Do you know what the easy part of creating your online course is? Deciding to create it. More often than not, you will get stumped just laying down the outline of your course’s curriculum. However, you don’t need to have a degree in Education to create your own curriculum for your online course. What you need is an idea, a computer, and the ability to remember some important rules in online course curriculum creation.
Never Forget the Details
Students during the first day at any school will often pore through the syllabus to have an idea as to what they will encounter through the course, answering some questions they might have as they go through it. Since such an activity is not available in an online class, you need to be as detailed as possible as you can when writing the syllabubs.
It is important that you do not skip on the procedures since your course will provide a modulated solution to a very specific problem. This will also give you the chance to preempt problems before you start the course as you discuss with the class several details regarding the program.
Always Start with the Community in Mind
Despite the technological and physical barriers, you must understand that an online classroom is still, well, a classroom. This basically means it is basically a communal structure where discussion is the central feature. This is why you should build a community first for your students in order to facilitate a better exchange of information once class actually starts.
If possible, plan your first lessons to tackle on the light stuff to build the community. Always remember that discussions require trust and trust can only be built if you and the rest of the class get to know each other in spite of the virtual limitations.
If Someone Can Say it Better than You, Let Them
One of the hurdles you will have to face in creating your online course curriculum is making yourself sound like an authority over the subject matter you are handling. This is where a lot of course creators get stuck when creating their courses since they overcompensate by making sure that everything written in their curriculum is 100% theirs.
However, what you need to understand is that you don’t actually have to limit yourself with your own knowledge when creating your own curriculum. You can draw in references from the books that taught you or, better yet, the people that you have been instructed under or worked with. Always keep in mind that there is more than 1 way to say something. If someone you know or in the Internet has a superior way of delivering the same message that you are trying to convey, it does not hurt to reference them.
(Warning: the key word here is “reference”, not “rip off”. Try your best not to plagiarize content for your online course or this could lead to a lot of problems in the future.)
A good teacher knows that humans work best when following a pattern. When creating each module of your course, make sure that each student can find a pattern as this will allow them to gradually ease themselves to the pace of your class. It might be that each of your modules start with an overview followed by the general discussion and then ended with either a quiz or an activity. This also means that you should be able to commit to the sequence you have set for the course with some changes here and there in case of emergencies. After all, being too arbitrary with your classes actually defeats the purpose of having a course curriculum in the first place.
…But not Monotonous
One disadvantage that conventional (i.e. physical) lectures have from online courses is that they tend to separate content from engagement. Basically, the teacher drones on for a good hour or 90 minutes and the students only interact when assignments are announced or quizzes pop up. This should not be the case for your online course if you really want your students to learn something despite the limitations of the platform.
There are hosting sites out there that provide you with the tools to interact with your students and them with you. Why not take advantage of these tools by interspersing your activities to allow students to immediately apply their learnings? A constant cycle of learning, practice, and reflection every 20 minutes is the key to moving the knowledge they learn from the short-term memory department of the brain to the long-term memory.
One Last Thing to Consider
Developing a highly engaging course curriculum is not exactly as easy you might think it is. For most of the time, you will have to revise it to meet new standards or even your own ideals and vision. But think of it this way: the more you improve on your plan, the more the end product will represent your ideals and aspirations for the course. If possible, do what college instructors do when developing their course outlines for a semester: do it a few months in advance.