Creating Online Lessons

It is just so much more complicated than I thought it would be! Learning to use an LMS is just another learning curve for me. I managed to figure that out. But figuring out how to do a brain dump, in a combination of text, images, videos, audios, site links, and software downloads, is downright hard. How to organize it all so that people can move through the courses in a logical manner, get their questions answered, and look up reference material?

Online courses can happen in a variety of ways. They can be anything from simple “pay to access” online content, to content plus quizzes, to emails loaded into an auto-responder, to a full fledged Learning Management System with prerequisites, forums, quizzes and certifications. We went with the last option, because we want certifications to be part of the picture. But it is important to realize that you may not NEED a full scale LMS to do online lessons or protected content. Often a much simpler structure will be enough.

I’m finally well into the process of creating short courses. I have several long multi-segment courses to upload eventually, but decided to start with the short ones that have only 8-10 lessons. I am not sure how capable I’ll be of tackling the big ones, but figure the experience from the small ones will be a help.

An LMS allows you to group things together in a fairly granular way. I have the following options:

  • Categories. I can group Courses together into categories.
  • Courses. A course can contain multiple lessons. A course contains lessons on a single topic, or single group of related topics, usually.
  • Lessons. A lesson should be a fairly well defined learning concept. It can be further broken down if needed, but is often the lowest element in the tree.
  • Units. A lesson can have multiple units, if you need to assign additional study on a concept.
  • Examples. I can put in examples for any given lesson.
  • Assignments. I can create assignments to complete for any lesson.
  • Videos or Documents. These can be attached to a lesson.
  • Quizzes. Each lesson can have a completion quiz.
  • Tests. Courses can have final tests.

A course can have a forum attached as well. So the learning options are fairly flexible. But it also means that setting it up is a VERY involved process.

Oh, anyone can go in and create a lesson and paste some instructions into the page. But to create a real online course, that someone can actually learn from, and then demonstrate that they have learned, is much more difficult! All the pieces have to be found, created, and set to work the way you want them to.

I think it will be worth it though, because it doesn’t just teach people. It does so in a way that frees the teacher to reach more people at one time.

Hard. But worth the learning curve and time.

One Response to Creating Online Lessons

  • Kerry says:

    Yes – After 5 years of curriculum development and delivery for 6 high school English courses and three high school Social Studies courses, I can most definitely attest to the fact that there is a significant difference between:

    a) creating a lesson and pasting some instructions into the page; and
    b) creating a real online course that someone can actually learn from – and then demonstrate that learning at a high level of competency.

    The way all of the pieces of an online course have to fit together is a big part of a learner’s ultimate success. Every bit has to flow logically back and forth from the next. This is very hard to accomplish and takes an analytical mind (and a willingness to make modifications based on student feedback).

    Another factor upon which student success hinges is whether the material is INTERESTING and MOTIVATING (boring = a death knell in online education, just like in a regular classroom).

    A third consideration in determining learner success is that as the instructor, you know WHAT you are actually assessing, and HOW you and learners will know that they have met the outcomes (and at what level of competency).

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