Training Educators to Design and Develop ODL Materials/Content Development Methodology for ODL
|Work in progress, expect frequent changes. Help and feedback is welcome. See discussion page.|
|Workshop Modules||Principles of ODL | ID Models | Needs Analysis | Developing Learners’ Profile | Methods of Delivery | Content Development Methodology for ODL | Types of Assessment in ODL | Developing a Student Guide | Relevant Technologies | Course Evaluation | Other Key Issues|
- 1 Module 6: Developing Content for Open & Distance Learning
- 2 Module Objectives
- 3 Reflection
- 4 Reflection
- 5 Reflection
- 6 Reflection
- 7 Assignment
- 8 Summary
Module 6: Developing Content for Open & Distance Learning
Distance Education materials are quite easy to develop if you have the necessary skills. As you work on preparing materials you will become increasingly proficient and recognize how easy the task of preparing ODL materials is for educators like you.
In this module you will be exposed to examples of best practices and recommended techniques for developing distance education materials. You will also explore the rudiments of structuring content which facilitates independent learning and an interactive, enjoyable experience for the learner. This process will involve practical interactive exercises.
Over the years institutions such as the UK Open University and other open learning institutions around the world have suggested some proven practices for developing ODL materials. In this section of the workshop you will get the opportunity to review some existing ODL materials. This will give you a good picture of what you will be creating during the rest of the workshop.
Key Features of ODL Materials
1. Learning Objectives
Learning objectives are important for developing self-instructional materials. The following presentation highlights critical information that should be closely observed when preparing learning objectives for open and distance learning.
To view the presentation please click on the link below.
2. Interactivity Assessment & Feedback
This is one of the most critical aspects in developing ODL materials. Here is a brain teaser for you.
Brain Bumper - Use your knowledge of types of assessment tools to classify each of following as INTERACTIVE or NON-INTERACTIVE:
- multiple choice
Below is a presentation for your viewing, please pay close attention to the information and suggestions given.
3. Distance Education Writing Style
3.1 Simple Language
Your course materials may be well-planned and constructed, but may be ineffective if the language used is not appropriate to the learner population. This section provides some suggestions for writing in an accessible way. It is important that you consider the following guidelines:
- Write in very simple language (KISS principle)
- Use vocabulary appropriate to your target group (Remember English is a 2nd or 3rd language for most learners)
- Keep to one idea per paragraph
- Eliminate unnecessarily long phrases and sentenced by using one word (E.g.Use "Many" instead of a large number)
- Use familiar words
- Use relevant examples
- Use precise words
- Use strong active verbs (eg. "You may use scissors" instead of "Scissors may be used")
- Choose your structures (simplify sentences, keep them short, limit the use of negatives, watch your word order)
3.2 Learner-friendly Style (conversational)
It is important and desirable when creating ODL materials that you create a warm, learner-friendly environment for your learners. Below are additional tips that are useful in doing this.
- Make the materials as readable and accessible to as wide an audience as possible
- Be consistent in writing - users become familiar with your writing style
- Use a more informal style of writing (eg, refer to yourself as "I")
- Speak directly to the learner and call your learner "you"
- Use the kind of tone you might use in a one-to-one conversation (conversational tone)
- Include humour where possible
- Use gender sensitive language (rather use they, them instead of he/she, etc.)
- Use bulleted lists where possible
Using access devices can create a more pleasant experience for learners by making it easier for them to navigate throughout the information or content. The following list of access devices can be useful in achieving this.
(i) Before the Main Body of the Unit/Section include:
- Explanatory title
- Contents list
- Flow diagrams
- List of objectives
(ii) During the Unit/Section include:
- Headings and sub-headings
- Numbering system
- Verbal signposting (don't just tell your learners what you are telling them - tell them why you are telling it)
- Visual signposts (icons, layout and structure should be apparent where possible)
(iii) After the Unit/Section include:
- Motivational chat
- Linking statements
3.4 Physical Features of ODL Materals
It is imperative that you keep your learner in mind by considering how your material will appear physically on each page. The following tips do not only enhance the appearance of your materials but it enhances readibility and understanding by your learners.
- White margins and white space (give space for learners to make notes in the margin and to answer SMAs, ITQs)
- Notional hours ought to be included(assume the time it would take the average learner to complete a Unit/Section - this is done to avoid overloading)
- Keywords (to explain technical terms, new concepts, difficult words - decide where to include your keywords)
- Graphics and illustrations (to break monotony, makes materials interesting and appealing)
- Icons (develop own set - remove the need for repeated written instructions)
- Summaries and linking statements
Structuring a Unit
It is important to break content up into manageable chunks to facilitate independent learning. Most ODL courses are normally subdivided into units that usually correspond to a week's work. In print, each unit is like a chapter of a book. On the web, units usually correspond to one subdivision of the course web site. This part looks at the structure of a typical unit. Good self-study materials usually have three key stages:
- explaining what the unit will be about (through the use of an introduction and a list of learning objectives)
- conducting the session (this is the bulk of the unit where learning objectives are addressed and teaching and learning mostly takes place)
- reminding learners what the unit was all about and checking whether they have learnt the content (a common way to do this is to provide a self-mark activity and a summary of key points in the unit). The Commonwealth of Learning proposes the following components at each stage of the unit structure:
- Unit number and title
- Contents list
- Statement of pre-requisite knowledge (or pre-test)
- Learning objectives for unit
- List of any equipment needed for studying the unit
- Other resources needed for studying the unit (e.g., a textbook)
- Time required for the unit
Teaching and activities
- Explanatory text
- Activities with feedback
- Diagrams and illustrations
- Topic summaries
This stage is usually divided into topics, each matching one learning objective
- unit summary
- self-mark activity (based on the unit learning objectives)
- link forward to the next unit
Links to Useful Resources