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ELT article published by Prof. Jonathan Acua at http://reflective-online-teaching.blogspot.


Transforming a F2F Course Outline into an Online Course Outline

When an online course outline is compared to its F2F counterpart, the instructor can be quite surprised by the amount of differences that can be found. However, these differences can be used in both teaching scenarios, but they seem to be crucial to accomplish learning goals with onlinelearning students. To start with, no matter what teaching scenario the instructor is facing, the course syllabus states learners and instructors responsibilities. These responsibilities imply the following: 1 The online course syllabus clearly defines participation. That is, students and instructors understand in terms of participation- how often it is expected from them to be checking the learning platform

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and interacting with the rest of the class. Additionally, it sets the minimum participation required to get credit for their final grades and the number of minimum interactions with their peers. Somehow, in this section, it is expected that learners respond to teachers questions to expand their ideas and thoughts beyond the initial respond.

In a F2F class, instructors are somehow limited to control the amount of student participation. Students who are introverted, timid, or reserved can have a limited way of interaction with peers in class. In a VLE these kinds of learners can gain their voice easily.
2 The online course syllabus provides students with a clear credit/grade correlation. Each learning task, forum discussion, assignment, and reflection is given a certain amount of credit that gets transformed in the bits and pieces of the learners final course grade. This information has to be available for them, so they can keep track of what they are and arent doing. To ensure that all tasks are carried out on time, the instructor ought to always send students friendly reminders of what they have to have ready based on deadlines.

Even though this credit/grade correlation is provided in F2F teaching scenarios, it is a bit more difficult to keep track of what students are or are not doing on their own. If students are absent from class and fail to communicate with their peers, they may miss deadlines and consequently lose vital learning experiences and points to pass the course.

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The online course syllabus will also include information on how the course will work. For instance, it needs to include the way in which student-instructor will occur. Depending on the learning platform that is being used to host the course, the instructor can send collective mails or individual notifications to students, and vice versa. Furthermore, the LMS can also give room for communication among peers by means of chats or forums as well. And let us not forget that part of how the course will work has to do with the frequency of teacher-student communication.

Oftentimes students on F2F learning environments are not very clear on how course communication is going to be carried out. Most of this communication takes place in the classroom rather than outside. And needless to mention the fact that several instructors do not have student attention hours to help learners with their course work and assignments.
To adapt a F2F course outline to be fully functional in a VLE, the instructor needs to pay attention to the following differences. Online Course Outline - A clear purpose connection for both students and instructors. - Provision of links to supportive online material before, during, and after the course is taken. F2F Course Outline - A clear purpose connection for both students and instructors. - Provision of links to supportive material needs to be done during the course since paper course

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outline cannot be modified. - Availability of syllabus from the very beginning of the course at the entrance of course site or platform to be referred back as necessary. - Modeling of instructional planning with the sequence of alreadyplanned activities, reflections, forums, and the like. - Provision of paper syllabus from day one in class, which can be easily misplaced because it is just a loose leaf. - Modeling of instructional planning with the information provided by professor on learning activities s/he wants students to execute along the course, -at times. [Usual modeling takes place in class.] - Encouragement of the development of essential study track of course pacing for learning activities based on deadlines. - Description of the proper order of completion for weekly learning activities. - Not a full description of the proper order of completion for learning activities and assessment during the course, although a chronogram is supplied. - Lists of acceptable formats for naming styles of papers. - No lists of acceptable formats for naming styles of papers. assignments as well as the preferred assignments or the preferred - Encouragement of the development of essential study

skills, such as time management and skills, such as time management.

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The rationale to support these changes in a F2F course outline to transform it into an effective online course outline relies on the fact a virtual learning/teaching scenario differs in the way the course is delivered and planned. Online learning has certain characteristics that are not necessarily shared with F2F classes, as pointed out in the chart above. The migration of a F2F course outline into an online one needs to take into account the gap between distant education [online learning] and a regular course in a classroom [in situ education]. Failing to comprehend this difference and overlooking the differences stated above foresee a disastrous learning and teaching experience for teachers and students.

To fully develop and comprehend this teaching issue, its advisable to research and expand these areas: 1 2 3 4 5 Writing a course syllabus Supportive online materials in VLEs Instructional planning Essential study skills in VLEs Time management in online learning

ELT article published by Prof. Jonathan Acua at

Professor Jonathan Acua-Solano ELT Instructor & Trainer based in Costa Rica IATEFL Member and NCTE Affiliate Resource Teacher at CCCN Senior ELT Professor at Universidad Latina Freelance ELT Consultant four OUP in Central America For further comments or suggestions, reach me at: @jonacuso Twitter Gmail Other blogs and sites I often write for my students at the university are: 1. Pronunciation 1 3. Pronunciation 2 2. Readding Skills 1 4. Computering Applications in Education