Below is a list of what I need to be a successful online learner. The common themes for me are structure and clarity – I am an organized person who likes to know what’s coming and plan for it in advance. Otherwise I find myself getting anxious and frustrated, which becomes a barrier to my learning.
– Very clear expectations for assignments (including detailed instructions and a rubric or similar tool)
– Rapid formative feedback – how am I doing? How can I improve before the course ends?
– Knowing all due dates in advance
– Clear course structure with the ability to look ahead at future weeks (and possibly work ahead if time permits)
– Approachable instructor who will answer questions clearly and quickly
– Reasonable amount of weekly tasks for someone who works full-time
– Links and documents all open properly (or are fixed if broken)
– Technology that’s intuitive and user-friendly
– Sense of community and mutual respect (e.g. commenting on each other’s forum posts)
– Appropriate level of difficulty in the course content – challenging but not to the point of discouragement
– Recommended resources to use as a starting point for research
These are things I’ve tried to incorporate into the online courses I’ve taught so far but some points could definitely be improved. For example, I include basic marking schemes for assignments but not detailed rubrics.