Whether it is blended learning or pure distance, curriculum is a key component to consider as learners study to pursue their educational goals.

Tips & Resources

The curriculum should drive the primary instruction.  Whether they are accessing USALearns or math videos from Khan Academy, most pure distance learners spend far more time interacting with the online curriculum than they do with their teacher.  Matching students with the appropriate instructional materials and ensuring that they have ready access to materials can make the difference between a successful distance learning experience and one of frustration. It is usually easier to support access in a blended context, although selection of material can sometimes be a challenge for teachers implementing blended learning.  

Evaluate potential online learning curricula on a variety of factors.  Questions to consider include: 

  • What are the instructional goals for the distance education program and what curricula match those goals?
  • For what level of student is the content appropriate? 
  • Does the curriculum provide basic instruction or does it simply review material assumed to have been learned elsewhere?
  • Is the curriculum comprehensive or will other materials be needed to cover the content area?
  • What type of instruction is provided?  Do students have sufficient opportunities to apply their knowledge?  
  • Which media are used to deliver instruction?  Will your students be able to easily access and utilize the materials? 
  • Is the media presented clearly? Is there lots of competing information on each page making it difficult to prioritize text?
  • Is the media organized intuitively? Will learners have a difficult time navigating it?

Start with one curriculum.  Beginning with one curriculum makes it easier to learn how to provide distance education and to identify best practices in teaching at a distance. With experience, you can then select from a variety of curricula to best meet each student's needs.