Creating Online Learning Experiences
Posted: January 13, 2020 | Updated: August 7, 2020
Author: Matt Crosslin, et al.; University of Texas at Arlington
This book provides an updated look at issues that comprise the online learning experience creation process. As online learning evolves, the lines and distinctions between various classifications of courses has blurred and often vanished. Classic elements of instructional design remain relevant at the same time that newer concepts of learning experience are growing in importance. However, problematic issues new and old still have to be addressed. This handbook explores many of these topics for new and experienced designers alike, whether creating traditional online courses, open learning experiences, or anything in between.
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Creating Online Learning Experiences by Matt Crosslin, et al.; University of Texas at Arlington is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.
3.9 / 5
Q: The text covers all areas and ideas of the subject appropriately and provides an effective index and/or glossary
This textbook provides a general overview for teaching and preparing a MOOC and/or a hybrid online course (face to face with synchronous activity), and it also begins the conversation on how to create an advanced course design (Learning Pathways Course). Throughout each chapter and at the end of each chapter, multiple references are given to further support deeper exploration of the topic discussed in the chapter. The book provides a fully cited bibliography at the end of the book, followed by a summary of the links given in each chapter. There is no glossary or index.
A recommendation would be to have a glossary of the acronyms used in each chapter either at the beginning or the end of the chapter as this can be confusing to a reader who is new to this content area.
It would be interesting to have more information on how to create student engagement in asynchronous regular sized online courses. There is a lack of discussion on this type of online experience in this textbook.
The overall, helpfulness of this textbook is very good from the perspective of a new instructor who wants some guidelines as they prep and develop their MOOC or hybrid course with synchronous opportunities.
Comprehensiveness Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: Content is accurate, error-free and unbiased
The content is accurate in terms of referencing and grammar concerns. There is an author's bias as is the case with any textbook. In particular, there is a strong commitment to having creating OER but this is understandable given the topic of the book. Some points of privacy and copyright are mentioned but this should be elaborated on for people who are new to OER.
Also there is an assumption that every course instructor has access to an instructional designer as many of the planning processes ask to consult one and that is not always an available resource.
There is a strong preference towards mediation/mindfulness to be built into the course but this is not something that all institutions or educators may feel comfortable with for various reasons.
The section on the use of social media offers more than one perspective which is great but this section in of itself promotes social media avenues that are well known, the ones that are less known are mentioned but details are rarely mentioned about them.
The recommendation for script writing before taping a video and the technical pieces that should be in place for a quality video are more "best practices" even though the author shares that the book is not about best practices.
The are helpful guiding questions for instructors to think through the process with some attention given to diversity of content and the reach of it and the equitable access to technology, which are is great. The overall philosophy mentioned at the end of the book with respect to the non-linear nature of online teaching was interesting but contradictory at times with the detailed scaffolded questions or suggestions provided in the chapters.
Content Accuracy Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: Content is up-to-date, but not in a way that will quickly make the text obsolete within a short period of time. The text is written and/or arranged in such a way that necessary updates will be relatively easy and straightforward to implement
The content is up to date at the time of publication. More can be added given the covid-19 pandemic and how post-secondary institutions are being asked to plan alternative mode delivery (mostly asynchronous classes) due to the student population being from around the world.
The information to plan a MOOC or design a basic online hybrid course is helpful as a frame of reference as this will always be a good starting point.
I am unsure if the necessary updates will be easy and straightforward to implement given the above context. In terms of new resources being inputted into the chapter or at the end of the chapter in addition to the end of the book those updates would be easy to do.
Relevance Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: The text is written in lucid, accessible prose, and provides adequate context for any jargon/technical terminology used
The text is chunked in a simple and easy way to read. The suggestion for a glossary in each chapter on the first page of this review would be recommended. There were times were I forgot or did not recognize the abbreviations in subsequent chapters.
Clarity Rating: 3 out of 5
Q: The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework
Again, the text is consistent with its abbreviated terminology but not clear for the reader to follow, especially if the book is read in chunks.
The framework of the book if that is represented by the table of contents and the goal of providing the reader with a starting point for developing MOOC's and online hybrid courses then yes it delivers on this internally.
Consistency Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: The text is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course (i.e., enormous blocks of text without subheadings should be avoided). The text should not be overly self-referential, and should be easily reorganized and realigned with various subunits of a course without presenting much disruption to the reader.
There are easy and short chapters to read and they can be read independently. The references within the chapter sometimes can be overwhelming because not only are they used to support the ideas but the actual text shares the names of resources that can consulted as well. Perhaps to put additional resources at the end of the chapter would be less distracting to the reader? However, if it was intentional to have extra resources in relation to the sub-topic/ sub-section then that is understandable.
Toward the end of the book in the first half of chapter 13 there were many self-references made to the lead author, but perhaps that is their particular area of expertise?
Modularity Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion
The table of contents does a good job setting up the topics for the book. The topics are shared in a clear fashion.
The first 7 chapters do an excellent job in giving a strong overview of the building blocks of the MOOC or online hybrid course. The thinking through stages in each of the first 7 chapters was done in a way that invited the reader to think for themselves without any judgement on their choice. Thank you for these facilitating chapters.
I would recommend more information on assessment as there is very little in terms of examples provided in the chapter itself and this is a substantial part of instructor's duties, so more on this topic is necessary. In addition the input on diversity training and equity is a sub-topic mentioned in the last few chapters of the book, perhaps that needs to be a chapter of its own? Especially since the vulnerabilities of people are different in an online platform.
Organization Rating: 3 out of 5
Q: The text is free of significant interface issues, including navigation problems, distortion of images/charts, and any other display features that may distract or confuse the reader
The text was free of significant interface issues, I reviewed a printed copy!
Interface Rating: 5 out of 5
Q: The text contains no grammatical errors
I did not see any of these! :)
Grammar Rating: 5 out of 5
Q: The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. It should make use of examples that are inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds
As mentioned previously it is recommended to have an independent chapter in the book about diversity in content/process and equitable access with respect to MOOCs and online hybrid courses. There is no insensitive language used.
Cultural Relevance Rating: 3 out of 5
Q: Are there any other comments you would like to make about this book, for example, its appropriateness in a Canadian context or specific updates you think need to be made?
Yes, I would recommend this textbook for instructors who are looking for a self-directed learning experience on how to build, process, and deliver an online hybrid course or MOOC. The first 7 chapters are very insightful with great visual tables, big ideas on how to approach teaching, engaging students, and course set up. Chapter 8-14 are a bit more directed and focused for an instructor who may share the same perspective/passion on the remaining topics as the author.
I would still encourage a glossary with each chapter as that would make the chapters more accessible.
Thank you for the opportunity to review this textbook, I learned many ways to improve my online teaching and had an opportunity to consider and unpack what a MOOC entailed and more detailed features/techniques for online production.