Monday, August 1, 2011

Online course exemplars

Architects have it easy. They can just look at outstanding buildings or cities to get ideas of how to design new ones. Also, architects frequently expound in conferences and publications the rationales of their designs.
It is not so easy for online course designers, because we lack a catalog of outstanding open course designs in several areas; and even if we can find one such course, the "why's" of the decisions taken by the designers are not usually included as part of the course.  (...)

True, there are plenty of publications on miriad aspects of online learning, but whenever part of the publication mentions a particular course, the course itself is usually not accessible, and the paper only highlights whatever the author thinks is a knowledge contribution to the online learning literature. And of course there are dozens of catalogs of OERs - Open Educational Resources such as [Merlot], [Temoa] and many others, but it is difficult to distinguish in them the truly innovative courses from the rest, and again the course design rationale is often missing.

Thus, in a series of blog posts, I would like to describe some of the most innovative courses I have designed, together with the design rationale for each aspect of the course. The courses' web sites, materials and activities are all under a creative commons license; but the courses can only be taken by registered students of the university where I work. All of them use wikis or wiki equivalents extensively.

Enjoy, and meanwhile please add in the comments whatever examples you know of online courses where most of the following points are considered: 1) the whole course is accessible to view 2) The design rationale is clearly described 3) The course is both innovative and effective 4) The main ideas are amenable to be replicated and improved upon in different courses. 5) What worked, what didn’t and how the course has evolved is also described.  I'll be happy to report later on them.