10 Key Questions for Online and Blended Course Design

Redesigning your course: 10 questions

A blended and online course, by definition, reduces face-to-face “seat time” partially or completely so that students can pursue additional teaching and learning activities online. To be successful, a blended course requires careful pedagogical redesign. These ten questions offer you a way to start thinking about some of these design issues.



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Review the 10 questions below, identify 3 goals based on the questions below that you have for your own course, and rate them in order of importance.

1. As you think about your course redesign, what do you want students to *do* when they have finished taking your blended or online course? Which of your objectives might be met more successfully online than in a traditional face-to-face classroom? In consequence, what new challenging and engaging learning activities do you think you might introduce into your course to help students accomplish their learning outcomes?


2. Since you will be reducing “seat time” partially or wholly in your course, you need to identify alternative ways to deliver course content. Think about a specific topic that you usually present to your face-to-face class. How might you make that portion of your course content available online?  Is there existing content that is available online (via YouTube or websites) that you could use to help students gain knowledge about a topic rather than you having to produce the content?


3. Traditional testing is not the only way to assess your students’ work in an online environment. Assessing students in the online environment often requires a shift to focus on learner-centered assessment.  Examining your outcomes for the course and the student activities that will help them achieve these outcomes, what other means of assessing or documenting student learning might you decide to use online that would be more authentic?  What can you provide students to help manage their expectations about their performance and minimize your workload in answering questions or grading?


4. Online discussion forums and small group work can play a key role in online courses. What new learning opportunities will the use of online discussions and small group work open up for your students? What problems do you anticipate in using online discussions or small group work?


5. With the reduction or removal of seat time, your students will not be meeting face-to-face as frequently as in a traditional course, if at all.  Students often require more frequent communication and structured activities to help them connect. How will you develop a cohesive and well functioning peer group of online learners?


6. Students often have very unrealistic ideas about the amount and kind of work required for an online or a blended course. As well, students may have problems scheduling their online work and managing their time. How can you help your students to adjust their expectations for the course and manage their time more effectively?


7. Students sometimes have difficulty acclimating to the online course site and to other learning technologies you may be using. What initial steps can you take to assist students to become familiar with your course site, their activities in which they will be participating, and the technologies? If students need help with technology later in the course, how will you provide support?


8. How will you decide if your online or blended course redesign is a good one? For instance, during the initial offering of your course, how will you determine whether mid-semester adjustments are needed?


9. There is a common tendency for faculty to overcompensate when teaching online or blended courses and require their students (and themselves!) to do more work than they normally would in a face-to-face course (the "course-and-a-half syndrome"). How will you determine the appropriateness of the course requirements, and its implications for your own workload?


10. If you are redesigning a course for blended delivery, how will you integrate the online and face-to-face components of the course so that they complement and extend one another? In other words, how will the work done in each component feed back into and support the other?How do you think you would divide the percentage of course time and student assessment between online and face-to-face activities?