Online Course Design? Keep it (super) simple

Great post in its entirety:

Here are the Highlights

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.” — Albert Einstein

Less is more. In general:

    • “Omit needless words”…
    • …and multimedia. Only include video, slides, or external hyperlinks when they clearly support learning. List everything else as references.
    • Avoid redundancy which splits attention or causes information overload.
    • Tear down the wallpaper. Avoid media as decoration; instead, grab students’ attention with relevant stories and anecdotes.

Use hyperlinks (wisely). Referring back to previous learning and pointing forward to upcoming activities can reinforce course goals. But remember that too many hyperlinks may adversely affect cognitive load, so be selective.

Clear, concise directions. Students need explicit directions (except when they don’t). But if we want students to read those directions, paying attention to the critical bits, we need to write as concisely as possible. Rubrics and Outcomes will help ensure that your assessment criteria are neatly expressed with clear ties to course goals.

Stay on target. Being able to clearly articulate how every learning activity maps to a specific outcome is one way of keeping the weeds out of the garden. If you can’t identify how a reading, activity, or assessment supports a course outcome, chances are you don’t need it.

Free up the homepage. Because many students will see it every time they access the course, keep your home page free of static, one-time-use information better suited for Announcements.


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