A recent survey from the WICHE Cooperative for Education Technologies found that more than 80 percent of institutions design their own content for more than three-quarters of their online courses.

With a third of American students taking at least one online course, the demand for institutions to create that content is high. But there’s more to making an online course than just replicating an in-class lecture.

design-online-courseJeff Bergin, vice president of Digital Design for Pearson, offers the following four keys that learning designers believe lead to effective online learning.

“I don’t think most people think about all of these categories,” he says. “You can have great experiences by just thinking about some, but I think you have a much stronger experience if you keep all of these in mind.”

1. Education Policy

Quality learning design must meet policies held by the federal and state government, as well as accrediting bodies and institutions, Bergin says.

“What I mean is that when someone is designing any kind of learning activity, that activity is going to happen within the context of some kind of policy,” he says. “And I use the phrase ‘education policy’ in the broadest possible sense. These are polices that affect learning such as accessibility or credit hour, even just institutional policies. It’s important to do your research so you’re adhering to these guidelines.”

2. Academic Research

The research doesn’t stop at the policy level, Bergin says. Strong learning design is based on academic research on instructional design, motivation, and multimedia learning to ensure that courses are engaging, intuitive, and meet student expectations.


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