Program Development, Implementation and Evaluation: Lessons Learned at the University of Wisconsin-Stout

Article excerpt

If you are considering developing or participating in an online program like the University of Wisconsin-Stout's Bachelor of Science in Career, Technical Education and Training program, here are some elements to consider.

Program Development

Do the program developers have experience in distance learning philosophies and techniques? Consider asking what or how much experience the course facilitator has in applying distance education learning methodologies. It takes skill and finesse to develop and deliver effective online learning experiences, not just converting and offering face-to-face classes for online environments. If you are considering developing online learning, is there sufficient time to construct an online class? Does the program have a systematic plan for the development and use of various materials and methodologies? Do sufficient resources, including economic, design expertise and labor exist to assist you in your endeavors? If the answer is yes, you will be able to build stable and effective online programs.

If any of these elements are lacking, you might have trouble during the developmental phase. If there is not sufficient economic support to allow faculty the time they need for the developmental phase, the course might not have all the elements necessary for a truly effective learning experience. Preparing online learning requires well-planned, organized and structured activities that actively engage learners in the process of discovering answers during exposure to various educational processes. If the individual or individuals developing online courses do not have the support of an instructional design specialist who can assist in transitioning various course experiences from face-to-face formats to online learning, the course delivery might not be smooth or effective for the facilitator or learner alike.

Finally, the transition to online programming and course delivery depends on having the human capital necessary for offering the various content areas. No one person is a content expert for all courses required within online programming; it is imperative to the success of any online endeavor that faculty and staff employ teamwork and collegiality during the development of required program coursework.

Implementation

Once courses are developed, it is important to consider piloting them to assure that all the elements of the course are functioning correctly. Small pilot groups can provide formative input for the course facilitator regarding what is and isn't working as part of their learning experience. For example, directions for an assignment or an evaluation rubric might be unclear. Correcting these design flaws and providing clarity prior to the full course running can help avoid potential problems.

As a learner, you have an opportunity to give crucial input into the design process, which can ultimately enhance your own learning experience. The intrinsic rewards of this process can be immense while knowing that you have shaped a program or course offering for those participants who follow. As future teacher educators, it can be extremely satisfying to experience the various processes firsthand, and to recognize that they are the same processes you will undertake during your own course development or teacher preparation. …