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Online Learning

Online Course Model - Introduction to Social Services - SOC301.A01

Designed and instructed by Ms. Cheri Johnson, Faculty Fellow for Online Learning

These steps will provide you with the opportunity to view a model online course developed here at CWU by Cheri Johnson, MSW, teaching in the Sociology Department. Ms. Johnson has been working in social services nearly 30 years, primarily in the area of mental health, with a focus on adolescents and young adults affected by mental illness. While browsing her exemplary online course we recommend that you initially, read the announcement titled, "First Day of Class" as an introduction to previewing the materials. Secondly, read the syllabus as a guide to the clear and coherent learning instructions, associated activities and assessments in the course.

What is good about this course? This fully online course, Introduction to Social Services, models best practices in learning, course design, interaction and collaboration, assessment and evaluation, meaningful technology use, and learner support. In the process of exploring the course consider the following guidelines and the valuable ways in which Ms. Johnson has met them: Guidelines for Online Course Development. These guidelines are referenced in the discussion of the course features and components below under the headings,


To access Cheri Johnson's course on Blackboard as a student use the password below. Note that if you would like instructor access please request it by emailing and you will be enrolled with the role of instructor. If you do choose to access the course with the role of instructor please do NOT change any content in order to maintain the integrity of the demo course for other faculty.

Go to CWU Blackboard, click "Login" and enter the following username/password to view the course as a student:

user name = exemplary_student (not case sensitive)
password = learn (case sensitive, use lower case)

Blackboard Login Example


On the Blackboard My Institution tab click the link to the course. Follow the instructions you see in the sequence presented.

my courses box

While viewing this course keep in mind the following features and characteristics that contribute to a valuable learning experience for students.

Design of an Online Course

After logging in with the student login, "exemplary_student" and password "learn", at the Blackboard My Institution tab click the link to the course, Introduction to Social Services. Now you are ready for a tour of what makes this course interesting, well designed and assessable.

By initially reading the syllabus you can see that the course is based upon clearly stated learning instructions that are assessable, relevant to the course content and supported by stimulating activities and assignments. After reading the syllabus students immediately know what will be expected of them and how they will be graded. Students with a variety of learning styles will enjoy opportunities to access the required course content through, text, audio and video. In addition the sequence of the course schedule of activities and assignments is clearly and carefully laid out.

The information about the course, including course requirements, course activities, assignments, grading and evaluation, dates, policies and instructor and support information is easily located and of more than sufficient breadth. Ms. Johnson provides extensive learning guidance and emphasizes adequate time be spent on course activities and projects by providing students with a detailed, easy to read course schedule, an introductory video, a project details video as well as sequenced text based instructions on how to be successful in completing the course requirements.

The design of the course is notable for maintaining a consistency, thereby establishing ease of navigation. It allows for a clear progression through course requirements as outlined in the syllabus. The Weekly Learning Modules provide many interesting and essential materials and learning activities that promote interaction between students and the course content, the students and the instructor as well as among the students. The instructor in this course employs extensive use of student interaction by using the Discussion Board. Grading rubrics describe specific criteria for proper execution of the discussions, papers and projects to be completed by students. Course activities foster critical thinking, require students to take responsibility for their own knowledge acquisition, and utilize technologies that take advantage of a variety of learning styles. Expectations for technology use in the course are made clear with extensive student support and direction.

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Evaluation and Assessment

The effectiveness of a course design needs to be evaluated to determine if students are able to meet the learning outcomes established. Ms. Johnson evaluates student performance by providing five assessment opportunities that build on a progression of increasingly higher levels of cognition.

  • Analyze - cognitive level expected to be demonstrated in completion of discussion board posts, and weekly module quizzes.
  • Evaluate - To be demonstrated by having students choose an agency and social services professional to interview and job shadow. The selection by the student of the agency requires the student to evaluate what type of agency will provide her/him authentic context in which to take responsibility for his/her own learning.
  • Create - expected to be demonstrated by creation of a report on the interview job shadow project.

A variety of evaluation and assessment tools are utilized including, discussion forums, quizzes, and the interview and job shadow project. Each of these takes into account different learning styles and shows a clear relationship between student performance and grades in the course.

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Teaching and Learning

Ms. Johnson employs a variety of important teaching techniques to build an online community and foster learner engagement. Her use of technology is aligned with the goals for the course and is appropriately chosen to convey meaning and deliver content. Of additional value is that students are provided necessary scaffolding to utilize technology to engage with the content, with fellow students, as well as with the instructor. Here are some of the valuable things that she does in her online course with regard to teaching and learning:

  • Students are asked to introduce themselves in the class. This creates a supportive learning environment and establishes a sense of community. Tools used: Discussion Board
  • Technical skills required to succeed in the course are specified. Instructions clearly provided and requirements stated plainly and clearly in syllabus.
  • Course projects and assignments require active learning on the part of students and utilize authentic real world learning opportunities and environments. Requires interactive discussion, critical/analytical thinking and writing.
  • Students are required engage with the community to learn about a prospective career in the field of social work.
  • Learning activities are varied to provide reinforcement and mastery of concepts and skills.
  • Activities accommodate multiple learning styles. Projects and assignments require writing, reading, listening, visual interpretation, and transfer of knowledge and concepts to real world career paths.


  1. Sign up for Blackboard workshops available as face-to-face or Collaborate sessions at CWU.
  2. Make appointments for consultations with the CWU Instructional Design Team: Contact: Chris Schedler -
  3. Join the Online Learning Community at CWU by contacting Chris Schedler, Faculty Fellow for Online Learning -

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