Because I’m currently starting fresh with working with another faculty member/Subject Matter Expert (SME), I’ve decided to document some of the processes I follow when working with a SME who has never taught online before and has been given a new course to develop online.
For multiple reasons, with this particular course I am following an objectivist approach in terms of development accurately described in Sue-Jen Chen’s article on instructional design strategies (2007), which is as follows:
- articulate the goals and objectives of instruction,
- classify goals by the domains and types of learning outcomes,
- logically sequence instructional activities,
- and assess expected learning outcomes (or goals) to determine the effectiveness of instruction.
Although this is not the only way I develop courses, it is one of the common processes, and therefore the topic of my post today. One of the first things I do during my initial meeting with the SME is discuss the instructors’ experience with teaching both online and face-to-face. If they only have face-to-face experience (which is more often than not), I ask them about the goals of the course and some assignments they’ve used in the course in the past. I like to make notes on how some of those assignments can translate online as well as jot down some new ideas for assignments they’ve done but want to do better.
I also show them a few examples of online courses I’ve developed in the past to give them an idea of how they can structure their course.
Then we look at putting together a general map of the course, thinking through what the learning outcomes may be based on the current course goals. Many times instructors/SME’s choose to develop their course modules based on how they want to order the chapters in the textbook. This makes it easier to develop learning objectives for each module since the textbook usually comes with chapter objectives we can use to develop learning outcomes and select appropriate assessments, activities, and media. If the SME/faculty is stuck for ideas as to how to assess students in a particular module, we also pull out the textbook to check for supplementary materials that we can use or at least model after.
This usually takes the entire first–and sometimes the second–meeting. From there, we meet again to begin adding the modules to the course. Even without rubrics and assessment instructions, we still create an agenda for each module and can this and placeholder assignments/assessments to the course. Once that is done, we meet again to look at what the course looks like at this point. Though we start with the template we normally use in our department, this may change slightly according to the instructor and/or the program for which the course is being developed.
Next, we meet again to determine the weeks for the modules and develop a somewhat finalized course schedule. Now our focus moves to determining course media to find and/or develop. We discuss both important and difficult concepts and theories involved in achieving the stated learning outcomes to narrow down what media is necessary, and also to help develop the assignment details and rubrics.
As the instructional designer, there are times the bulk of my assistance dwindles here. This gives the SME/faculty time to develop the assignment instructions, rubrics, and media. As they finish these items, they send them to me to add to the course. I add them to the course, maintaining the format, structure, consistency, and navigation. I always advise instructors/SME’s of best practices as they send things to me, and usually they elect to make the suggested changes. For example, I might advise revising discussion questions or ask for more detail on the assessments to determine which online tool would best match the students’ final product. If they don’t understand how to make the changes, I send them examples or make the suggested changes and send the work back to them for approval or further discussion. These sometimes turn into additional face-to-face meetings.
Other details we work together on include the syllabus, point distribution, facilitation schedule, and the grade book among other things.
Keep in mind that the above process is not a one-size-fits-all, or even most. I would say that this is a common development process that falls right in the middle of a line graph, and the actual process with each faculty member falls somewhere left or right, most clustered on or close to that center. It is a working process I like to keep in mind and adjust as necessary.