Online courses are something that a lot of us are now dealing with. Some of the courses may be something you take for your own personal interest and then there are the courses that you will be taking for your job.
It can be interesting but also frustrating if the material that you have been given doesn’t actually work as well as you were lead to believe. In some cases it could be the material actually has errors in it and they haven’t been corrected from previous versions. The instructor, if they are aware of the errors should ensure that they let the students know about the corrections so that they don’t get frustrated. What can be extremely frustrating is hearing a comment from an instructor of “Oh yes, there are lots of errors in the material” but they don’t let you know where the errors are. This comment is one that we recently heard and that really frustrating as a bunch of us were trying to do some labs for a computer course and we didn’t know where they errors were until each of us ran into them.
Issues with material can make a course a challenge especially if you are told one thing when you register for a course and then when you start to take the course you are told something different. Making sure that the prerequisites are clearly defined is very important and they shouldn’t be changed after the list has been issued out. In some cases people have invested money and/or time to make sure that they have the original listed items only to be told once the course starts that the prerequisites are different.
As an instructor of an online course it is very important that you are aware of all the prerequisites as well as any videos outlining prep work. If you aren’t the one that recorded the prep video ensure that you have watched it prior to starting the course so that you are comfortable with what was said in the video or if you haven't reviewed your own videos recently. Actually as an instructor it is very important that you know the entire course and the schedule for each week. If you need to have a sheet of paper beside you with some notes that’s fine because no one will know that if you are doing webinar classes.
If a course has conflicting material, it makes for a harder course for everyone, so if you are the instructor let the students know if there are corrections to the material they have received but don’t change the prerequisites just because you don’t like something that was suggested. The instructor’s role is very important for the online courses because each student will be be learning at a different speed. As the instructor you are going to be partly the teacher but also the support system when problems are encountered. If you make promises to the students to provide certain material at a specific time make sure that you follow through with that because you are impacting how the students are learning and how comfortable they are feeling about the material.
Conflicting material needs to be highlighted to the students as soon as it is known and it would be really nice if one page was available online to show all the errors that have been found and the corrections that are needed.