How to assess and improve your online course

An assessment framework will give important information to teachers on how to upgrade their online courses. It should be simple and easy to apply and at the same time provide feedback to three major areas related to the online course: content, experience, and technology.

As an online instructor you have probably always wanted to receive feedback from your students regarding your course – does it work, what should be edited, and is it effective? In order to assess your course, you have to take a holistic approach.

With this article we would like to provoke your mind and to increase your creativity. We will ask you to think about different and important questions related to your online course.

Let’s talk about several key subjects.

Content

Does your course need an upgrade? What has changed in your scientific field from the last time you created its content? How about the images, videos, copyrighted materials, and research that you have used? How about the papers, quizzes, presentations, and documents that your students have created? What do you intend to do with them? Do you have the right to use this huge amount of new information? Have you thought to use it in some way in order to improve the experience of your future students?

As a teacher you already know that your students have different reasons for deciding to sign up for your course. Have you thought about adapting it for the three basic types of learners: those who want to just become acquainted with the new material, those who want to be experts and to develop their analytical and practical skills, and those who want to become real masters and want to deepen their knowledge on the subject.

Experience

Ask your students how they feel during your online course. Do they understand the curriculum, do they need more explanations on certain learning objectives, and is the material presented in a comprehensive way? Be curious about their interactions with the LMS. Do they find your course to be user-friendly? Did your students have any technical issues during the educational process and what would they like to be changed?

Learning is not only about knowledge; it involves the entire process of motivation, curiosity, an ability to understand and analyze, a willingness to continue, collaboration with teacher and peers, overcoming challenges, and being satisfied by the achieved results. All of these actions are related to the experience of your students with your course. In order to improve your course you should be aware of how your students interact with the learning material in your online course.

Technology

As a teacher you are always trying to find a balance in using different educational resources: videos, presentations, papers, interviews, chats on a white board, lectures, etc. All you need to know is what works the best for your students. Do they prefer 2- or 5-minute videos? Could something that was presented in an infographic be taught in a different way? What do modern students prefer – papers or team projects?

Technology is just a tool for you to help you transfer knowledge in a better way. Remember to stay on top of the latest technological opportunities and to use them when appropriate. We know that you are busy, but new apps and programs can really save you time.

One of the best ways to evaluate the quality and efficiency of your online course is to create your own assessment framework. It should be simple and its objective is to give ideas and information on where and how you can improve your course. Ask some of your students to fill it out or ask another professional to give you feedback. Make sure to give clear instructions to the people who will be assessing the quality of your online course.

In addition, your assessment framework could encompass several important objectives of your online course: course introduction and overview, achieved competencies, assessment, resources and materials, learner interaction, accessibility, and technology.

Once you gather the answers you can start thinking about the redesign of your online course.

Its redesign will allow you to address a wide range of past challenges. The objective of this task is to make your course more competitive, memorable, and effective.

As the course redesign requires some cost, you can think over what changes you might make using your existing resources. Changes do not have to be made all at once. They may occur in a piecemeal way.

The use of information technology in teaching and learning allows for increasing the array of learning possibilities presented to each individual student so as to respond to their personal needs.

The effective update of your online course will increase the motivation levels of your students. Offer them choices so that they can spend time on the subjects in which they lack knowledge or focus their attention on the areas where they would like to become masters.

As Richard Feynman once said: “Study hard what interests you the most in the most undisciplined, irreverent and original manner possible.”

Your online course will give many answers to your students but the most important thing is to inspire and nourish their curiosity.

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Zdrava Stoeva has over 10 years experience in corporate and non-government sector. She has Master Degrees in International Relations and European Law. With strong interest in education and human rights, she is happy to contribute to projects which hit her values and beliefs.
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