Distance learning courses are a highly adaptable form of education that can be extremely simple or equally complicated. At its most basic, creating a distance learning course can be accomplished with text or multimedia assignments, e-mailed from teacher to student and returned the same way. For teachers with a more polished distance learning portal, assignments might be more interactive. In both cases, it is important for the creator of a distance learning course to carefully develop ways to increase student participation in a nontraditional setting.
Develop your curriculum. The options for distance learning curriculum are limitless and, in many cases, can be similar to the curriculum used in a traditional classroom setting. However, textbooks, workbooks, extra reading and other assignments should be optimized for independent study, meaning the student can easily complete all assignments with minimal oversight from the instructor. This can be accomplished by using workbooks with clearly numbered problem sets or by simply elucidating a set number of pages to be completed.
Create accountability. Accountability is even more important in distance learning courses than it is in a traditional class because teachers will be less able to physically verify that a student is completing the requisite assignments. Assign problem sets based on readings, make interactivity count towards the student's grade and pull test questions specifically from information in the assignments. You can also attempt to establish an honor system whereby students verify verbally or in writing that they have completed the assignments.
Create a system for regular interaction with students. The success of a distance learning program depends on students and teachers being able to communicate quickly and thoroughly, as needed. In the most basic courses, e-mail and phone availability may be sufficient. Teachers who prefer a more intense level of interaction might instead wish to establish regular "virtual classroom" sessions where the teacher and students can interact via chat or video-conference.
Establish a clear syllabus. In distance learning courses, when a student may not receive regular reminders from the teacher after each class of upcoming assignments, it is important that all assignment, paper and test due dates (as well as late submission policies) are clearly laid out at the beginning of the class.
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