Key Questions for Online Courses


Keeping the Students Interested

  • Am I communicating what excites me about the topic?
  • What can I add to make the students feel there is something of real value to them in this class or module?
  • Have I made the inherent motivation clear? Will the student say,, "Learning this is of direct benefit/interest to me?"
  • Have I included external motivates and/or do I need them? Will the student say, "If I do Y I will get 100 points, my social status will increase, I receive extra privileges or notoriety."
    Humor, clear writing, and good graphic design can also be external motivators.
    However, humor must be used cautiously. As Jim'bo Norrena, senior academic marketing specialist at Peachpit Pre,s says, "I've always believed 'Online Stand-up Comedy' to be about the worst idea ever presented to mankind."
  • Is there something I can do to make the module more interactive?
  • Should I add collaborative assignments to create a greater sense of community so the student feels supported and engaged?
  • How can I set uniform objectives but still honor the individual approaches of the students?
  • How can I accommodate different learning styles: Hear, see, and do?
  • Is this course culturally sensitive? Have I presented the information in a way that respects diverse opinions and beliefs?

Obstacles to Learning

  • Is the subject material presented in such a way that students might perceive it as "too hard" and beyond their capability?
  • Does the class erode self-confidence?
  • Are the course prerequisites clear?
  • Is the graphic layout interfering with the content?
  • Are the pages accessible according to the guidelines of the W3? (See module 8 on Web design and accessability)


  • How can I maximize the amount of feedback the student receives?
  • Is the feedback the student receives immediate, clear and constructive?
  • Does the feedback the student receives promote the students learning?
  • Does the feedback help students to complete the assignment?
  • How will I handle the students expectation for immediate feedback.

Media Selection

  • What type of Internet connections will the students have?
  • Will they be able to see video, hear audio, and download graphics?
  • Will rich media (sound, graphics, video) enhance this course? How?
  • How will rich media (sound, graphics, video) detract from the course?
  • Will rich media be too cumbersome for the user to download? Is it too expensive/difficult to develop?

Leveraging Technology

  • How can I use communication tools, such as: email, listserv, chat rooms and bulletin boards, Web pages, graphics, streaming media (video/audio) and interactive multimedia tutorials- so the students will achieve the learning objectives?
  • What can I do on the Internet that I canít do in other mediums?
  • How do I utilize Internet to create a context for learning?
  • The Internet is a huge resource for data, but how can I help students transform data into knowledge?
  • What is the most difficult aspect of teaching online for me? How can I make that easier?
Table of Contents
Developing an Effective Online Class
© 2001 Valerie Landau 2001. All rights reserved.