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Pacing Learning Activities in Online Courses

Instructor: Laura Gray

Laura has taught at the secondary and tertiary levels for 20+ years and has a Ph.D. in Instructional Design for Online Learning.

In this lesson, we will explore the importance of proper pacing in the online classroom. We will also explore different methods for ensuring consistent pacing throughout a course.

Why is Pacing Important in an Online Class?

Believe it or not, even more than in the face-to-face environment, it is really important to consistently and correctly pace an online course. By pacing, we are referring to the rate at which new material is presented, assignments are due, and discussions take place. In a brick and mortar classroom, the pacing is important as well, but a class or two that lacks momentum doesn't 'kill' the pacing of the entire course. And, conversely, moving really quickly for a week or two usually won't cause a mutiny among your students.

All of that changes when you go to online delivery of a course, however. Think about what a patient's heartbeat on a heart monitor at the hospital looks like. If the patient is healthy, you will see evenly spaced peaks and valleys. On the other hand, when something is really wrong, either the peaks and valleys will be very erratic, or, in the worst case, a flat-line will occur.

Course pacing is the same way. You want those evenly-spaced peaks and valleys.

Read on, and we will discuss strategies that will enable you to pace your courses effectively.

Good pacing in the online classroom keeps learning alive.
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Plotting it All Out

Some courses run 13 to 15 weeks, and others last only 6 or 8. Typically, the shorter a course is, the more intense it is, and the more activities that will be packed into each week. However, no matter how long your course runs, you do NOT want to overwhelm your students.

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