Analysing Your Students' Needs
It's critical to the success of your online course for your students to see the value that the online site adds to their learning. For blended courses (courses where your students are attending face-to-face classes as well as completing an online component), think about how the online environment can best meet their needs. You might consider questions such as:
- Will all students have equal access to the online site? Consider issues such as reliable Internet access and Accessibility of the site for any of your students with disabilities.
What learning activities that are difficult to provide face to face could be undertaken online to help students achieve the course learning outcomes? For example, do they need:
- more practice at solving problems in a group?
- more opportunities for guided reflection on their learning?
- guidance in accessing selected online resources?
- to learn how to give and receive peer feedback on their work?
- to self-assess the academic honesty of their work using tools such as Turnitin?
- How much time will students have to participate in online learning activities? Consider the overall workload. Design the online learning activities into the overall course design, do not simply add them to a full workload.
- How will students understand the requirements of the course for both face-to-face and online activities? Ensure that you clarify to them how the various aspects of the course work together. See Course Schedule Planning.
In summary, consider whether your students will be able access the site, will derive value from the online course, will have the time to undertake the activities and will have a coherent learning experience.
Kevin Forde (Medicine) talks about designing a course that responds to students' needs.
Useful Tip: To make sure your students understand how the various components of the course fit together:
- Provide them with a course schedule or plan.
- At your first class meeting, explain the structure of the course and the rationale for all the learning activities. The rationale should relate to the course learning outcomes.