Monday, August 26, 2013

Teaching Online (Part IV) - Navigation

     Online Course Navigation should not require a compass, involve a secret handshake combo, or require a Ph.D in "Think like You Doology".  Keep it simple, follow a pattern, be creative, but do not get too fancy.  Innovation is great (and too be encouraged), but do not out think yourself or your students when it comes to your course. If students have to register for a state hunting license just to find the latest assignment or discussion then frustration will outweigh any learning taking place...even worse it may prevent learning.

     Have you ever thought about how a fruit basket is put together?
The Bananas & Grapes are always on top. Why? because they would smoosh of course! There is no law or requirement, it just makes good sense. In the same way, make sure your course layout makes sense and is easily navigable to the most novice online student.

     Best Practices dictates that each institution have a few common layouts/templates for teachers/professors to choose from. Do not go so far as to say one and one only. There needs to be some flexibility based on subject/instructor.  For instance, some courses may be better suited for Unit separation, others may be suited or the instructor more comfortable with a weekly format. There are parts of the menu however that should be standard and in the same spot no matter the course or instructor. Doing this as an institution will make navigation easier for the students instead of every course being a new adventure.

     To reiterate, creativity is good (especially in delivering content) but structure should make sense and be consistent. Do not make students climb down rabbit holes (Note: Last weekend to see Rabbit Hole @ the Lipscomb Theater) to find the resources they need. The main point is to be consistent as a school/university and come to an agreement with a few basic types of layouts instructors have to choose from. Here are a few simple, but good examples.

Next blog post will discuss the importance of a detailed syllabus.