The Course Design Toolkit: A Bird's Eye View on the Blended / Online Course Design Process

Concurrent Session 8

Brief Abstract

This session presents a comprehensive toolkit that serves instructors and e-Learning professionals involved in designing Blended and Online courses.

Additional Authors

I am an Instructional Designer with 10 years of experience in Higher Education. I have completed a BS in Computer Science and a teaching Diploma in Educational Technology from the American University of Beirut, and a Master’s degree in Distance Education, with emphasis on eLearning, from the University of Maryland University College. Since 2005, I have been fully involved in researching teaching methodologies and effective practices for exemplary course design. I see Instructional Design an ultimate means to seek excellence in learning.

Extended Abstract

Instructors at the American University of Beirut (AUB) are always keen on improving their way of teaching, and equally committed to choosing a suitable course delivery method for them and their students. Although AUB has a well established IT Academic Services department that offers e-Learning support to all its academic community, faculty members often do not have the time to spare to attend workshops or enroll in instructor-led training. This is the main driver behind the change we inevitably had to embrace to cater to the faculty development needs of our academic staff.
Every semester since the spring of 2009, we, the instructional designers on campus, have delivered a 5-week blended training. The training itself is delivered in a blended format, with two weeks online and three weeks face-to-face followed by several months of one-on-one instructional design consultation. This training is time consuming and requires a lot of commitment from instructors and instructional designers to create exemplary blended courses.
With this shift in our understanding of faculty development programs, came the need to materialize the course design process in a reusable "Course Design Toolkit" that lists and expands on the steps needed to create blended / online courses.

This toolkit would empower instructors to take an autonomous role when designing their blended courses. Furthermore, graduates of previous blended training sessions could refer back to this toolkit when designing additional courses and to refresh their knowledge of course design as a whole. Finally, the "Course Design Toolkit" would allow us, the instructional designers at AUB, to consolidate our experience with course design and faculty development in one comprehensive package to guide educators and e-Learning specialists from other institutions.
Although the "Course Design Toolkit" loosely follows the ADDIE model, it was important to take into consideration a more agile model to design the best possible courses regardless of situational constraints.

Following is a more in-depth image of the "Course Design Toolkit". It is a comprehensive tool for expanding blended and online course creation and enhancing faculty development. Based on proven research and informed best practices and experiences, this toolkit offers guidance, examples, presentations, worksheets and other resources to help faculty members prepare their own blended/online courses and programs.

Chapter one, "Introduction and Current Course Delivery", starts with a presentation about general theory of course design and the different methods of course delivery. This chapter includes an infographic on the conditions of the online environment and the characteristics of its key players, a worksheet to reflect on the pedagogical design of blended and online courses through 10 course redesign questions, a worksheet to encourage a reflection on the instructor's current course delivery methods and an activity to reflect on the characteristics of the instructor in each of the different delivery methods mentioned in this chapter, allowing him/her to place him/herself in the environment that he/she is most comfortable teaching in.

Below is a snapshot of the rest of the chapters included in the toolkit:

Chapter 2: Learning Outcomes
PPT - Assessing your Learning Outcomes
Worksheet - Reviewing your Learning Outcomes
Worksheet - DEveloping Module Learning Outcomes
Chapter 3: Course Development
PPT - Online Communication
PPT - Online Assessment of Student Work
PPT- Rubrics
PPT - Designing Online Learning Activities
Worksheet - Structuring Online Activities
Worksheet - Reflecting on Grade Distribution
Worksheet - Backward Design Table
Chapter 4: Content Authoring
PPT - Rethinking the Course Content
Worksheet - Authoring a New Syllabus
Worksheet - Authoring a New Course Outline
Samples - Digital Repositories
Samples - Authoring Tools Tutorials
Chapter 5: Course Implementation
Checklist - Course Layout
Worksheet - Designing your LMS Page
Chapter 6: Preparing Students for Blended/Online Learning
PPT - Helping Students Succeed
Samples - Student Orientation
Activity - Orienting Students
Chapter 7: Course Evaluation and Student Feedback
PPT - Course Evaluation: Before, During and After
Checklist - Before Going Live
Samples - Course Design Rubric
Sampes - Mid-Semester Evaluation
Chapter 8: Blended/Online Programs
Worksheet - Planning a Blended/Online Program

Currently the toolkit is designed as a book, both a printed book and an e-book. We are currently working on digitizing it into an interactive online tool, accessible from any device by anyone who would like to be guided through the design and development process of blended/online courses. This interactive online tool will be piloted by a pool of faculty members at AUB to test its effectiveness in yielding quality blended/online courses. This pilot phase will allow us to expand on our current research with tangible data about the "Course Design Toolkit".
Our ultimate goal is to produce a final product that is high quality, easily updatable, interactive, self-contained and usable by faculty members and e-Learning professionals in Universities in the MENA region and beyond.

This presentation targets instructors who intend to design blended/online courses and e-Learning professionals who want to create effective faculty development programs. This presentation will offer best practices, examples, worksheets, checklists, activities, and other resources to help guide instructors on their journey to create quality blended/online courses.