The purpose of this unit is to help you begin to realize how to create a weekly schedule for your online course.
The Course Schedule is an overall course calendar that summarizes the course activities. The course calendar usually needs fine-tuning to ensure a balanced course design. A balanced course design builds in balanced dialogue, a range of individual and group activities, and synchronous and asynchronous events. Learners use this course calendar to integrate their life events over the term of a course. We recommend structuring the course as weeks following your topics. This provides a clear timetable. When you create your weekly schedule make sure learners have enough weekly online activities.
When you schedule your learning activities/assessments for your online course, you need to consider how you can help students learn as quickly and efficiently as possible, but also minimize their forgetting. In 1885 Hermann Ebbinghaus found we have not only a “learning curve” (where people take time to learn in the first place), but also a “forgetting curve” (where we lose what we learn if we don’t use it regularly).
Space your activities by breaking them up into a number of short sessions – over a longer period of time. Humans and animals learn items more effectively when they are studied in several sessions spread out over a long period of time, rather than studied repeatedly in a short period of time, a phenomenon called the spacing effect.
Spacing your activities is more effective than doing them in long concentrated blocks. Spacing is often overlooked since students and teachers commonly over-estimate how much has been learned, after a concentrated blocks of learning.
Predictable Weekly Schedule
The weekly schedule for on campus classes revolves around scheduled classes. These classes serve well as “pacing events” and accountability reminders for students. Regular weekly assignments and activities keep students engaged with the course content. Students find that a weekly rhythm for an online course provides similar benefits in keeping learners engaged without a physical gathering place. Is there an “ideal weekly rhythm?” Not really, but a predictable weekly plan guides the learning experience and communicates expectations for both faculty and students.
For example, an online discussion opens with a problem, question, or challenge on Monday, requiring an initial posting or response by Thursday and comments on other students’ posting by Saturday or Sunday. The faculty member then commits to commenting, summarizing on the posts by the following Monday.
Online students have busy schedules with competing responsibilities, such as parenting, working, and other life events. So, it’s critical to design your online course with a predictable weekly schedule. This will make you and your students lives easier.
A weekly schedule makes expectations clear and helps students plan their daily personal and work life. It also helps to set those clear expectations that an online course requires regular commitments and interaction. Note the schedule categorizes activities into individual and group activities and also suggests weekly collaborative times when the instructor might be available by phone, IM, or live classroom time.
Unit 6 Practice
Complete the following activity: Unit 6 Practice: The Predictable Weekly Schedule
Unit 6 Reflection & Badge
Complete the following Unit 6 self-assessment: The Predictable Weekly Schedule Badge