For example, if the course builds on a previous course, it is incumbent on the faculty to have a good
understanding of how and to what depth a concept was explored, understood, and applied in order
to level their course appropriately. Again, this drives home the message of how important
collaboration is to the success of an online program.
Conceptual scaffolding is particularly important because conceptual understanding deepens as
students progress through the program and individual courses. Consistent with constructivist
learning theory, students are guided to link prior knowledge to new learning and to use critical
thinking and questioning of their underlying assumptions and beliefs, thereby transforming their
thinking (Stavredes & Herder, 2014). Table 8-12 provides an example that demonstrates how the
concept of leadership is leveled and scaffolded over two semesters.
Asking for feedback from students when a course is taught for the first time provides valuable
information. Feedback about the ease of navigating the course is particularly helpful. It is not
uncommon to teach a course about three times before it is completely to your satisfaction. You can
anticipate spending 20–30 hours preparing your course if you have taught a face-to-face version
before and are familiar with the LMS. More time will be needed if this is the first time you have
taught an online course (Boettcher & Conrad, 2016). Each time you teach the same course, you must
carefully review the course to ensure your content is current; to confirm that internal and external
links are functional; and most importantly, to make changes based on student feedback not only in
terms of content, as appropriate, but also design.
Best-Practice Recommendations for Online Teaching
Keep the student at the center of the design.
Provide online students with collaborative and individual learning experiences.
Use formative assessments throughout the course based on learning activities that meet the module
objectives, which in turn will facilitate students’ ability to meet the course outcomes.
When designing the course, collaborate with instructional designers and other faculty to enhance
creativity and ensure alignment or leveling of the course.
Engage in ongoing reflection throughout the online course design process to truly provide an
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