Creating a distance course
Developing new courses and programmes at the University always requires a great deal of advance planning. When you create a Web course you should bear in mind the following:
Educational and technical preparations
- Develop the fundamental idea of the course – goals, content, target group, educational analysis, teaching methods, etc. Pay special attention to the scope and function of the Web-based components of the course.
- Anchor the course within the department (head of department, director of studies, course administrator, teaching colleagues). Individual teachers are often the ones who take the initiative to start a Web course. If the department supports and encourages its personnel, the chances are better that the advantages of IT will be recognised among teachers and administration.
- Discuss the costs of course development, teaching and materials.
- Write your proposed course syllabus and submit it to the department and faculty for approval.
- Compile information about the course. Write texts for the course catalogue and your own information pages. Be sure to make it clear how much of the course will be Web based and what will be required in terms of technical equipment. For distance courses it is also a good idea to be able to give the dates for any meetings.
- Review what programme and course needs exist. It’s an advantage if both the teacher and the course administrator are familiar with the learning environment and the Web-based resources used in the course.
- Build your course. Create the course’s Web pages documents, videos, discussions, assignments, etc.
- Set the reading list and inform the bookshops.
- Check for any copyrighted materials and secure permission if necessary.
- Write a comprehensive study guide. Take care to explain how the course is set up, what is expected of students and what they can expect of you.
- Test and practise using new technology and software until you have mastered it.
Prepare course registration and transfer of participants
- Use the Student Portal course registration function. Here you can state when it will be possible to register for the course and post information to students. Urge them to apply for a student account.
- If the Ping Pong learning platform is to be used, you will need to set up a Ping Pong link in Student Portal. Course participants will then be transferred to the learning platform, and the students will have access to Ping Pong. Use the code you were given when the course shell was created.
Design information material for admissions
- Prepare any necessary information for the department homepage and contact its Webmaster.
- Enter information on the course page in Student Portal, such as the timetable and welcoming message.
- Write to those admitted in the first round. Include information about the course being Web based, about Web registration and the requirement of having a student account. State clearly what students need to do, and when.
- Write to those admitted in the second round. Repeat the deadlines from the previous letter. Again, be clear about Web registration, applying for a student account, logging on to Ping Pong, if relevant, and where they should turn if they have problems.
- Write a letter to students admitted late.
Registration and course start
- Stay abreast of ongoing registrations for the course in Student Portal. Make sure that late admissions are registered properly.
- Welcome the students and communicate with them. See to it that everyone logging on to the course in Student Portal or the Ping Pong learning platform receives a welcoming message and an assignment, even though the course has not officially started yet. It’s good to activate the students before the course gets underway.
- Get in touch with students who have not acquired a student account and/or not logged on a few days before the course starts. As the teacher, you can see those who do not have student accounts most readily from the list of course participants in Student Portal.