Online Course Development - A Team Approach

By Doris McManus
Florida Virtual School
English Instructor / Newspaper co-editor
Never having developed an entire course before, I approached the prospect of creating a new English III course for Florida Virtual School (FLVS) with some trepidation. Would I know how to do it? Where would I find the resources? I’ve been a course editor for FLVS for the past three years, but that only involved making edits to existing courses. I had worked with Dreamweaver, Fireworks, and a little bit of Flash. Was I ready to take on the enormous task of building a course from scratch? I was about to find out. Three of my colleagues, Liane McHugh, Kim Rugh, and April Schmidt, agreed to join me in my effort to write the best course FLVS had ever seen! We did this despite the fact that none of us lived in the same part of the state! Together with the Development Team we began the arduous but exciting task. The Web Development Team started us off with a Proposed Timeline that gave us a strategy for approaching our goals. They laid out deadlines for completing each aspect of the course, from the theme selection to the number of modules to the completion of the assignments. A plan was in place to have us submit a weekly report of our progress in the development. This motivated us to stay on task and continue moving the process along. We were provided with an Application Development Specialist (ADS) who worked with us to ensure we were headed in the right direction. Helpful links to images and multimedia content were sent our way. Once our theme had been decided (the newspaper called The Virtual Times), my teammates and I decided to develop the first module together. We first worked out the types of lessons to be used for each module: front page, feature, headline news, opinion, local news, sports and leisure, arts and entertainment, word of the day, and the back page. Then we set out to determine the content of each lesson in the first module. At that point we chose which lessons we wanted to work on. Once we completed that task and after much consulting back and forth via email and phone conferences, we put it all together and sent it off to our ADS for editing and suggestions. From there, we divided up the rest of the eight remaining modules and each took two to develop independently. Our course is not yet complete, but we will pilot a beta version of the course starting in the fall.