Technical and Environment Planning
There are several areas of pre-planning that should be address for truly getting started with the conversion. The first critical area to focus on is determining how you want to accomplish your blended learning plan.
The learner’s role changes slightly in a distance learning environment and these changes should be reviewed. As mentioned before, learners and instructors are physically separated so the student must have access to the course content at anytime, and the course outline, objectives and instructions should be clearly explained. A support system should be established for the learners so they can contact someone for technical or content support. In an online environment, learners are more responsible for their learning. They must be motivated to continue to study and learn on their own. Some ways to ensure that the learner stays motivated is to establish learner-to-learner and learner-to-instructor communication mediums, such as threaded discussions, where they can post comments and ask questions. Additionally, thought design to the application and assignments to ensure that they are challenging and interactive can go a long way.
The instructor’s role changes the most in this conversion. You will no longer be delivering the course content, but rather becoming more of a guide or facilitator. Your job will be to redirect, clarify, correct and guide (Simonson, et al. 2012). Feedback and communication becomes extremely beneficial and should be done in a timely manner to keep the course on pace. Insure that you have provided guidelines on how you can be contacted and establish an open line of communication for student support.
Once the course is built, it is necessary to have an initial click through or alpha test with some of your colleagues or students. You will not be able to make a perfect conversion the first time through; thus feedback is essential at this phase. Find out what the strong points and the poor points are and expand and improve on those. Learning objectives and outcomes should be effectively evaluated as well, to determine if the scope, sequence and activities conveyed them appropriately. Adopt the strategy of improvement and include feedback opportunities for your students during each course to have input available.
Checklist for Converting to Distance Learning Format This guide has highlighted the most notable aspects of pre-planning and included valuable tips and considerations. Included is a checklist that will help you plan and succeed with your course conversion. Please see the attached PDF for a copy of this information and the aforementioned checklist.
PDF for Download
Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: foundations of distance education (5th Ed.). Boston , MA: Pearson.
Piskurich, G., & Chauser, J. (n.d.). Planning and designing online courses. (Video Program). Laureate Education, Inc.