Publishing online course content to Canvas has almost become a necessity for us as teachers. We need to make our content accessible to learners and cut down in printing costs. But how effectively do we design our courses? Are they readily accessible to our students?

In the following blog post, “Seven Deadly Sins of Online Course Design,” DePaul University instructional designer Adam Sanford outlines some of the biggest mistakes that teachers make when designing content online. He then recommends how these pitfalls can be avoided.

I know that I have sometimes made the mistake of what he calls digital hoarding, where I overshare by providing a number of assignment related materials with too little context. This was a good reminder that more is not necessarily better when it comes to providing students with resources. And by providing a short description of a resource (perhaps in parenthesis) students will be able find the resources they need to complete a task more efficiently, which is much better than dumping a big heap of uncurated links and files on a page in Canvas.

In my experience, digital hoarding comes about because students are not meeting the expectations for a specific task or assignment. For instance, in one class I found that, as students were struggling with their reading response assignments, I continually uploaded more materials online in an attempt to help them. The problem wasn’t a lack of materials, though. Rather, it was that the assignment and grading criteria needed to be completely revised to provide more clarity. I simply needed a few quality materials, not a large quantity of them.

Which of Sanford’s 7 sins of course design seem especially salient for you? Where do you think you can make improvements in course design?

Related Links:

The NY Times article, “Chinese, Studying in America, and Struggling,” was shared by INTO OSU’s┬áChinese Language & Culture Advisor, Alice Wang. Below you’ll find her comments about the article. As much of our student population is from China, this cultural perspective is vitally important for teachers to consider. Here are Alice’s comments:

While some international students are struggling at American universities, instructors are being challenged to teach and help them. To achieve success, students must do their part, and equally important, instructors and professors need to understand the difficulties their students face in order to adjust their teaching to encourage and offer support to international students.

 

As Oregon State University pushes towards more hybrid and online courses, it becomes important for us as teachers to find ways to become familiar with and to implement the technological tools that our students will be using in their future classrooms. This requires us to carefully consider the differences between the online environment and the face-to-face one as well as principles of effective teaching required in the online environment. The following article from the Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology (2008) highlights some of these differences and outlines 9 principles for excellent in web-based teaching.

An absolutely riveting online course: Nine principles for excellence in web-based teaching

What are some of your experiences with online course instruction and course development? What principles mentioned in the article seem especially salient to your experiences and understanding of web-based teaching? Feel free to add your comments below.