Principles of Design for Online Learning: A Short Guide

Oftentimes teachers have little choice in the learning management system (LMS) their school district uses.

Indeed, I’ve often found the LMS to be the central stumbling block to good online design.

Common LMSs (2012)

In (general) order of use, the most common LMSs in primary education are:

  • Schoology
  • Moodle
  • Blackboard
  • Itslearning
  • Schoology
  • Sakai
  • Infrastructure

Because each LMS is built on (oftentimes) widely different platforms, I wanted to present some general rules that can apply to when building courses in them.

Rules of Thumb

  1. Provide clear structure: When possible, provide a clear structure and outline your students can follow on a daily basis. Remember the rules of thumb for text.
  2. Lots of white space: White space makes it easier for student to read.
  3. Limited text: In the normal structure of the class – use limited text.
  4. Remember aesthetics:  Ugly classes are won’t get used. You may like orange and purple together, but as a general rule your students will not.
  5. Concise directions: Just like in the classroom.
  6.  Limited clicks: The more clicks it takes to get something done, the more likely students will jump ship.
  7. Chunk the information: For cognitive reasons.
  8. Story telling: For cognitive reasons
  9. Informal writing style
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