Conquering the Content: A Step-by-Step Guide to Online Course Design. Smith, Robin M. John, Wiley & Sons, Inc. (2008).
Reviewed by David R. Rawlinson, J.D.
Multi-modal Online Faculty Fellow, Central Washington University
This book provides practical suggestions and tools for both new course design and/or existing course modification. I like the author’s modular approach to the topic, especially the discussion of assumptions regarding face-to-face and online course delivery and assessment. Overall, this text provides an effective “blueprint” to help content experts create effective constructs for the delivery and assessment of knowledge via online courses.
For those that want to produce an online course for the first time, the most important information is contained in the first chapter. The author, Robin M. Smith, goes to great lengths to stress the importance of designing online courses from the students’ (learner) perspective rather than the teacher’s (teaching) perspective. Describing the online classroom as an “Altered Learning Environment”, the author posits the need to create a “…clear pathway of learning for the students.”
The learner-centered environment of an online course has a number of facets:
In chapter one, the author continues to discuss differences in how content is presented in a face-to-face (F2F) course versus online courses, using concepts and terms such as “Chunk-ability”, “Repeat-ability”, “Pause-ability”, and “Understand-ability.” Finally, Robin M. Smith covers the faculty member’s role, distinguishing between development and design activities, and facilitation and teaching activities in courses.
The remaining chapters provide guidance on course creation to facilitate updates, assessment design, course organization from a student perspective, student study-skill effectiveness improvement, best practices, and navigation issues for online courses.
Recommendations for the first time online educator:
Read the first chapter dealing with differences and similarities between online and F2F courses.
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