If you’re still among the ranks of teachers who find that designing e-courses is a complex and daunting task, this article will prove you otherwise. Compared to writing lesson plans (for example) it’s actually very fun! And the process itself is not really that different. Maybe you’re feeling a little intimidated by the technological barrier, but you should be reassured the learning curve is not so steep… and it will be definitely be worth your time, since creating this type of content is of crucial important for the educators of tomorrow.
Software packages such as Joomla LMS King feature extensive documentation and tutorials (including video) to help you get started. For this article, we’re focusing on subtle considerations that can make a big difference in the efficiency of your e-courses.
A lot of time and effort can be spared if you plan things through in paper before actually starting to use the software! You need to establish a solid working plan that will help you excel in doing this task. Start with an outline of the course topics and take it from there. The key reasoning should be to strategically drip feed content rather than just transcribing your lesson plans. That’s how you secure the engagement of the students in these platforms: by pushing them along step by step so they will find it easier to focus on one thing at a time.
This may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s better to be as succinct as possible when devising an e-course. Readability should be your main concern, as well as clarity. To this effect, you should avoid using long-winded sentences and just stick to the basics. If additional details are need for certain topics, why not embed them as a link or expandable box? This will help students learn faster by keeping them focused on the core concepts before diving into the details.
You should also try to keep the design as clean as possible. Avoid using too many colors or any distracting backgrounds. Do not add pictures unless they have a point, and make sure to place navigation buttons clearly and visibly. It’s also good practice to keep the page from scrolling and use plenty of white space for each page so the students won’t be overwhelmed with excessive information – and also so they stay focused in one thing at a time.
This is one of the most basic elements of design: consistency. For an e-course to look professional, it’s much to do with small details such as the fonts used (keep them to a minimum) and the formatting. Make to come up with a plan in advance so you won’t have to waste time with trivialities like adjusting all headers to make sure they’re the same size and font. If you decide these matters in advance and write them down, you’ll find the development of the content will be a breeze, since you’ll only have to focus on the content itself.
Adding multimedia content (such as videos and images) is a great idea, as long as it’s relevant. Never add graphics just to decorate the page. Everything should add to the presentation and contribute to the point being made. The adage “less is more” often applies here. Remember, all the knowledge you’re trying to convey is available somewhere on-line, but that won’t cut it. Your job as an educator is also to engage the student, and keep them interested in going through the course.
While it’s absolutely a good idea to include additional resources, book and materials that allow students to expand their knowledge, it’s all about the placement. Don’t just list a page at the end of each topic with “additional resources”. Make sure to also intersperse those same resources in the content via hyperlinks, so they will be readily available in context.
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