Online learning is the fastest growing segment in the educational marketplace (Conhaim, 2003). As the number of online courses increases and distance learning programs grow in popularity, questions of quality and comparability of online courses with traditional methods naturally arise (Schulman & Sims, 1999). While online learning is the fastest growing educational segment, partly in thanks to on-campus students who choose to take courses online, there are still debates about not only the quality of the course content, but the quality of the technology used as well. According to Bowman (2003), in “the history of higher education, online classes are relatively new, and it is yet to be determined how to take full advantage of the technology” (p. 73). Traditional face-to-face courses, which may have been proven successful in terms of evaluations and outcomes assessments, are increasingly being converted to online courses. A study by Smith, Ferguson, and Caris (2000) concluded: “Contrary to intuition, current Web-based online college courses are not an alienating, mass-produced product. They are a laborintensive, highly text-based, intellectually challenging forum which elicits deeper thinking on the part of the students” (p. 67). Converting a traditional classroom course that is intellectually challenging and that elicits deeper thinking into an online course that can do the same can be a harrowing task. The process of converting a face-to-face course into an online course without compromising the course’s integrity and quality is a difficult burden to overcome. The burden of the conversion process can be eased, however, through the use of course maps.
Course Mapping Process
The process of course mapping begins with a review of the goals and objectives established for the course, as well as a review of how these learning objectives and goals are accomplished in a face-to-face setting. Using a well-designed face-to-face course, it will be easy to see which course requirements (e.g., lecture notes, assignments, projects, exams) are connected to each of the objectives or goals. At this early stage in the process, it is more important to thoroughly review the course objectives, requirements, expectations, and assessment techniques, than to think about the role of technology. As explained by Helmuth (2000), it is vital to have good teachers involved in the development of online instruction so that technology does not play a more dominant role than pedagogy. While course objectives will likely stay the same, course requirements may see significant change.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Online Participatory Exercises: Course-related activities that can be conducted online such as interactive tutorials, simulations, discussion forums, pre- and post-practice quizzes, and real-time chat.
Synchronous: Communication that requires both students and faculty to interact online at the same time, such as in a real-time chat.
Course Map: Graphical image that provides a pictorial representation of the course syllabus to allow for easy conversion from face-to-face to online delivery.
Asynchronous: Communication that allows for the sharing of ideas over a period of time, such as through discussion boards, e-mail, or a newsroom.
Reusable Learning Object (RLO): Resources that can be used for facilitating intended learning outcomes, and be extracted and reused in other learning environments.