An e-learning/online course is, at its heart, a multimedia project; it incorporates text, graphics, images, audio, and video elements into an end-user product that seeks to substitute for, enhance, and/or improve upon face-to-face instruction. As such, skill in multimedia design and production are essential for the would-be online course designer. As multimedia expert Tay Vaughan writes,
The design part of your project is where your knowledge and skill with computers; your talent in graphic arts, video, and music; and your ability to conceptualize logical pathways through information are all focused to create the real thing. Design is thinking, choosing, making, and doing. It is shaping, smoothing, reworking, polishing, testing, and editing. When you design your project, your ideas and concepts are moved one step closer to reality. Competence in the design phase is what separates amateurs from professionals in the making of multimedia (2015).
I am now deep in the design/development phase of an online course, and I am learning several valuable lessons that will hopefully lead me toward future competency and proficiency in the medium. First, and perhaps most obvious, is a need for more detailed planning. My instructional design document was well constructed, produced, and received, but as I am finding out now, several key elements were left out and/or insufficient to support all elements of the course. For example, advanced planning in project navigation would have saved time in development; I am instead in a process of production, editing, and revising the structure of the course. Second, and along the same lines, specific external resources should have been vetted and selected before production. For example, I have just recently decided to integrate Flipgrid (a video discussion platform) into my course, and as a result am making several significant changes to course content and structure. Finally, written content should have been produced ahead of time, setting the story upon which other media elements support instruction through the course. As Vaughn (2015) writes, “the more planning on paper, the better and easier it will be to construct the project”.
Despite the slow-going nature of the “jump right in” approach to course development, I am discovering and leveraging several strengths that will result in satisfactory course production now and in the future. First, the course structure and user interface are shaping up to be very clean and intuitive; a “less is more” approach is guiding design choices, and appears to be well-received. Second, multimedia elements, such as images and videos, are effectively produced and integrated throughout the course in a manner that should support student learning. Finally, my willingness to explore and integrate new and emerging tools and technologies, such as Flipgrid, will result in a more engaging, interactive, and relevant learning experience.
Vaughan, T. (2015). Multimedia: Making It Work. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.