Instructional Design

“Clean Course”

I approach the design and organization of my online courses with the goal to make it as “clean” as possible. We have all experienced the frustrations associated with attempting to navigate a complex, non-user-friendly website. Imagine being required to regularly visit such a “messy” site for a course grade, and it’s a recipe for disaster. I strive to create a course that is logical, easy to navigate, and transparent in order to invite students in to a learning-friendly environment.

I begin each course with a “roadmap” that introduces learners to the course organization and layout using screen captures so they can start to visually orient and familiarize themselves with course content.

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My menus are uncluttered, colorful, and clear. This is an area that has improved over each semester, as these examples demonstrate.

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My courses continue to evolve to become more efficient, visually pleasing, and informative. With the help of an instructional consultant/designer, I have added new icons to common menu items. The icons remain consistent across the course and help organize the information on the page. Students have responded favorably about my “clean course” in their evaluations.

Student Quotes

“She is very organized and everything online was easy to find and access.”

“The use of online lecture and corresponding note pages is very effective. My trepidation about taking an online course was eased when I saw how well prepared the instructor was.”

“This is the most prepared and organized online class I have ever taken…”

“Very organized…layout of topics online is easy to navigate.”


My online teaching philosophy follows an “Introduce it, Model it, Apply it!” approach.

Introduce It

introduce itI have prepared concise, video/narrated lectures that are topic-specific and introduce the  main areas of focus. Students are given outline style handouts that require them to fill in information as they listen. Students report that this helps them stay focused during lectures.

For reading assignments, and especially those utilizing the e-text in CSD 304, I post not only the chapter and page numbers, but also a screen capture of the sections they are to review. The visual cue helps them quickly locate the specified areas.

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Student Quotes

“I really like having the lecture notes ahead of time and filling them in while I listen. It kept me from zoning out. She gave us the main points in the lectures that we would need for the other assignments.”

“Dr. Musser explains each unit in a clear and easy way. She makes difficult topics easier to understand.”

“Dr. Musser presents each topic in a very clarifying manner.”

Model It

The course content is then modeled through diagrams, examples, and activities. For example, after discussing a particular disorder within a lecture, students then view video examples that are embedded within the lecture itself.

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Each course section, or Module, contains a “Toolbox” folder that contains a variety of learning tools to help demonstrate the course content. These may include YouTube videos, web links to interactive sites, or additional reading materials.

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Student Quotes

“The instructor utilized examples of content very frequently, which helps solidify understanding.”

“I really like how in depth her lectures are and examples relating to the subject.”

“I really liked the use of the videos to understand a topic. This made it easier to grasp the concept.”

“Dr. Musser gave us extra material to help with the course.”

Apply It

My online courses contain a wide variety of ways to demonstrate learning. Practice questions, ungraded quizzes, discussion board assignments, labs, and traditional exam assessments provide early, mid, and end-point learning checks.

practice respiration quiz

artic lab

The way in which assessments are completed has improved within my online courses. CSD 304 uses a tactile-visual approach to learning anatomical structures in A&P, that was not previously utilized in my face-to-face class. Coloring has proven an effective way to identify and distinguish structures, and the physical act of coloring helps students retain the information. Several of the labs in CSD 304 provide coloring worksheets that students must color, label, and submit. Within the “Start Here” folder, students are provided with tutorials on how to take a screen capture, so that these labs can be submitted for credit. They seem to enjoy coloring for points!

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Student Quotes

“I feel like the class is well balanced with the lectures, labs, discussions boards, and tests.”

“There seemed to be a good variety to help learn the material.”

“I like the lectures, and the homework assignments. I think you graded fairly and always provided a rubric of what was expected which helped a lot.”

“Loved the interactive labs which really helps me learn because I can see the information that I am learning.”