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Design Your Online Economics Course with Connect® Based on the Quality in Online Learning Certification

We interviewed University of Nebraska instructor, Laurie Miller, about planning your course with Connect.

How would you recommend a new faculty member get started?

“Start by reviewing the Connect® Content Matrix in the instructor resources. This is title-specific and lays out what is covered along with assignment types for each topic and learning objectives.

From the Content Matrix, identify the course and module-level learning objectives. For each module-level learning objective, determine which learning activities and assessments you will use. This exercise will help make sure your course is properly aligned to learning objectives.

*This is a time-consuming process, but it will also help you visualize how you will structure your course for your students.”

What are some of the standards you need to keep in mind?

“Communication, Interaction/Engagement, and Accessibility are standards that must be kept in mind when teaching online.

Communication takes many forms in an online course. Clear expectations for the students, consistency with assessments, and directed announcements/emails are all ways that instructors can actively communicate with students in an online class.

Interaction is one of the most important aspects of online learning. Intentional and consistent interaction should lead to more engagement. Engagement is really hard to create and sustain in the online setting but Connect polling and collaboration tools help engage students.

One standard related to accessibility that stood out the most to me from the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) was that in an online learning framework, all disabilities are invisible. It is important that we as instructors understand this when we are designing our courses and the course materials we use.”

What specific Connect tools would you recommend using?

“With the Asarta Butters text, I LOVE LOVE LOVE the following resources:

1. Assignable Content Videos: This "book" was created in a video setting - these videos do the "lecturing.”

2. LearnSmart Achieve: These are adaptive learning assessments that are specific to the individual student. You set the content and how in-depth you want a student to go and the assignment creates a specialized learning path for each student.

3. Exercises: These are what I consider to be the online version of an "old school" problem set. These can include multiple-choice, graphing, numerical, and other types of problems for the student to solve.

The three above are mandatory to use in my opinion. These facilitate the basic fundamental knowledge that students need to be successful in the course.

In addition to these three, I really like the Application-Based Activities.”

Using Bloom’s Tool for Principles of Economics, please speak to how you can offer your students a variety of resources, as well as hit on several different levels of Bloom’s Tool—taking them from memorization through application and analysis?

"The mandatory learning activities outlined in the previous question cover almost all of Bloom’s Levels.

Videos and LearnSmart align with the lower order thinking skills of remembering, understanding, and applying.

Exercises hit those skills as well, but also move along to higher-order thinking skills, such as analyzing. Application-Based Activities go even further and include evaluating.

This is a great mix of learning activities to span the Bloom’s Taxonomy. The way I set up my course, students start with lower-order activities and build-up to the higher order.

It's important to have a solid foundation in concepts before you can start analyzing and evaluating. A challenge for economics instructors is to convince students that they can't memorize economics. Economics is a way of thinking, and they will apply economic concepts to many new and unfamiliar situations. If students just memorize a few economic definitions, they will not be able to analyze or evaluate a new or unfamiliar situation.”