Sunday, September 9, 2007

10 Important Concepts for DL Courses

1. A simple online course could be delivered by using a website or email. Instructors can post a course material on the website and send students assignments as email attachments. The students can complete assignments and send them back to the instructor for comment and feedback. This is a rudimentary use of technology. However, for more advanced courses, a school should have access to a distance learning management system as Blackboard, WebCT, or Lotus Notes.

2. It is crucial to have a technical support for distance learning faculty and students. The technical support staff should be in charge of everyday maintenance system, upgrade and backup of the DL management system.

3. Instructors need training to use technology effectively. They should learn about the distance learning management system and all its features, such as existence of discussion boards, file transfer capability, and an online gradebook.

4. Instructors should carefully consider technology requirements for their course and they have to identify those requirements for students prior to the beginning of the course.

5. Instructors should present new material with different media: text, audio, and video in order to address students with different learning styles --the visual style, the auditory style, and the kinesthetic style.

6. Distance learning should provide students with a learner-centered environment where learners assume primary responsibility for their choices and have opportunities to exercise control over their learning.

7. Distance learning course should be designed to provide ample student/instructor interaction. To make the course more interactive, the instructor could provide threaded discussions, synchronous chats, send students emails, communicate with them via instant massager, have videoconferences, webinars, etc.

8. Instructors should carefully plan distance learning course, set goals and objectives, and divided the course into unites, modules, topics, and learning outcomes. It’s important to have a syllabus and calendar with assignments and deadlines.

9. Students should have projects and assignments related to learning outcome, and it should be at least one learning outcome per topic or module.

10. Instructors should develop efficient assessment methods and use the distance learning management system’s tracking capabilities to measure student participation. Students should be provided with feedback and grades for their assignments and projects.


Carlson, R. (1999). Teaching with Technology: Migrating Your Course to the Online Environment. Syllabus Magazine, September Issue, from:

Simonson, M. et al. (2006). Teaching and Learning at a Distance: Foundations of Distance Education (3rd. Ed.). Pearson Education Inc.: New Jersey.

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