Online education is for instructors, too.
I would estimate that 80% of the best things I did as a classroom teacher were “borrowed” from somebody else. They came from books, online resources, workshops… Very few ideas were straight out of my head. I did invent “Periodic Table Battleship” while in the shower one morning, pondering how to make Electron Configurations a less boring topic. I was really pleased with myself but later found online that I wasn’t the first to think of this. Ego-bummer.
The growing presence of MOOCs, (Massive Open Online Courses) on the web has opened a new, high-quality resource to you. A MOOC is a free course, completely online, usually around 6 weeks long. They are increasingly being offered by “traditional” institutions like Stanford, MIT, Ohio State… The MOOC movement is about making their content public for the world, and a MOOC is a great place for you to get ideas of what you would like to do in your own courses. This is especially true if you want to increase the online content of your course but have no idea what that would look like. What better way to learn what an online course can do than to take one? The experience of being an online student will make you aware of the types of things you should and shouldn’t do in your own course.
By taking a MOOC in your own content, you will find new materials, new resources, new ways of looking at the same tasks, and new strategies that you never would have thought of on your own. The open format of a MOOC means that you can choose how much time you want to devote to the course, although one benefit of a MOOC is the high level of resource-sharing, and the more effort you put into the course, the more reward you will get out of it.
A good place to start looking into this is at https://www.coursera.org/ . Coursera is the host of almost 200 MOOCs, from 33 universities worldwide. Go to their site, look through their list of courses, and see what they have to offer you. They even tell you what the expected time commitment is for each course, so you know what you’re getting into. I’m starting a course on creating Andriod apps soon, and I might take “The Science of Gastronomy” from The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Mmm… gluten formation and protein denaturing.
Another source is from the Canvas Network from Instracture. The have a smaller offering, but a wide variety, and you get a peek at their Blackboard-rivaling LMS.
For the Steve Jobs fans out there, look at iTunesU on the App Store. Browse the free “courses” — bundles of resources, both text and video, posted by universities and organizations world-wide.
For some stats on taking and teaching MOOCs…
This infographic comes from onlinecollegecourses.com.