Implementing a 'design for online' approach for engineering courses

Jennifer M. Mansfield, Terry Alford, N. David Theodore

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


The steady growth of enrollments in online higher education courses has prompted many institutions to explore ways of putting their content online. A common method has been to record face-to-face (f2f) lectures and make those videos and corresponding materials available to distance students through a Learning Management System. Few additional measures are taken to increase the levels of engagement and interaction for online students. This model still designs instruction with f2f students as the primary audience. Online students to be observers rather than full participants in the course. This paper looks at reversing that model by creating courses where the online student experience is the starting point for course design. The authors researched best practices in online education to reinvent lectures, assessments, and interactions and used a Backwards Design approach to reinvent a graduate level materials science course. The process developed became known as the Design for Online (DFO) model. Lectures were pre-taped in a studio and broken into smaller digestible chunks. Each of the videos was based upon clearly identified outcomes that focused on higher order thinking as defined by Bloom's Taxonomy. In order to facilitate those outcomes, embedded questions were added within the videos to point out vital information as well provide data to the instructor about the students' thinking. Multiple means of assessment were used to help respect diverse talents and ways of learning as well as to provide actionable timely feedback to students. Interaction became a key component in this new course. These interactions focused beyond student-to-content interaction by making sure to layer in meaningful student-to-instructor and student-to-student collaborations. End of semester survey data showed an increase in student satisfaction for the online version of the course. As a result, another materials science course was tested using the DFO process the following semester with similar results. Through this paper, the authors share best practices and lessons learned as well as a blueprint for any institution looking to go through a similar process. Suggestions are made as to how instructors might leverage the digital assets created through this process to benefit their on-ground students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jun 23 2018
Event125th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Salt Lake City, United States
Duration: Jun 23 2018Dec 27 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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