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Principles of Online Design
Principles of Online Design



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Course Management

Effective course management planning during design and development can help the instructor to alleviate the potentially increased time spent in managing the online course.

Time Requirements | Tracking Progress | Feedback | Managing Communication | Online Learning Community

4.1 Time Requirements

4.1.1 The instructor should allocate adequate time to develop and deliver an online course.


A. If at all possible, complete the design and development of an online course prior to its delivery. Module development is time consuming.

B. If a full completion is not possible, complete at least half of the course design and development before the course begins. This will allow for at least a month spread between where the students are in the learning phase and where the instructor is in the development phase. As the students are progressing through the first half, the instructor should be developing subsequent modules.

Do not fall into the trap of staying only one week ahead of the students since some students may want to complete assignments at a faster pace than others.


Have all modules complete by the beginning of the semester.

If more modules need to be completed, most course management systems, such as ANGEL, will allow each module to be hidden from students until the faculty is ready for them to access it.

C. Set aside an appropriate amount of time each week dedicated to managing an online course.

Posting resource links or FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions) on the course site will assist students with questions before they arise. Resource links might include content links, library and search links, technical support links, and tutoring links. Inform students of how and where they can get answers to their questions.

Plan time dedicated to the evaluation of assignments, monitoring online discussions, and replying to student email. Keep in mind that a major complaint of distance learning students is the delay or absence of feedback. Inform students of any designated times that you will be replying to emails.

Requiring students to post questions about the course to a designated Discussion Forum (such as "Student Questions") can reduce the time that faculty spend answering duplicate questions in email. When the questions are posed on the discussion fourm, it can also allow more experienced students to assist in answering these questions.

4.1.2 The instructor should recommend the enrollment number in an online course depending on the course content, the support system, and the instructor's experience with online instruction.

A. An online course involves more student interaction than a traditional classroom course, and therefore requires more instructor time.



Whereas in a "traditional" course, a few students might approach the instructor with questions after the class, in an online course, all the students are corresponding with the instructor and at different times. Because of the increased student interaction, enrollment in online courses should be limited according to the course content and support systems available to prevent faculty overload.

4.1.3 The instructor should prepare students for taking the responsibility of learning in an online course.


Student time commitments may increase in online courses since the responsibility for learning shifts from being teacher-centered to student-centered.





In distance learning courses, students assume responsibility for their learning and a certain level of self-discipline is required for an online course. Students should be made aware of this prior to the start of the course so they can plan their time accordingly.

Online instructors may wish to plan activities during the first week of a course to help students determine how they function as independent learners and become familiar with the expectations and time commitments required by the course.

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