As you design your online courses, keep in mind that there is a possibility that you will reuse the content in other semesters which may be longer or shorter. For instance, you initially design an online course to be taught within six weeks and you have modules named week one through six. In another, shorter semester (such as a summer semester), you may need to offer it for a three-week period. To avoid the hassle of changing all the time parameters, here are some suggestions that may make your work easier.
- If you want to provide a timeframe for students, use the syllabus or a separate calendar to do so. Try not to use other specific dates in your course content. You will find that it is going to be annoying and tedious to change them later on.
- Create folders not for particular weeks, but for “units” or “modules”, preferably around a particular theme. That way, you can configure your pace of covering these units more easily if the duration of teaching changes.
- Try to avoid mentioning of particular dates in your texts, especially in the attachments, which you would need to download, change, and then re-upload. Instead, use the “modify” tool or “selective release tool” to control the release of your content or activities.
- Anticipate text book updates, so it is sometimes a good idea not to mention chapter 1, 2, or 3, if there is a possibility that chapter 1 will become chapter 2 in the next edition. For written text, it is fairly easily to change, but be especially careful if you are want to record your lecture in video or audio formats. You basically cannot change such references without recording them again.
Another not so related thing to watch for is to specify the time zone you will be using (Central Time) if you do have to use dates and time for specific activities (such as exams) as students may be in a different time zone especially during the summer vacation.