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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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.
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:
- Choose a needs analysis approach (e.g., Target Situation Analysis (TSA), Present Situation Analysis (PSA), Pedagogic Needs Analysis (PNA), Discourse Analysis, Genre Analysis)
- 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.
- Triangulate the data (i.e., collect data from more than one source using different methods).
- 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, in this very context, means: I don’t live in Hawaii, and you might 😉
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.
Oxford University Podcast Collection:
Portals and other related links:
Check the following links to find more OER for ELT: