Designing online learning courses can be a rewarding and challenging endeavour. On one hand, it is rewarding because the course development process can result in a cost-efficient, results-effective and learner-responsive educational program. On the other hand, it is challenging because of the wide range of mistakes that can happen during the course development process.
Fortunately, these mistakes can be prevented with careful analysis of the online learning course from its formulation to its implementation and evaluation. Keep in mind that e-learning blunders can happen in all of these phases, thus, emphasizing the importance of consistent dedication to excellent quality.
Here are a few common mistakes that can be made during the development of online courses. Be aware of these mistakes so that you can prevent these from occurring in your own online learning course.
Using Traditional Training Methods Online
While many of the principles and practices of traditional classroom-based learning can be applied to Internet-based learning, most cannot be interchanged between the two media of instruction for obvious reasons. It cannot be overstated that e-learning students have unique instructional needs and wants, thus, the teaching methods and means are different as well.
- Converting traditional learning programs to online learning can be easier with these useful tips:
- Identify the best course format. A face-to-face course can be successfully converted into one of the following e-learning formats, namely:
- Asynchronous learning wherein students directly interact with the course content via a technology system, such as Q&A mentoring, emails, and online discussion groups.
- Synchronous learning wherein student-teacher interactions are in real time (i.e., all participants simultaneously log in).
- Hybrid learning wherein learning events combines both asynchronous and synchronous learning as well as face-to-face instruction.
- Choose the best instructional design model for your online learning course. Your choices may include Nine Events of Instruction and ADDIE.
- Use interaction methods, which should include learner to content, learner to instructor, and learner to learner instruction.
- Select the best educational technology.
If necessary, hire an expert in converting a classroom-based material to an online learning course.
Creating without Clear Goals and Objectives
Yet another mistake in designing Internet-based educational programs is the absence of clear goals and objectives. It must be emphasized that setting clear goals and objectives is the foundation of success for online learning courses for several reasons, such as defining the target audience and determining the desired outcomes upon course completion.
Setting clear goals and objectives can be easier with the following tips:
- Use specific terms particularly on action-oriented objectives. Avoid using general terms and vague words
- Know your target audience. Ask yourself who your audience is, what they want in an online learning course, and why they want to achieve these goals.
- Create goals and objectives that are mutually beneficial for everybody concerned, such as the students and teachers.
Read your goals and objectives from the prospective students’ point of view – if you are satisfied about them, then your target audience will likely feel the same way, too.
Skipping on Good Website Design and Development
Always remember that your online learning website has multiple purposes. These purposes include being your marketing tool to attract prospective students; instruction medium to teach your present students; and evaluation tool to determine the achievement of the desired outcomes, among others.
The bottom line: When your website has poor design and development aspects, your e-learning course will suffer in so many ways. You are less likely to attract prospective students because the website looks ugly and feels ungainly (i.e., poor navigation). Your students will be unsatisfied with their lessons because of poor layout, text and images, and navigation tools, among others.
The most common mistakes in the design and development of an online learning website include:
- Menu items in inappropriate order
- Colour scheme including use of contrast results in eye fatigue
- Issues with timing, such as characters and images simultaneously appearing onscreen with eye-jarring results
- Failure to reuse relevant design elements (e.g., titles)
Most important, be sure to check the content of your online learning course for, indeed, content is king when it comes to education. Avoid poorly structured content from the introduction to the conclusion as your prospective students will be turned off from enrolling in the course.