What does good online courseware look like?
Good online courseware takes into account students various learning styles. Not all students will absorb information in a digital platform via text without some sort of interaction with the content. There needs to be multifaceted content that meets students learning needs in a variety of ways as with any well designed instruction. Students should have the opportunity to read, view, listen, and discuss the content just as they might in a brick and mortar setting only it takes place in a digital setting either synchronously or asynchronously or even in a hybrid blended learning setting. As with any instruction, clear learning goals should be established and the best tool given the learning goal should be selected to guide the student in the learning process in order to maintain balance between the psychological and behavior motivation factors involved in student engagement. Multimedia for the sake of multimedia doesn’t work. Those curricular enhancements should be carefully selected in alignment with the learning goal and student outcomes given the goals of learning the particular content. Good online courseware has a balance of video, audio, and text elements. It may even have some choice about which way to access the content give learner needs. For example, some students may prefer written directions to learning a new software program while others may learn best from viewing a video with the same instructions. On the student experience both options could be presented and the student could make the choice to use one or the other or even a combination of the two.
Ideally courses in an online environment would have a blend of both synchronous and asynchronous activities in the learning process. In a course experience where there aren’t synchronous meetings there needs to be clear established ways for students to share and discuss in order to create a sense of community within a class. Such a through a discussion blog, Voicethread, or other social mediums in which there can be interactions via text, audio, and video response this fosters deeper growth and understanding of the course content.