OUGEO Presence at Osaka JALT Back to School 2017

Back to School 2017

Despite the rapid growth of online teaching and learning at institutes of higher education worldwide, switching to online courses can pose a great challenge to those involved in creating and administering them. In our presentation at Osaka JALT Back to School 2017, Mehrasa and I tried to simplify, clarify, and exemplify the process of online course design.

We focused on practices that we found successful in designing online English courses based on the related literature and our hands-on experience as online instructional designers.

Under the project title of Osaka University Global English Online (OUGEO), we designed and developed, and are now implementing, a blended course of English for General Academic Purposes (EGAP) at Osaka University targeting second-year undergraduate students for a period of 15 weeks, of which 10 sessions are purely online and 5 sessions are face-to-face.

First, we reviewed popular instructional design models like ADDIE and SAM. We also discussed topics such as online syllabus, learning management systems, e-learning authoring tools, online visual design, e-assessment, and e-feedback. Finally, we introduced the most practical standards checklists for online course self-evaluation: The Standards Checklist by Marjorie Vai and Kristen Sosulski (2011) and Quality Matters Higher Education Course Design Rubric Standards, Fifth Edition (2014).

Slides: Online Course Design 101: All You Need to Know to Get Started

Buggy Blackboard

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Osaka University has been using the Blackboard Learn™ platform since 2005, which is known as CLE (Collaboration and Learning Environment). I used to be a Moodler, and I personally prefer Moodle, because Blackboard often gets buggy, which makes the process of online course design extremely slow! That is why many universities are switching to Moodle such as Montana State University, California State University, and Long Beach (Blackboard Learn: Criticism).

Here is the list of major bugs I struggled with during the development phase of the online course, named Osaka University Global English Online (OUGEO):

  1. Formatting glitches (e.g., extra spaces were added erroneously to the text, font got changed after uploading)
  2. Unresponsiveness of Bb Student and Blackboard Mobile Learn apps (e.g., large images and some fonts were not shown properly on the apps)
  3. Errors in the process of making tests and assignments

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Moreover, no spell/grammar checker is available on Blackboard. This can cause serious problems in the design, development, and delivery phases of an online course, especially an English course.