Avoiding Pitfall #1: Upload your course materials, then call it a day

I agree with the author of Five Common Pitfalls of Online Course Design that it can be a big–and perhaps all-to-common–mistake to simply transfer all the course materials to an online format and assume this will suffice. When I co-developed a hybrid version of CH 231 (General Chemistry), we were adamant that we would record short topical videos and avoid simply setting up a video camera to record a regular one-hour lecture to upload. This would have just resulted in the same (or perhaps slightly worse) experience for students. Instead it was important to realize what has been emphasized in the aforementioned article: That the typical, traditional course fare is best not transferred directly to an online format without some serious adaptations.

I hope to avoid this pitfall with the course I am currently developing, CH 607 Chemical Safety Seminar, and am considering this with respect to the quizzes in particular. With the previous traditional course format, I was limited to what I could print on paper, and I want to avoid simply creating an online analog of those paper quizzes. One intriguing option would be to include a short video clip of a chemical safety issue and ask students to watch it and identify what the laboratory worker is doing wrong. Photographs could add a lot of dimension to the quizzes as well and could communicate the message in a way text cannot. We have photos available from previous safety inspections of our laboratories, and including these could make the issues much more relatable than when discussing them in general terms.

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