Practical Guidelines for Creating Online Courses in K-12 Education

Practical Guidelines for Creating Online Courses in K-12 Education

Wayne Journell (University of North Carolina at Greensboro, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6383-1.ch005
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Online learning is the future of K-12 education. However, few online K-12 instructors have been formally trained in online pedagogy. This chapter describes best practices in creating online courses for K-12 students. Many aspects of online learning are the same regardless of the age of the students taking the courses, but adolescents often experience online instruction differently than university students or adult learners. Although far from comprehensive, this chapter describes basic guidelines and offers recommendations for K-12 educators wishing to create engaging online learning opportunities for their students.
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Initial Considerations

The recommendations in this chapter rest on the notion that attempting to recreate one’s face-to-face instruction online by simply transferring what works in the classroom to an online format is not a best practice. Such an approach is often taken by novice online instructors who have little training in online pedagogy, but it typically results in a text-heavy online experience that does not take advantage of the digital aspect of virtual instruction. In other words, the common perception of an online learner as someone sitting at his or her desk reading large amounts of text in isolation and then submitting work to a faceless instructor is incorrect. I would argue that this type of online learning is inappropriate for students of any age, but it is especially detrimental for adolescents.

It is essential for teachers to remember that K-12 students often have different learning needs than college undergraduates and adult learners (Ormrod, 2008) and, therefore, K-12 online courses should to cater to those needs. Determining the exact learning needs of adolescents is a complex endeavor, and a nuanced discussion of adolescent learning theory is beyond the scope of this chapter; however, it is important for teachers to keep in mind a few basic assumptions when they design online courses. Of particular interest to online instruction are the following research-based beliefs (e.g., Beamon, 2001; Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 1999; Lambert & McCombs, 1998)

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