How to develop units for online courses

Since my students’ online units are due today, I figured I would make this post. If you want to make your online course successful a best practice is to include the following things in each unit. I say this because many times I see an online course and things are not spelled out for the learner. I get into a lesson and I do not see objectives or their are not directions for me and I kind of have to assume that I just click through the materials. This usually works fine for me as I have a lot of online course experience but for new learners, this is just setting up a disaster. So I have compiled the following list.

Just to clarify, when I say unit in online learning, I generally refer to one section/topic/week/lesson in a course that is online and 80%+ asychronous. In higher ed we break this into weeks however each environment might be different. Here is a list of things that should be included in an online unit, however remember that each case/course is different and may require more/less depending on the needs to the client and students.

Things that should be included in an online unit:

* Lesson Title
* Concept / Topic To Teach
* Standards Addressed if appropriate (usually for K-12 only)
* General Goal(s)
* Course Objectives
* Required Materials – the students need anything to complete this? Maybe they need headphones to listen to a video
* Step-By-Step Procedures – This is where you give them very detailed step by step directions. Course content can be in this section.
* Course content (instructional strategies)
* Closure (wrap up the unit)
* Assessment Based On Objectives (assignment, test, quiz, etc.)
* Adaptations (For Students With Learning Disabilities) – usually only applied to K-12
* Extensions (For Gifted Students) if appropriate or for students who want to learn more about the topic – this should always be included for all learners – K-12, higher ed, corporate, government
* Possible Connections To Other Subjects
* Appendix – materials, such as PPT, Videos, Podcasts, etc.
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