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Reflection: Learning Experiences in Online Course Design

July 9, 2013

One significant learning experience during this course was the comparison of two online courses. This assignment was very timely because my institution is transitioning to a new course management system this year and summer online courses for our undergraduate students had just started the same week. It was illuminating for me to see the design of a course in the new course management system.

Creating a rubric helped me to prioritize what I think to be most important in online course design. In addition to some generally accepted criteria such as appearance, navigation, and discussions, I focused on access to faculty, online resources, and access to library resources.

I was pleasantly surprised by the ease of navigation in a brand new system.  Both courses were intuitive which leads me to believe that this new wave of course management systems are improving the design overall. I anticipate that social media will also continue to be integrated more fully into these systems as they develop into the future. Another thing that I learned in this course is the importance of well-designed discussion posts. I think that discussion posts are often afterthoughts that a professor adds quickly to ensure participation. That leads to ineffective discussions and student frustration. Rather, well-designed discussion forums can enhance participation and interaction and lead to unique learning opportunities.

I was surprised that office hours were not clearly posted and that technology was not fully integrated in creating virtual office hours. As I work to connect with busy graduate students in our new MSN program, I will attempt to create virtual office hours and easy ways to virtually connect to this student population.

I was very interested to learn how library resources were integrated into the two courses I evaluated. I discovered that our resources were not well integrated into the course. For one course, the librarian information was provided, but no links to the library or to specific resources existed.

Based on this assignment, I will work with faculty as they transition to this new course management system. I will encourage them to include links to specific library resources that would be useful to students at particular times in the course. For example, I have already created library pages for specific courses which highlight relevant online resources, books and articles. Linking to this page from the online course page would benefit student learning and increase interactions between the students and the librarian.

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