The Development or production phase is informed by the course Blueprint developed in the Design phase. In this phase, instructional materials and resources, such as instructor notes, activities, assessments, and media are identified. The layout and sequencing of the course is implemented in this phase.
In this phase, the following components are created:
Additional resources such as audio, video, tables, graphics, and readings, are often an integral part of a course. The resources chosen should be carefully selected in support of the content, as well as be accessible and usable by the wide variety of learners in the online environment.
Supplying materials in multiple modalities provides access to all learners at all times. This can include video and audio files, accompanied by transcripts, a graphic image with descriptive text, or a written concept explained through a diagram or concept map. By creating materials, or selecting resources, that can be offered in multiple forms, learners can select the mode that best suits their learning needs at the time.
When selecting and posting online resources, ensure that they are accessible to everyone. All videos should include captions or have transcripts available, and audio files should also have a transcript. When posting assessment files, supporting documents, readings, or other resources, ensure the file is in an accessible format. If you require a textbook for the course, see if an accessible version can be made available, or if an accessible electronic version already exists. (See: Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities (AODA); Accessibility Rules for Educational Institutions (Ontario); Web Content Accessibility Guidelines - WCAG 2.0).
Any materials selected for the course should be relevant and support the learning outcomes, content, activities, and assessments of the course. The resources should provide the learner with opportunities to link concepts, establish new concepts and strategies, and solidify understanding. Your Liaison Librarian can assist with this.
VPAT's, or Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates, describes how a product or service features meet accessibility criteria of Section 508. Although this can be a good starting point for assessing the accessibility of product or service before incorporating it into your course, it is important to test all the functions of potential technologies. In testing consider the diversity of the learners that may enroll in the course, their needs and the potential adaptive technologies they may use to interact with the product and course environment. The Student Accessibility Services team can assist with this.
Consider options available through the Library and the Bookstore:
- Course Reserves: https://libguides.lakeheadu.ca/find/course-reserves
- Faculty Guide to Open Educational Resources: https://libguides.lakeheadu.ca/opentextbooks
- Copyright Information and Resources: https://libguides.lakeheadu.ca/copyright
- Liaison Librarians: https://libguides.lakeheadu.ca/contact-us/liaison-librarians
- Course Materials Order Form: https://bookstore.lakeheadu.ca/faculty
A learning activity is a task that engages the learner in the learning process, having them utilize or research appropriate information to build a foundation of knowledge or develop a skill set pertinent to the course learning outcomes.
Peer engagement in the face-to-face classroom is an important part of developing and creating confidence. Learners share learning and studying approaches, discuss and clarify assessments, develop communication skills, and diversify their perspectives. In the online environment, virtual discussions can foster similar engagement.
Both synchronous (real-time) and asynchronous (non-real-time) discussions can be conducted online, however, consider how each learner is able to use and engage with the mode you select. Asynchronous discussions allow for multiple modes of submissions. They give learners the opportunity to respond in a time that suits their schedules and an opportunity to digest and reflect before responding. Synchronous discussion allows instructors to address questions immediately, however, it may not be available to all learners depending on their availability, the platform hosting the discussion, and the availability of accessible features, like captions.
Completing a journal entry, blog, or weekly reflection helps keep learners engaged with the content and on track in the course. Weekly reflections allow learners to further explore their learning, investigate how it may be applicable to their lives, and reflect upon any difficulties they may have in a topic or section. As well, the entries, if available to the instructor, can provide insight into learners' progress through the course and be a connection point for discussion between instructor and learner.
Self-assessments encourage learners to look critically at their work and to assess their effort for completeness and quality. Peer-assessments expose the learner to the work of others, encouraging the development of a critical eye, deepening their knowledge on a topic and diversifying perspectives. By using the rubrics set by the instructor, the class becomes familiarized with the expectations and key considerations for a project and the rubric feedback is useful for future revisions.
Building pre-tests into the online environment can support learning by allowing learners to test their understanding without penalty. Feedback from this form of support directs them to areas of weakness that may need further review and can indicate useful support resources.
- “10 Alternatives to the Online Lecture”
- “15 Specific Activities to Promote Online Discussions”
- “Blogs, Wikis, and Discussion Boards”
- “14 Group Work and Collaboration Tools”
- “Increasing Student-to-Student Engagement Online”
- "16 Active-Learning Strategies Adapted for Online Learning"
- “Collaborative Authoring in the Online Classroom”
- “Collaborative Learning: 35 Strategies”
- “11 Fast and Easy Collaborative Activities”
- “13 Collaborative Learning Structures and Techniques” (Breakout rooms, Virtual Classoom, and/or Video Assignments can be useful tools for these collaborative activities)
- “DiRT: Digital Research Tools Wiki” links to 30+ categories of activity - excellent alternate assignments for university-level online learning
Assessments document and measure an individual learner's progress towards the learning outcomes of the course. Assessment methods may vary and include, but are not limited to, written tests or reports, presentations, activities, discussions, and exams.
Clearly developed learning outcomes will dictate the focus of your assessments. Constructing assessments that are directly aligned with the course learning outcomes allows the instructor to evaluate the learner's progress towards the learning outcomes and indicates to learners exactly what is expected of them.
Having a time limit imposed on learners in a testing environment can invoke test anxiety and increase the levels of stress associated with the assessment. When planning assessments within a course determine if time restrictions are necessary; are you looking to assess how quickly they can complete a task, or if they can complete it correctly? If time is not a key factor of the assessment, consider removing time limits or providing sufficient time for all learners eliminating the need to request special accommodations. If timed assessments are necessary, adjustments will need to be made for learners with accommodations. Keep in mind that learners will have different levels of connectivity to the online environment, individual differences in processing and performance times or may be using assistive technologies to interact with the assessment content.
When planning assessments consider breaking down large assignments into sections or utilizing more frequent smaller assessments. Courses with relatively few high-value assessments can be intimidating. Learners with time constraints, executive functioning challenges, or who may underperform in one assessment area, may struggle to successfully complete assignments and the course. Assessing learners more frequently and in a variety of ways helps them stay on top of coursework, to meet timelines and assignment dates, reduces the anxiety surrounding large assessments, and provides a status update on the learner's progress towards the learning outcomes.
Clearly articulated directions provide a guiding framework enabling learners to successfully meet the expectations of an assessment. Clear directions surrounding an assessment reduce confusion and lessen stress, allowing learners to move more productively towards the presented outcomes.
By allowing learners to present their opinions, as well as their understanding and knowledge in a manner of their own choosing, instructors can better assess a learner's progress within a course. However, depending on the outcomes learners are to achieve, not all assessments offer flexibility of choice. Nonetheless offering choice where possible allows learners to engage in the course in a way that suits their learning style and lets them present what they know to the best of their abilities. Consider whether your assessments can offer flexibility and choice in medium (e.g., written expression, video/audio recording, and graphics), topic, etc.
Rubrics clearly outline how a project or an assignment will be assessed by communicating the expectations surrounding each component and describing different levels of quality. With a rubric, instructors can ensure the assignment is aligned with course learning outcomes and create a valuable grading tool, ensuring consistency and structured feedback. For learners, rubrics lead to success, clarifying performance expectations and facilitating self-assessment according to the various criteria aligned to the assessment's learning outcomes. Note: If your rubric is in table format, ensure the table is offered in an accessible format.
Breaking down large assignments into smaller sections helps motivate learners and keeps them engaged and working in the online environment. By allowing learners to tackle smaller sections, the task is less daunting and more manageable. Receiving peer or instructor feedback provides monitored progress towards the assignment's goal and also promotes interactions with both peers and the instructor.
- “Authentic Assessment for Online Learning”
- “50+ Beyond-the Essay Rubrics”
- “Sample Rubrics for Online Discussion” (undergraduate & graduate)
- “Rubrics for Journals and Journaling”
- Online Strategies for Final Assessment
- “Strategies to Minimize Cheating Online”