Teaching & Learning
A course enhancement is a learning object or activity which helps communicate course content beyond readings and lectures. It usually engages the learner by presenting content in a more meaningful, memorable and stimulating way. Creating an online course opens up numerous possibilities of presenting the information, which has hitherto been constrained to classroom location, equipment and face-time. Use technology when appropriate and choose media types based on your learning objectives. For example, if motion or time-based sequencing are essential elements of the point you are teaching, choose motion motion video. Pick a suitable medium to communicate your ideas, so that your choice might help students understand the concept rather than introducing additional work or roadblocks to learning.
You may find ideas for various enhancements in the LearnDAT Showcase.
Course materials and technology
Online instructors have a variety of methods to provide information and instructions, including a textbook, PowerPoint presentations, links to websites, lecture notes, outlines, and multimedia. For example, a course may be richly furnished with external links to Internet resources, but it should be made clear whether those resources are for background information, personal enrichment, or required reading for an assignment.
Instructors should ensure that the level of difficulty of supporting materials is appropriate for the level of the course. Students should be able to easily determine the purpose of all materials, able to react to the technologies and methods used in the course, and be able to easily distinguish between “required” and “recommended” resources.
The material and instructions should aim to provide sufficient feedback and multiple methods of communications. With the push for accessibility, building universally designed course material not only helps you respond to accessibility requests but also provide regular students with additional methods for absorbing the information.
Alternatives and Contingencies
At some time during your course, technology may fail unexpectedly, e.g., a student's computer may crash, the network may go down, an online video won't play, or online quiz questions won't display. Provide contingency plans or options to deal with technology issues and include these plans in your syllabus or orientation sections.
Example of enhancements found on the web
Here are some great examples of multimedia course enhancements on the web which use a mixture of text, audio, visuals, feedback, and interactivity to enrich the learner’s experience:
- The Institute of Human Origins guides the user through the four million years of human evolution with their interactive documentary Becoming Human.
- Shakespeare: Subject to Change explains how the printing, editing and directing of Shakespeare's plays has created the version of Shakespeare we know today.
- Go through the process of making your own Bogolanfini (Mudcloth) with the Smithsonian Natural Museum of Natural History's African Voices exhibit Discovering Mudcloth.
- Edheads lets its user take the role of the surgeon throughout a total knee replacement surgery in Virtual Knee Surgery (kid and stomach friendly).
- The Missouri Historical Society traces the journey of Captains Lewis & Clark's expedition to the west coast of the United States with an online exhibition.
- Boston uses the interactive Beyond the Big Dig to outline its plans for the space freed after moving its elevated Central Artery highway underground.
- The Thomas Jefferson Foundation offers the Monticello Explorer for vistors to virtually tour the Thomas Jefferson's plantation estate.
- Yin Yu Tang is an exploration of the history and architecture of a Chinese house where a family lived for eight generations.
- National Geographic has a easy visual explanation of the New York's city infrastructure in New York Underground.
- The Dynamic Earth by the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History explores the dynamic forces which forms the minerals, rocks and shape of Earth and the Solar System.
- Timeline Creator can help you create an interactive timeline for your course.
- Try out the Visual Thesaurus or the CIA Factbook relation browser to see how ideas can be linked together.
- Winners of the International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge