The Impact of Open Source: Evaluating an Open Course

The purpose of this blog post is to explain the pre-planning and designing approaches for an open course. The post will evaluate the open course in terms of following recommended learning instruction and including learning activities which promote students’ active learning. The open course that I selected is through UDACITY, the course is Introduction to Computer Science (CS101): Building a Search Engine ( ).

The Course is Carefully Pre-Planned and Designed Course Design Circle
Through the pre-planning phase of designing a course it is important to introduce a complete well designed syllabus that could serve as a road map to the learners and guide them through their learning journey (Laureate Education Inc., n.d.). Once you click on the course overview link you notice that there is a tremendous effort put into pre-planning and designing the course. The overview page lists clearly the objectives of the course, a complete syllabus with details about each unit, and small statement to encourage beginners to join the course, stating that there is no prior experience needed for the course (UDACITY, 2012). Instructors in online courses need to help learners to stay organized throughout the course; they need to list clear objectives for the course and provide a detailed syllabus to guide the learners (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012).

Going through the course module, the content is presented in multiple ways; the instructors used videos, animation, and text. In addition, the content is designed within a well defined structure; each unit has topics and activities that support the predefined objectives. Dr. Piskurich (n.d.) indicated that the first step to develop a carefully planned course is to develop clear objectives and choose tasks that support these objectives (Laureate Education Inc., n.d.).

The instructors in this open course used the Unit-Module-Topic (UMT) approach in designing the course content, which is an organizational approach recommended by Simonson et al. (2012). In addition, the content is delivered in a variety of ways; the instructors used video, animation and many graphical representations (Simonson et al., 2012) which kept me engaged throughout each topic. However, I believe that there are many topics listed under each module, and the labels for each topic do not clearly explain the content of each topic; this could raise questions by the learners (Kelly, 2012) and could be distracting. In terms of assessment, the instructors used one questions for each topic; Simonson et al. (2012) explained that there should be “at least one learning outcome for each course topic” (p.181).

Online ActivtiesCourse Activities

Active learning means that the learners need to be involved in their own learning (Simonson et al., 2012). The course incorporate tracking progress indicator; once completed each topic is marked as finished; moreover the course has a page that displays a list of the progress made. The access to the course content and activities is non-leaner; as this is a self-paced course this design of the content supports the purpose of the course as an open and self-paced course. The course designer incorporated interactive quizzes with feedback available through audio and interactive modules. The designer included two different ways for collaboration, a discussion area and a wiki. The discussion is designed to engage the students through questions and answers; the wiki is a collaborative tool which enables students to build resources as supplementary resources to the course; this kind of collaboration promotes flexibility and creates a dynamic learning community (Simonson et al., 2012).

In conclusion, the open course incorporated many successful design concepts. The course is very well structured with various visual and interactive modules. In addition, it included many activities to engage the learners using various concepts and learning strategies.


Kelly, B. (2012, September 17). Simplifying online course design [Blog message]. Retrieved from
Laureate Education Inc. (Producer). (n.d.). Planning and designing online courses [Video webcast]. Retrieved from
Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.
UDICITY. (2012). Introduction to computer science (CS101): Building a search engine. Retrieved from
[Untitled image of a course design circle]. Retrieved from
[Untitled image of the globe with three online learners connected]. Retrieved from


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