Heather Russino By Heather Russino • March 20, 2020

How an Online Course is Created

Pedagogy is always at the heart of how we design online courses at Thomas Edison State University. We embrace an open and collaborative course design process that enables multiple experts to meaningfully collaborate around learning outcomes, course objectives, and course content to develop the most interactive, engaging, and effective courses possible. Based on online learning standards, industry research and best practices, we champion an outcomes-first approach to course design and utilize technology to engage students wherever they are in the learning process. A well-designed course must have a way to measure success – and that measure involves ensuring our courses help prepare students to achieve stated learning outcomes.

Our Course Design Process:

  • Adheres to the standards of Quality Matters (QM);
  • Meets or exceeds the federal and New Jersey standards of credit hour definition, including the standards of our regional accrediting body;
  • Reflects the Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate (ADDIE) Framework; and
  • Captures adult learning theory in both course design and delivery

Throughout our course design process, we serve students best through an outcomes-driven curriculum design offering reliable assessments and creating an engaging learning environment, including the innovative use of current and emerging technology.

Outcomes-driven Curriculum Design

The “outcomes-first” approach of our course design begins with a strong foundation (outcome mapping and curriculum development) and relies heavily on the concerted effort and direct application of quality instructional design. In addition to aligning course content, activities, and assessments with course-level objectives and module objectives, the course design team ensures these course assignments also align with high-level program and institutional outcomes. We build courses with a transparent structure that allows students to understand how each assignment contributes to their learning.

Reliable Assessment

Our overall assessment strategy is to develop valid, fair, and reliable course-specific assessments based on external industry standards for testing and assessment. The Subject Matter Expert (SME) brings his or her own content expertise to the course development project and the Assessment Developer (AD) provides expertise in evidence-centered design, item development, test assembly for blueprints, statistical analysis, and implementation experience.

Creation of Engaging Learning Environments

Adult learners in distance learning experience greater levels of success when their specific needs are accounted for in course design, including the use of technology and media. Therefore, we seek to integrate newly available and properly vetted technology focused on addressing the needs of our students. Our Learning Management System (LMS) leverages real-time collaboration technologies such as EdisonLive! and Google apps, along with asynchronous elements such as discussion forums. We also have technology available for students to create presentations, podcasts, and video posts using Kaltura. We encourage the use and integration of suitable technology in the design process that focuses on embracing a relevant UX (user experience) fostering quality design and accessibility.

At TESU, We Design Courses That are:

  • Rigorous – course design is driven by outcomes and focused on assessment; all content is aligned with learning outcomes and the level of the course; coursework is appropriate for the assigned number of credit hours;
  • Economical – our courses are concise and free of any unnecessary distractions and integrated with Open Educational Resources (OER), wherever applicable, to keep costs low for students;
  • Relevant – course content is placed in an authentic context allowing students to connect with the course material and apply concepts directly to the real-world;
  • Student-Centered – content is tailored to an adult student population where students have a distinct opportunity to leverage their own learning experience and share knowledge; and
  • Clear – our course material is well constructed, expertly designed, and well written

When designing courses at TESU, the entire course design team has a pedagogical mindset; each activity is designed with a clear rationale and purpose tied to objectives and outcomes. We anticipate not only how students will learn, but how students will engage with the material and how we will assess student learning.

Heather Russino

Written by Heather Russino

Heather Russino is an instructional designer in The W. J. Seaton Center for Learning and Technology, an innovative and trailblazing learning environment center that serves self-directed students through the use of current and emerging technology and outcomes-driven curriculum design. A Columbia University graduate and educator for over 20 years, Russino enjoys writing about her areas of expertise in teaching, learning and course design.

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