Does It Really Take Longer to Create an Online English Course?

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Based on my personal experience, the answer is a big yes, especially if you are offering your English course at different levels. The reason is that you have to label a large number of folders for each week and level, and then you get easily confused about what to put where! It also takes longer to create your online course if the learning management system (LMS) that you are using is buggy, which makes the process of uploading painstakingly longer.

Designing an online course takes a substantial investment of time; therefore, time management is a critical component in creating an online course. That is why collaboration is the cornerstone of online course design, as many hands make the load light. Once everything is in place online, the rest of the work becomes just a little easier! 😉

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Online Learning Readiness

Are You Ready

Photo created by Canva

Before the start of an online course, an online needs and skills assessment survey (ONSAS), also known as e-readiness survey, should be completed by the prospective students to ensure that they are ready to take the online course, and decide whether learner training sessions are necessary or not.

My co-authors and I (2017) recently used an adapted version of the Technology Survey, developed by Winke and Goertler (2008) to assess Japanese learners’ perceived e-readiness for learning English online prior to implementing our prospective online EGAP (English for General Academic Purposes) course, titled Osaka University Global English Online (OUGEO).

Readiness for online learning can also be measured by SmarterMeasure (formerly READI) which is a web-based tool that assesses learners’ preparedness for succeeding in an online or blended course. You can explore it here, and then try to convince your institution to subscribe!

You can also explore “Student Readiness for Online Learning” bookmark collection on MERLOT.

Some Suggestions on Conducting a Needs Analysis for an Online English Course

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Photo credit: https://community.articulate.com/articles/how-to-do-an-e-learning-needs-analysis

What teachers do online is actually similar to what they do “on the ground” (Ko & Rossen, 2010, p. 12). That is why the first and most important step for designing an effective online course is conducting a needs analysis.

Here is a to-do list for doing an English needs analysis, along with a few suggestions based on a needs analysis that I have done recently:

  1. Choose a needs analysis approach (e.g., Target Situation Analysis (TSA), Present Situation Analysis (PSA), Pedagogic Needs Analysis (PNA), Discourse Analysis, Genre Analysis)
  2. Choose a needs analysis method (e.g., questionnaire, interview, observation, diaries, journals, logs). Try to choose/design a short questionnaire or adapt long ones such as Gravatt, Richards, and Lewis (1997) to make the analysis process easier.
  1. Triangulate the data (i.e., collect data from more than one source using different methods).
  1. Read the whole recent book by Brown (2016), titled Introducing Needs Analysis and English for Specific Purposes, before starting your needs analysis (as suggested by Brown himself in the preface). This book is an up-to-date, step-by-step guide to doing the recursive, holistic process of needs analysis.

Aloha!*

*Aloha, in this very context, means: I don’t live in Hawaii, and you might 😉

My Favorite Open Educational Resources (OER) for ELT

OER

Photo credit: https://tips.uark.edu/oer-open-educational-resources/

Open Educational Resources (OER) have a central role to play in designing an online course.

Here are some of my favorite links of OER for English language teaching and learning.

Portals and other related links:

Check the following links to find more OER for ELT:

Three Practical Points on CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference)

English Profile

The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR or CEF) is a guideline used to describe language ability on a scale of levels from A1 for beginners up to C2 for those who have mastered a language. CEFR can be used as a standard in the process of designing a language online course.


1. The English Vocabulary Profile (EVP) shows which words and phrases learners know at each level (i.e., from A1 to C2) of the CEFR. You can subscribe to the A1-C2 English Vocabulary Profile here, which is available for free for the time being.

Words are also listed according to their CEFR levels in Cambridge Learner’s Dictionary.


2. The English Grammar Profile (EGP) shows which grammatical forms and meanings learners know at each level (i.e., from A1 to C2) of the CEFR. The EGP is available here.


3. The following text inspectors can be used to check the difficulty of any text in terms of the CEFR levels.

http://www.englishprofile.org/wordlists/text-inspector

http://www.textinspector.com/

http://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/oxford_3000_profiler.html

My Favorite Websites for Creative Commons Images

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Images are an indispensable part of your online course. Here, I share my favorite websites for Creative Commons (CC) images.

And remember, “avoid using distracting images for decoration”! (Marjorie Vai & Kristen Sosulski, p. 73)

If you are not familiar with Creative Commons licences, click here (“Shared Creations: Making Use of Creative Commons” by by Emily Puckett and Kristin Fontichiaro, 2013).

Writing Good Learning Objectives and Learning Outcomes

These two resources will help you write good learning objectives and learning outcomes for your online course.

  1. Writing Learning Outcomes by Marjorie Vai and Kristen Sosulski (2011)

    Check the book’s website for models of good online course design: http://essentialsofonlinecoursedesign.com/

  1. The ABCDs of Writing Instructional Objectives by Brett Bixler

    Blooms_Taxonomy_pyramid_cake-style-use-with-permissionPhoto credit: https://tips.uark.edu/using-blooms-taxonomy/