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10 Proven Steps to Accelerate Your Online Course, Part 1

Submitted by on June 20, 2013 – 12:07 pmNo Comment

This is part one of 10 Proven Steps to Accelerate Your Online Course. Below, Dr. Melissa Kaulbach shares the first five steps of the course acceleration process; part two will address the remaining five steps.

10 steps final-newBecause of the flexibility and convenience online learning offers, more students want degree programs delivered online, specifically in the accelerated format. Many online learners are non-traditional students—they typically have full time jobs and responsibilities in the home. By offering accelerated courses, we meet these students’ unique needs to best set them up for success on their track towards a degree. Unfortunately, there’s no “easy button” for the course acceleration process; however, for many years, I have successfully coached faculty during this process using a proven 10-step method to ease fear and uncertainty among instructors who are new to designing accelerated courses.

Step 1: Identify measurable course objectives, and align the objectives to program objectives. This helps you determine how your course fits in with the entire program—it also helps you determine which content to include (and exclude) in the accelerated version of your traditional course.

Step 2: Combine complementary weekly topics. For example, if the topics from weeks two and four are similar, marry up the two topics into one week. Doing so enables you to shorten the course length while retaining necessary topics.

Step 3: Align your philosophy and pedagogy to your objectives, and ensure that the objectives are measurable.   Consider the learning environment you are creating—a constructivist or connectivist environment (or perhaps a blend)—and use the principles of these theories to drive learning objectives you create. The assignments and assessments should also aligned to the learning objectives. See steps #4 and #5 for more details. Suggestions: Consider the flipped classroom, project-based learning, scenario-based learning, and collaborative learning.

 Step 4: Create authentic learning experiences. Designing the accelerated version of a course requires you to adjust some of the activities assigned in the traditional format. Think from the perspective of the online student, and consider whether the assignments are doable in the condensed time frame. Remember to align assignments and activities with the methodology.

Examples of authentic learning experiences: Case studies, project-based assignments, experiential activities, collaborative assignments, observations
Tips for creating authentic learning experiences:

  • When combining weekly topics, scale down assignments need to accommodate students’ and your workloads, yet still produce the same student learning outcomes.
  • Provide options for student learning preferences. For example, students can choose to present their work through a choice of three to five modes (e.g., Prezi, Glogster EDU, SlideShare).
  • Provide rubrics to help students understand your expectations for successfully completing the assignment.

Step 5: Use a variety of assessments. Using a variety of assessments addresses varied learning style preferences, and students are provided opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge acquisition through multiple modes of assessment. Examples of assessments: Culminating projects, randomized test pools, auto-graded quizzes, essays, e-portfolios Tips for creating assessments:

  • Ensure assignments and assessments align with measurable learning objectives.
  • Provide rubrics for projects and essays.


Don’t miss the second part of this series! Tomorrow, we’ll share the remaining five steps for accelerating your online course. Your Turn! Do you already use any of these tips to accelerate your online course? What advice would you give other instructors about to follow a similar process? [social-bio]

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