Designing a Course Homepage

Online learning continues to evolve as an educational option and learning management systems for institutions and instructors provide options for design. The distance-learning courses of past years that required closed-circuit television and mail-in lessons are quickly being replaced as technology advances. 

In approaching the format for online learning, the homepage for each course should be visual and easily navigated (Horton, 2012). Students have greater success if the material is easy to access and clearly designated by icons. Ideally, a course focuses on the student by providing him/her with the necessary tools to navigate the course and meet the learning objectives (Horton, 2012). 

In designing the homepage I would consider using a connectivist learning theory which addresses a variety of learners that may include those entering fields that are different than their previous training (Siemens, 2004).  Instructional learning would also be integrated in this course to fulfill the “absorb” activities identified by Horton (2012) and reduce learner's frustration in trying to find and learn new information. Video lectures would be easily accessed by an icon and remain available through the course for reference. The concept of providing solutions in the early stages of learning instead of "discovering" would be applied as part of the learning theory (Sweller, Kirschner, Clark, 2007). I adhere to the idea that “problem-solving search imposes a heavy extraneous cognitive load” and would integrate examples and sources as part of the learning (Sweller, et al., p. 116).

Create your own mind maps at MindMeister

The title of the course would be visual with images in the background.

The course description and prerequisites would be identified allowing prospective students to determine if the course is a good fit for them and fulfill their needs. This addresses the concepts of andragogy, in that adult learners are actively involved in their educational choices (Knowles, 2005).

A "Start Here" icon would identify what the student needs to do first and address issues of online behavior on forums and plagarism. From there the student would be directed to the syllabus to read and become familiar with.

The syllabus would include a course schedule, textbooks, and grading policy. Useful links and examples would also be included that would address the needs of students not familiar with the subject and meet the needs of the connectivist learning theory (Siemens, 2004) as well as preventing the “heavy extraneous cognitive load” described by Sweller, et al. (2007).

Video lectures will address the need for absorbing information and present examples, fulfilling the basic need to gather knowledge before applying it. The video lectures would also supply a type of scaffolding for learners to see the solutions to the problems in writing, understand them and then apply them to their own writing (Sweller, et al., 2007). 

Homework assignments would then give learners the opportunity to apply the techniques they have absorbed (Overbaugh, n.d.).  The feedback from the instructor would be a critical part of the Homework, supplying the architcture on “accumulating integrated knowledge in long-term memory” (Sweller, et al., 2007).

Discussion forums would be a means for students to connect with other students and share ideas or concerns meeting the needs of adult learners. The overall Homepage would be visually appealing and intuitive.


Horton, W. (2012). E-Learning by Design.  San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer

Knowles, M. H. (2005). The Adult Learner. San Diego, Ca: Elsevier.

Overbaugh, R. & Schultz, L. (n.d.). Bloom’s Taxonomy. Retrieved fromhttp://ww2.odu.edu/educ/roverbau/Bloom/blooms_taxonomy.htm

Siemens, G. (2004). Conncetivism: A learning theory for the digital age. Elearnspace. Retrieved from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

Sweller, J, Kirschner, P., & Clark, R. (2007). Why minimally guided Teaching Techniques do not work; A reply to Commentaries. Educational Psychologist, 42(2). 

1 comment:

  1. Nicely done, Deila. Good use of a current theoretical frame for your course design.

    What would you need to incorporate into your course design that would allow you test if your were using the correct theoretical orientation?

    How would you counter an objection that, rather than imposing an extraneous cognitive load, problem based searching is the essence of independent cognitive development? What evidence beyond Sweller et al. (2007)would you cite to refute the objection.


Disqus for Online Learning