Creating Online Learning Experiences is New Resource for MOOC Creators, Instructional Designers

The University of Texas – Arlington PressbooksEDU network was created in February of 2018.

Creating Online Learning Experiences, by UTA Learning Innovation Coordinator Matt Crosslin and collaborators, was the first book released on the network.

Originally, the book was conceived as a resource for instructors working with his department to create massive open online courses, or MOOCs, to help faculty who didn’t necessarily have a background in instructional design think about issues and processes to consider when putting a course online.

The idea evolved when Matt realized, “We could use this to also train instructional designers.”

The book was expanded last year to be a resource to anyone building an online course, including instructors at other institutions.

While there’s a flow from the beginning to the end of the book, Matt says they built it so that individual chapters could also stand alone.

To help build the book, he reached out to potential collaborators with the relevant expertise, both within UTA and also in his personal network. Several others wrote chapters, and numerous contributors authored sections of chapters. Matt plans to add even more contributors for the second edition, along with more in-depth revisions to existing content.

Matt says from a technical standpoint building the book was easy because he was already familiar with WordPress, and Pressbooks is built on WordPress.

He started in a Word document, which he uploaded to Google docs for reviewers and editors, and ultimately copy-pasted the work into Pressbooks.

The book is 14 chapters, plus front matter and back matter. For version two, he plans to add interactive multimedia.

People are already using the book in a variety of ways. Some instructors have started referencing it in some of their courses; others had been waiting to incorporate it into their instructional design courses. And some at UTA are using it to guide their online course creation process.

The book was released in late June 2018, and Matt is talking with the university’s media group to release an official press release. He has seen some traction for the book on Twitter and social media, and he’s working with UTA Open Education Librarian Michelle Reed on publicizing the book in print-on-demand through Lulu, and setting up stats to find out how often it’s downloaded. The library also set up an adoption form where people can let UTA know they have adopted the book and how they’re using it.

He says the book has broadened his network.

“I’m starting to see a lot of people I wasn’t connected with that are looking at it,” Matt says, noting he also received a rush of LinkedIn connection requests from people in the educational technology sector. “People at least liked it and wanted to connect professionally about it.”

Leigh A. Hall, of the YouTube channel Teaching Academia, even did a YouTube review of the book.

Matt says at first people asked him why he was writing another book on instructional design, as there were already a number of books on the subject.

“My response to that was that I was actually trying not to cover the same ground as those books cover. They cover a lot of the complex processes for instructional design, and they do it well.”

Matt says his goal was to start looking at contemporary modern issues—equality, access, surveillance—in the context of instructional design.

“For example, what is instructional design going to look like in the wake of Cambridge Analytica?” Matt asks, saying he wanted this resource to merge the theoretical with social justice and make sure there’s a good source connecting the two.

“To not only just look at some of these people from several decades ago who came up with these design methods but also these people today who are asking hard questions about how we’re using technology; why we’re using it.”

The book is available for sale through Lulu at http://www.lulu.com/content/paperback-book/creating-online-learning-experiences-a-brief-guide-to-online-courses-from-small-and-private-to-massive-and-open/23171413.

8/31 Update: This case study was edited to refer to Crosslin as Matt throughout and to note that the book was expanded to be a resource to all online instructors, not just those building MOOCs.