There are five MUST-HAVE items to add in an online course which you are going to set-up be it on an LMS platform or Google Classroom or a blog platform e.g. WordPress / Blogger.
Must-Have #1 About the trainer
The moment when the learners entered the digital-virtual classroom, the info about the trainer should be clearly seen. I do not mean the info of the trainer should be smacked at the centre of the “wall”. It should be located at the side of the “wall”. Right or left column, it is fine. It should be always there and not easily pushed away from add-on content or hidden whereby it is difficult to locate by the learners.
What should be added in the section or column “about the trainer”? It is advisable not to add in history or lengthy achievements. It all depends on the purpose of the information. The following question “How does the information about the trainer helps the learners in add value to the navigation of the virtual classroom?” will decide what kind of information to add.
For me, if I am teaching an online course (blended or fully online), I will add in my photo, name, my contact details, and my consultation time (online and offline). If you have a larger space to add in more, that will described in the following Must-Have Item #2.
Must-Have #2 Prelude to the online course
Add a section which includes about the online course, expectation of the online course, how the online course flows via the stated topics, where to seek help in the virtual classroom, and the teacher / facilitator’s expectations towards the learners. It is suggested to add your own words for the description on the online course and expectations of the online course to create a sense of teacher’s personal touch. Learners react positively when there is a teacher’s touch in the online course. There are several ways to present the listed information. There are applications like Powtoon (online platform for creating video) , Pixtoon (online platform for creating comic) and Canva which information can be interpreted visually. If you are not shy, you can also video record yourself and upload the video for the learners to watch.
Must-Have #3 Course Image
When the learners enter the virtual classroom, it will be a plus factor to have a visual which represents the course. The image below is one of the images I used for online course: Flipping Classroom to Active Learning. The background image was taken from Pexels, a website with tonnes of FREE stock photos (highly recommended). The overall image was created using PowerPoint.
When the image was placed in the virtual classroom, it added excitement among the learners. The excited feeling though small, is sufficient to trigger the learners’ interest in the online course. Hence, it is crucial to choose the right image to perk the learners’ interest.
Must-Have #4 Reminders
It is about what they cannot forget to do or even what they need to do if face a problem in the online course. Usually, I would placed the reminders at one side of a column (Using HTML box for Moodle, or Text Widget for WordPress). For example, for the online course, there would be embedded YouTube videos for the learners to watch.
The following reminder was added:
There are videos from YouTube which are important to watch. If your working place bandwidth is not able to support view, please watch using your own telco bandwidth or your home internet line.
It is tedious to add that reminder under each YouTube video.
There were also reminders on submission of assignments. Putting up reminders like this assists the learners to remember things (if they almost forget).
Must-Have #5 The AH (Announcement + Helpline) Sections
These are compulsory sections for every online course. The learners will be able to locate where to retrieve announcements of the course and also asked for help. But the facilitator has to make sure, the queries needed to be answered as soon as possible. Do not leave it unanswered for more than a day! Else, it will lose its purpose.
How about the readers? What other must-haves you have used to set-up an online course? Please do add on.