Introduction to Online and Blended Instruction

Introduction to Online and Blended Instruction



Welcome to the introductory module for online teaching. This module is intended to orient you to online teaching and learning, as well as provide more details on Xavier's process for developing online and blended courses.

Once you've gone through the components of this module, you'll complete a quiz that includes questions related to each section.

  IOCD and Course Development

Introduction to Online Course Design (IOCD) is a training course developed and administered by the Center for Teaching Excellence and the Instructional Design team. The course is fully online so faculty participating can experience online learning from the student perspective. Like other online courses, IOCD includes content and assignments, including participation in discussion boards and other collaborative activities.

  Watch This About the course and the development process
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View an example of the IOCD course syllabus (Word doc)

Once the course begins, you'll find the current syllabus with due dates in the Blackboard course shell, but this version will give you a general idea of the content covered, activities, and course policies.

  Design Considerations for blended & online instruction

Designing an online course isn't all that different from designing a traditional, face-to-face course. You will need to create the outcomes for your course, select activities that will enable students to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to meet those outcomes, and plan how you will assess whether students have met the outcomes. While the course design process you will learn in IOCD can be utilized in your future design of any course, a rigorous course design process is even more crucial in an online course due to:

  • the need to direct students down a single path through the learning environment
  • the limited ability to adapt on the fly as you might in a traditional classroom
  • the use of a different set of activities online, creating a greater need for clarity and communication, and
  • the different ways you will need to communicate with your students and build a sense of community now that you will no longer meet in a classroom.

The following content areas will walk you through some of the primary design considerations particular to online and blended courses.

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Misconceptions about online learning

From the fall of 2010 to the fall of 2011, the number of students taking at least one course online grew by 9.3 percent, pushing the total over 6.7 million, according to the Babson Survey Research Group's latest annual survey of more than 2,500 colleges and universities. During that time, the proportion of students taking at least one course online also reached an all-time high of 32 percent, according to the survey, which has shown years of steady growth in online education over its 10-year history. (View survey) The interest in online courses has also been strong at Xavier. In the 2011-2012 school year, a total of about 488 students enrolled in the 30 online or blended course sections that were offered.

But what is online learning like? This section addresses common misconceptions about online learning, both from the student and faculty perspectives.

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Delivery methods

There are a variety of methods for delivering courses at Xavier. The method you decide for your course will have implications for the course design process and for your students. You will need to provide the Registrar's office with your selected course delivery method so that students will know what to expect when they enroll.

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Universal Design

Universal design refers to the creation of products and services, in our case instructional materials, that are usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible. For example, universally designed content includes captioning, which benefits not just the disabled, by allowing:

  • a deaf individual to know what is being said in a video,
  • a student in the library to review an online video clip without needing speakers or headphones, or
  • a person in a crowded waiting area to follow a news broadcast.

This section describes three components of universal design important to online learning:

  • Usability
  • Accessibility
  • Use of technology

  Sample Online Course

What does an online course look like? Structural elements of online courses may look quite different from traditional, face-to-face courses. In addition, good online course design is very intentional about building community among students, promoting active learning through content delivery and assignments, and providing a welcoming and orienting interface. In the following video, Dr. Mack Mariani, associate professor of political science, provides a guided tour of his online course, POLI 140 Introduction to American Politics, describing the choices he made to enhance the learning experience for students.


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Guided Tour of Introduction to American Politics

  The Online Course Heuristics

The attached heuristic was designed to articulate Xavier's expectations for good online courses. It is important for faculty developing online courses to work with this checklist throughout the course design process. IOCD and the Instructional Design team will provide guidance for understanding the standards articulated in the heuristic and will assist faculty in developing courses that meet these expectations.


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View the heuristic checklist (PDF)

  Knowledge Check

Ready for the quiz? If you've completed all sections of this introductory module, please complete the quiz below.


Take This Quiz

Take the quiz


Next Steps

Now that you've completed the introductory module, if you are interested in begin the online or blended course design process, please submit the eLearning Intent Form. This will certify your completion of this module and inform the Instructional Design team of your interest. Next, complete the eLearning Course Development Proposal Form (PDF), in conjunction with your department chair.

If you have completed the introductory module but are not yet ready to begin the online or blended course design process, please indicate that on the eLearning request form. We will retain the certification that you have completed the introductory module, which will remain valid for the following 12 months.



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