Turning a college course into an online course requires more than video-recording the lecture

online-course-uniqueCreating a college course may not be easy but at least it’s understood; people have been doing it since Socrates lectured in ancient Greece.

Creating an online college course is another matter. There’s no Socratic judgement on the relative benefits of asynchronous videos, real-time discussion boards or e-books in the cloud. Those judgements are being created right now, by experience.

“We’re trying not to just do old things with new technology,” said Fran Keefe, who as instructional designer for Rivier University works with professors and adjuncts to move existing “face-to-face” courses online, or create new courses entirely online. “I encourage faculty members not to lecture just because that’s what they’ve always done, then videotape it, put it online and make students watch it–but to consider new ways of presenting material.”

“Often times they have grown up in the concept that they stand in front of the room and lecture. You’ve heard the phrase ‘sage on a stage.’ We help them become facilitators,” she said.

Rivier has dozens of online courses and a number of online-only degrees, mostly masters degrees designed for working professionals. Keefe says virtually any topic can benefit from an online component — “I even taught Braille online.”

But even Rivier undergraduate and graduate classes that are taught in classrooms usually have aspects of course work online, a hybrid format that is becoming the norm in all schools.

So how exactly does a class move from ivory-covered walls to smartphones or desktop computers?

(Next page: Detailed how-to’s and best practices)

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