Creating an Attractive Online Classroom: Organizing and Optimizing Your Courses
As school districts and institutions determine whether to conduct their learning partially back in the classroom or in a fully remote environment, instructors may be worried about their ability to build an engaging and effective online classroom. We all know that course content and learner assessment are some of the most important aspects of digital learning, but in order to create a solution that encourages positive learning experiences and streamlined collaboration among learners, there are a few considerations you must include in your course creation in order to build an attractive online classroom.
Streamlining and Organizing Your Courses
When an instructor is designing their online classroom, a best practice is to determine up front how they will organize their course materials for their learners. In other words, they must create the blueprint for their online classroom. Unfortunately, there is no one magical course structure or style that works for everyone. However, an online classroom creates opportunities for more dynamic and engaging approaches to learning that can be tailored to specific institutional or organizational needs. Instructors need to consider whether standardized course content or more personalized experiences work best for them and their learners. Course expectations and navigation should be clearly defined, streamlined, and intuitive. Furthermore, learning content including assignments, assessments, resources, and other course materials should be easy for learners to find and, whenever possible, accessible across all devices including mobile in order to help learners stay on track wherever they are. See a good example of course organization below. This instructor has formatted their online classroom into four main sections which is used each time the course meets. You can see that the instructor has chosen to outline the learning objectives for the session, the assessment, homework, and session resources. This is then used throughout the entire course to provide continuity to the learners. The learners then know where to find their work as well as additional resources if they need extra practice or remediation.
Including Visuals and Additional Tools and Media
Research shows that the use of visuals and more interactive media types can help assist with moving information from short-term into long-term memory storage. As beneficial as it is, not every instructor has the bandwidth or expertise to diversify their learning content. Without additional LMS support, it can be difficult to find the most useful visuals or tools to incorporate. However, in the meantime, these few considerations can help you start the process to modernize your courses and bring them to life more effectively.
Tip #1 – Choose the most relevant tools and visuals for your course content.
Even though visuals can grab the attention of our learners, it is important that you are selecting visuals that add value to your content. Consider adding PowerPoint presentations during virtual seminars or web conferencing. Use video or audio content in conjunction with written text when it’s most helpful.
Tip #2 – Be mindful of copyright laws.
Googling to find a visual or learning supplement to use in your course is not recommended nor a best practice. Use a site such as Creative Commons or Pixabay to find images for your online classroom. Images derived from these sites will ensure that you will avoid any issues with copyright laws. Connect with an expert eLearning partner to select high-quality, relevant additional course content.
Tip #3 – Always keep accessibility at the forefront of your mind.
When revamping your online classroom, be mindful of your learners with unique accessibility needs. If you are including visuals in your online classroom, you must include a text alternative when you upload the image. This is also a great opportunity where additional media such as audio and voice recordings can be particularly helpful. This will ensure that learners with various disabilities will be able to fully participate in your online classroom. If you are unsure about how to include accessibility in your visuals, you can read more here.
Tip #4 – Diversify even further with more innovative learning options.
Learning tools and practices continue to evolve and revolutionize the learning process in today’s fast changing world. Tools and methods such as gamification, augmented reality, and microlearning can help you create more dynamic and engaging learning experiences that learners can enjoy and there are always new tools making their way onto the eLearning market. Keep aware of the latest trends, tools and technologies that can help you enhance the learning experience. That said, it’s also important to make sure your learning platform is capable of incorporating new activity types. We recommend using an open-source learning platform as this type of platform allows you to future-proof your learning ecosystem and employ a best-of-breed content strategy. There are many different ways to create an attractive online classroom that’s streamlined, organized, and engaging for your constituents. To learn more about maximizing your digital learning efforts, explore Open LMS's fully-managed eLearning solutions, or click below to request an individual demonstration.