigo. Lastly students will engage in discussion with me with their assignments and prospectuses. Assignments are graded with lots of feedback and an opportunity to rewrite for a better grade, so we have engagement there once a week, as well as the feedback I give them on their audio/video prospectus assignments submitted every three weeks.

Most of the lessons are existing lessons, but many were not very engaging for students. They could read them or not, and probably still do okay on the assignments. By making them more interactive and more visual or auditory to cut down on the monotonous reading that many online students have to deal with, is what I was looking for. The new lessons are designed to encourage students to engage with the course content throughout the week and not just on the due date of the weekly assignment. So on the weekly page, I will give them suggested days to work and time estimates for completing the work for the week. Each week will require the minimum 2.5 hours of “class time” plus the recommended 6-9 hours of study/work time required for outside of class.

Hopefully seeing the recommended time requirements up front will encourage students to spend the time doing the work necessary to be successful in the course. And if they do, I hope these new lessons will be engaging and help them learn more.

  1. Louise So
    Dec 19 2012

    This was helpful. I am immersed in Canvas set up right now!

  2. thatcher
    Jan 2 2013

    I like to phrase “cute down”, though I’m not totally clear on it. Does it mean to make more or less cute? WAIT! I just got it – it’s a typo….
    (still think it could be a useful technique to cute things up/down!)

    • soul4real
      Jan 3 2013

      Yes, beautifying is also a priority for me as well, but not quite what I meant in that sentence. 😉

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