Florida Gulf Coast
University was chartered to offer both on-campus and distance learning
programs to its student body. Teaching excellence and the effective
use of instructional technology were established as cornerstones of
the University's mission.
During the first
two years of operation, faculty and staff at Florida Gulf Coast University
(FGCU) designed 224 courses using the Internet as a major part of the
course design. Many additional courses integrated online activities
and resources as an element of their course designs. Much of the course
development work was done through rapid prototyping as part of the launching
of Florida's newest state university.
In April 1999, the
Technology Team of the Faculty Senate submitted an End-of-Year Report
suggesting the need for a Faculty Guide to Technology and Distance Learning.
In May 1999, as the second year of classes ended, all members of the
faculty were invited to apply for positions on the Design Principles
Study Group. Representatives from the colleges and departments were
selected to serve on the team. The group was charged with the task of
reviewing the literature and identifying a set of principles for online
instruction to guide the design, development and delivery of online
courses at FGCU.
The purpose of this
document is to provide a resource to faculty who are designing online
instructional materials. The FGCU
Mission Statement, Strategic Plan for Distance Learning, and
the End-of-Year Report of the Faculty Technology Team, indicate
that there is a need for a set of principles for using technology as
an instructional tool. This document is a response to that request.
- Review and analyze
distance learning data from FGCU faculty and students.
- Complete a working
draft of principles for the design based upon a rigorous review of
- Develop a Design
Checklist to assist faculty in the utilization of the Principles of
- Disseminate the
Design Principles institutionally and through professional networks.
- Field test the
Design Checklist to assess the quality and usability (ease of use)
of the instrument.
- Consult with
Curriculum Councils and the Faculty Senate to solicit feedback regarding
use of the Principles of Online Design and the Design Checklist as
benchmark of quality in online instruction.
Members of the Design
Principles Study Group included experienced online professors, instructional
designers, the Director of Media Development and the Director of Course
and Faculty Development. The first task of the group was to analyze
data from the Student Evaluation of FGCU Distance Learning Experiences
that was administered to 721 students who were enrolled in one or
more distance learning courses in the Spring-99 semester.
Twenty-seven percent (27%) of the population responded
to the survey and offered suggestions for improving distance learning
experiences. The top two categories of response were directly related
to course design principles:
32% suggested there was a need to improve instructional methods/procedures
15% asked for faster, more reliable instructor feedback.
The majority of
respondents' suggestions for improving distance learning addressed factors
associated with effective teaching that included:
specific and clear statements of learning objectives and expectations;
content and course organization;
timely feedback; faculty's teaching strategies;
learning activities that support objectives, and effective assessment
supported the initiative to develop principles for online learning and
the ongoing need for performance accountability. The respondents offered
many useful suggestions for improvement as well as words of commendation
The team reviewed
current literature related to online instruction to create a framework
for outlining principles for designing, developing and delivering online
instruction. Once the team reached agreement on this framework, each
member took responsibility for either drafting the content for one of
the sections or maintaining a journal of the group's work. After a master
draft of all sections was compiled the entire team critiqued, revised,
and reached agreement on the language of each section.
Online Instruction Defined
is any formal educational process in which the instruction occurs when
the learner and the instructor are not in the same place and Internet
technology is used to provide a communication link among the instructor
of online instruction include:
- Sharing information
on a web site (example: course syllabus/ web site))
- Providing practice
for new concepts by using online activities such as simulations and
one-to-one or one-to-many via email for instructional purposes
- Conducting discussions
by using a threaded discussion board
- Conducting discussion
by using chat
- Holding office
hours by using chat or bulletin board
- Delivering library
resources via the Internet (example: Electronic databases, electronic
- Giving practice
tests or evaluating performance by using online assessments
- Submitting assignments