Three Principles of On-line Course Design
JALTCALL 2000 Conference, Tokyo University of Technology, Tokyo, Japan, June 10-11, 2000

(abstract: long version)

For many teachers, delivering lesson content to students over the Internet is appealing. This presentation is aimed at teachers as course materials designers, and its purpose is to help them take fuller advantage of the potential of the Internet as a medium. Following a case study report format with a practical focus, the analysis and discussion focus on the presenter's own 4 years of course material design, usability analysis and subsequent materials revision cycles. This analysis and discussion illustrate three general principles which participants can use in their own course material
development cycles.

The principles, broadly defined, are:

  1. Scaffold from the known to the unknown.
  2. Keep learning goals at the forefront. This includes two separate yet complimentary principles:
    1. Provide tasks which are purposeful.
    2. Do not let standard web design principles interfere with learning goals.
  3. Allow opportunities for students to check their understanding. (Simple yet effective steps designers can use to gauge incremental gains in understanding will be shown.)

Examples shown to illustrate these principles are from the presenter's own "mistakes" in the original materials and the subsequent design "fixes" (especially where user analysis revealed shortcomings in the materials). Participants will leave with practical insights for making their on-line materials student-friendly and effective. This includes some HTML and JavaScript code, as well as a brief overview of authoring software for JavaScript-based activities.

(This presentation would also be useful for teachers who simply wish to evaluate existing on-line materials before adopting them for their classes.)