MIT Offers Free Courses Through OpenCourseWare

I love smart things, so it’s no wonder that I’m subscribed to MIT’s OpenCourseWare page on Facebook, to keep up-to-date with what’s happening at (IMO) the best school ever.  OCW is MIT’s repository of past courses offered for credit.  All of this is available for free online.  Sure, you cannot talk to the professor or turn in work, but you get all of the details of the course.  Recently, I volunteered and transcribed a space shuttle course for them, which was a nice feel-good kind of thing.  After years of checking out this site (I think I took a java class in 2004 from OCW), I finally decided to see if they have any classes geared towards instructional design.


The most pertinent course I’ve found so far is the Computer Games and simulations, which is part of their Urban Studies course list (grad and undergrad courses).  This course investigates computer gaming and how we learn from interactive environments, and it’s now at the top of my list of courses to explore.  Awesome!

But that’s not all!  Educational Theory I – III is also available.  There’s also everything else, like finance courses, programming courses, and Spatial Database Management and Advanced Geographic Information Systems.  Nothing like a little geek session to start the day!

Do you have any free online courses that you would like to share?  Have you taken an MIT Instructional Design course (or any other)?  Leave a comment and share your experience!


Instructional Objectives, Test Questions, and Lesson Plans

I was very fortunate to be a part of a three day instructional design course on developing instructional objectives, test questions, and lesson plans.  The course delved into the Systematic Approach to Training (SAT), and it really drove home the need to create bombshell instructional objectives, followed by test questions (two for each objective for us!) – before any content is ever developed.  It was great to hear this best practice reaffirmed.

One thing that had me worried was that my web based training modules were not for credit, and the ID course was geared towards credit-based instructor led training (ILT).  My courses are required but not for-credit.  Although I do need to update the ILT version of my web based training modules in addition to revising my videos, the scope of the course I took was definitely different than my current role.

It turns out it was super helpful to me!  Objectives are the base of a course. They should be completed in the design phase, along with test questions.  Using specific verbs and having a complete objectives (with a condition, a performance, and a standard) help participants understand what they are getting into, but it also outline what the instructor is getting into!

No matter what, instructional objectives and test questions have to have a direct relationship and be consistent with one another.  For example, if you have an instructional objective that says when you are done you should have memorized a list, the test question must make them write the list – matching or multiple choice won’t do.  If you have an instructional objective that says when you are done you should recognize a list, then you can use multiple choice, matching, etc for test questions.

The most important thing impressed on us with the lesson plan was organization.  I really think a lesson plan could or should also be the common denominator between an ILT, a web conference, and a web based training module.  The lesson plan provides scope.  Although it sounds a little difficult, it was recommended that courses without lesson plans be retrofitted with one.  That could take a little work, but I see why!

After taking the class, I found out that one of my web modules was going to be offered for credit!  What a great surprise!