Basic Concepts to Keep in Mind While Creating a Course
  • More, shorter assignments, quizzes and tests.
  1. Assignments should not be so long that students loose their motivation to begin them.
  2. If a student finishes and assignment quickly they will be more likely to start another on right away.
  3. Students lose energy and motivation after working on something for 20 to 30 minutes, if they go get a drink of water will they start again?
  4. Shorter quizzes don't scare students away from starting them. If you want to find out how much a student knows, just create more short quizzes.
  5. Base quizzes on one short section of the resource materials.
  6. Let students know what parts are important so they know what will be on the quiz.
  7. Test questions should be based on quiz questions. Testing on new items can be frustrating for students.
  8. Allow two different ways for students to take quizzes and test. Paper or electronic.
  9. Grade the tests and quizzes as quicky as you can. Provide students a schedule for when their work will be graded.
  10. Send or Post grades as quicky as you can. If you can post all grades of all students with code numbers students will get a good idea how they compare with the others in the course.
  11. Use electronic grading whenever possible.
  • Organize assignments with a to-do list.
  1. A student should be able to look at their assignment and know exactly what you expect after 1 or 2 minutes of reading.
  2. The list should contain short sentences.
  3. Instructions should be single step if possible.
  4. Use check boxes ahead of each step so a student can track their progress.
  5. The first items in the list should only take the student 1 to 4 minutes to complete.
  6. Save the long steps like "Read pages 3-6" for late in the assignment
  7. Include tests and quizzes in the assignment check-lists.
  8. Include a step at the end to tell the students how to prepare for future tasks.
  9. Assignment should not contain more than 10 items
  10. Avoid interprative to-do items. eg. "Look for information on cells on the Internet."
  • Develop a pattern
  1. Your course should be developed around a series of patterns. This will make it easier for you and the students.
  2. Develop a pattern that you will use for each assingment.
  3. Develop a pattern for each chapter.
  4. Develop a pattern for each quarter.
  5. Develop a pattern for breaking the pattern. (??see 6??)
  6. Good pattern structure helps students complete assignments and begin the next. To keep variety in the course without turning off a student you may plan somthing different at the beginning of each chapter or unit (do this in a pattern).
  7. Prepare the students before you break the pattern.
  8. Return to the pattern as quickly as possible.
  • Give credit for as much student work as you can.
  1. If students are not accountable for everything asked in the assignment checklists they will start skipping things.
  2. This is ok if that if it is what you want as an instructor.
  3. Be careful students don't miss some key information because they are never tested on it.
  4. eg. If you never ask quiz questions about picture captions or key information in the margins of a text, students will start skipping that information.
  5. Be careful not to give busy work. Every checklist item should stear your students toward the objectives you outline in each lesson.
  • Limit assignments to 20-30 minutes
  1. Long study guides turn off correspondence students quicker than a date with Rossane Bar.
  2. Students quickly find a way to put something down that will take them longer than 30 minutes to complete.
  3. Assignments that quickly become over half done motivate students to hang in there and get to the end.
  4. Short assignments are much easier to start.
  5. Assignments should not be grouped more than two together before a quiz.
  6. One quiz per assignment is optimal.
  7. Assignment should follow the text order.
  8. It is possible to define an order for the course other than that of the text. Just remember this is one more thing to confuse students and you won't be there to straighten them out.
  9. Make sure students know the reason for each assignment.
  • Use pictures to describe concepts
  1. A picture is worth a thousand words and a million dollars to Divinchi.
  2. It is fine to describe a concept with a thousand words but don't expect half of your students to read it. Most prefer very short explanations with illustrations.
  3. Limit links to Internet sites. Links quickly become outdated.
  4. Get permissions and use diagrams locally.
  5. AGS has teacher resource discs for most of these purposes and there are several Internet sites that sell pictures very cheaply.
  6. Creating your own diagrams and pictures can be time consuming but so can writing that 1000 word description.
  7. Humorous pictures along the way should be included.
  8. Don't you agree!
  9. You can not have too many graphics!
  • Find resources with lower reading levels but higher interest level.
  1. There are several textbook companies that specialize in this area; use one that fits your district's and state's curriculum.
  2. In the classroom, a teacher can explain the text in a book. Not so in distance education.
  3. Students will be on their own most of the time and if they don't understand the book then, "Game Over!"
  4. Easier reading translates to quicker assignments and all of the above.
  5. Make sure the interest level of the book is geared toward the prospective students.
  6. Easier reading should not be associated with lower achieving students, keep high expectations.
  7. Thick heavy books decrease student motivation, especially when they are on their own.
  • Provide student with personal contact right when they enroll.
  1. Day one, make a phone call!
  2. Students taking courses via distance ed need to know you are their to support them. Make the call!
  3. Outgoing calls are cheaper than collect or 1-800. Make the call!
  4. Students need motivation to get started and are looking for a reason. Make the call!
  5. Students are more likely to guess, get a wrong concept, or give up entirely when they are having trouble with something. You call them if they seem stalled. Make the call!
  6. When student know the instructor they are more likely to take your other classes. Make the call.
  7. Did I miss anything here? Oh yeah! MAKE THE CALL!
  • Give the students the ablity to check their grade at any time.
  1. List grades with an identification number on the Internet.
  2. Students work harder when they feel they can change their grade.
  3. Students want to know how they are doing compared to other students.
  4. Create two or three fictious students with horrible grades that way no real students are at the bottom.
  5. Give students feedback right away on their first few assignments.
  6. Post grades on a schedule so students know when to expect the new posting.
  • Enable Student to start right away.
  1. While students are waiting for classes to arrive they often begin other things.
  2. The begining of somthing new is always exciting, use that excitement.
  3. Excited students often complete many assignments in the first week and get into the class quickly.
  4. If the course takes over a week to get to the student some of the excitment may have worn off.
  5. Try to give the students all the resourses they need for the first couple assignments within one or two days.
  • Divide course into small peices.
  1. Like assignments, the entire course should be broken down into small peices.
  2. A student looking at all the assignments to the course on two or three pages may chuck it out the window.
  3. Divide the course into quarters.
  4. Divide the quarters into 4-8 sections.
  5. Divide each section into assignments.
  6. Divide each assignment into 5-10 steps.
  • Provide the entire course with options on completion.
  1. If your course is designed to be a full year supply all the things the student will need for the entire course.
  2. Students finishing the first semester should not have to wait until February for materials for the second semester.
  3. All student packest for the entire course are identical whether they want the first semester, second semester or parts and peices of the course.
  4. If you course is broken into quarters students, teachers, and parents can decide what quarters they want their student to take if they only need a semester.
  5. Students can scan the whole course to be prepared for what is coming. No surprises!
  • Work toward Alaska Standards, YKSD curriculum while following textbook order.
  1. Chose a textbook that follows the standards of your state and district.
  2. Students do better following the order of the textbook than jumping around to meet particular standards.
  3. If you don't use a textbook because you want students to follow your own road be prepared for nomatic meandering students. You must create a great map following your standards be prepared to spend a lot of time on this project.
  4. Students will tend to use the textbook as a guide rather than a resource manual.
  • Creating a Schedule
  1. Students will be enrolling at different times and on different semesters and/or quarters so you will not be able to create a calendar schedule.
  2. Students should create their own goals for completion.
  3. Students will be given a maximum of one year from registration date to completions of a full years course.
  4. Create a syllabus that outlines your expectations for completion.
  • Each assignment page should contain contact information.
  1. If a student has a question they should not have to dig for you number.
  2. Students are more likely to guess, get a wrong concept, or give up entirely when they are having trouble than dig for an e-mail address or a phone number.
  3. Make sure and include contact information that is correct. They won't try twice!