Online Course/Professional Development Design

Tuesday, May 7, 2013
One of my past times I guess you could say since I began my career in Education was designing and participating in online courses/professional development. In college I took a few classes and I really enjoyed them, but it wasn't until I was working on my Master's degree did I find the true appreciation for them and those who create them. Designing an online course/professional development takes a lot of work if you want to do it the right way. My philosophy is, "If you don't have time to do it right, then why do it at all." You want to take the time to do it right the first time and give it 100 percent.

Make it meaningful, fun, and relevant!!

When building an online course or professional development you need to plan with the end in mind. Having a brainstorming session is key and make sure to write write write. It is important when designing a course/pd that you have active, observable and measurable outcomes. The last thing someone wants to do is to take an online course or professional development where the tasks lack creativity and they just become busy work with no real role for the person taking the course/pd.

You also want to make use of the tools available to you. Just inputting links and typing words is not going to get someone excited about taking the course/pd. It is important to use a variety of presenting avenues. That is why Web 2.0 should be your best friend!! So many of the different Web 2.0 tools can be embedded into Moodle and Blackboard for a fun and enlightening experience. Alongside your Web 2.0 tools make sure to have pictures, graphs, videos, color, and FUN!

Do not get lengthy on your information in which it leaves the reader wondering what they even read in the first place. I don't know about you, but I have taken some online courses/pd that were very boring in which all I did was read and type. There was no higher level thinking there. Make it fun and to the point!

Go Blooms or go home!!

Now fun is my middle name so as an online course/pd creator/instructor you have to make your personality come out in what you create. An online environment is mostly asynchronous with some opportunity for synchronous instruction. Again it is all in the way you create the course/pd. Make sure you clarify your expectations and what it means to be an active participant. In a not harsh way you need to let the participants know that you expect:

  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Creativity
  • Innovation
  • Critical Thinking
  • Problem Solving 

                         ....just to name a few. The point is that your participants need to know that it will be work, but what is discussed and created will benefit them in their every day life and job.

If you build it (RIGHT) they will come!

You also want to make sure that in every course you create that Digital Citizenship is covered including Copyright Laws. Copyright is very important as many people do not know what it all entails. Each day I learn something new!!

The resources you provide need to be easily available to your participants. If possible try to stay away from paid resources because we all don't have the money to purchase a piece of software or a membership to a site. I know sometimes you have to, but I try to avoid that. With Google Documents...those who do not have the Microsoft products can still actively participate. Adobe PDF Reader is that is a must to use.


As an online creator/instructor you do not have that face to face time as you would in a classroom. It is important that you are available to your participants when they have questions or need suggestions. Join in the conversations..they will see that you care. You do not want your participants to feel isolated or disconnected from the group. If you see someone who is slacking, find out why and how you can help them make the experience GREAT for them. That is why collaboration and communication are key to a successful online course/pd.

I hope you enjoyed my blog post on Online Course/PD design. I love it and I hope you do to! Make sure to thank a teacher!!

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