Part I: Planning Your Course

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Careful planning will help you make decisions about the course elements that are crucial for maximizing students’ learning in a remote or online environment. Part I provides tips and resources to guide your decision making for each of these elements based on evidence-based practices.

For those wanting to learn more, a list of additional resources are provided so you can take a deeper dive into the ideas presented. Also, at the end of each section, you find a link to the relevant Quality Matters standard recognized internationally for delivering quality online learning experiences.

1. EXAMINE YOUR COURSE AND YOUR TEACHING AND LEARNING CONTEXT

The Goal: Examine your course requirements and specific teaching and learning context to identify situational factors or constraints that will help you make decisions about three major elements of your course: 1) goals/learning outcomes; 2) assessment and feedback; and 3) teaching and learning activities.

TIPS

Course Requirements

Teaching and Learning Context

  • Review ‘Get Started with Teaching Remotely’.
  • Think about who your students are and what challenges they may face while participating in your course.
  • Consider technology your students may have access to at home – contact CITL to discuss.
  • Consider your instructional approach (how you like to teach).
  • Reflect on your past teaching and identify the concepts that your students may have had trouble grasping. Think about how you motivated student participation and engaged them in the learning experience.
  • Become familiar with or refresh your knowledge of Brightspace by attending webinars offered by CITL and review Frequently Asked Questions and Student Resources.

2. EDIT OR WRITE OVERALL COURSE GOALS/LEARNING OUTCOMES

The Goal: Articulate the essential knowledge (concepts, ideas, principles, relationships), skills, and attitudes/values you want students to remember and be able to apply at the end and after the course.

TIPS

Competencies/Attributes

  • In addition to four to six core content discipline-specific learning outcomes, consider including outcomes related to the digital and higher-order thinking skills you want students to acquire (e.g., analyze, synthesize, problem solve, collaborate). Also, students should be able to reflect and make connections among information learned in your course to other courses or disciplines, and the world in which they live).
  • Don’t try to do too much.

Communicating Learning Outcomes

3. REVIEW AND DETERMINE ASSESSMENT COMPONENTS AND METHODS OF FEEDBACK

The Goal: Choose assessments that enable students to continuously monitor and evaluate their own learning progress and ultimately achieve the course learning outcomes.

TIPS

Assessment

Feedback

  • Use rubrics to make expectations (criteria and standards) clear to students and to help you grade assessments.
  • Build in ways to make sure students are accountable for the work they do in discussions and in groups.
  • Consider different types of feedback and frequency required for students to track their progress and stay motivated to complete the course.

Technology

4. REVIEW AND SELECT TEACHING AND LEARNING ACTIVITIES AND RESOURCES

The Goal: Select activities and resources that will help students to successfully complete the assessment you have chosen and interact with each other.

TIPS

Activities

  • Identify the successful activities you use in-class and think about how they can be delivered online.
  • When appropriate, limit activities that simply focus on rote learning or memorization.
  • Scaffold learning activities to move students from mastering content to learning how to apply the content, reflect, and make connections. Watch this video of a five stage model.
  • Have students find and evaluate information themselves by providing criteria and guidelines.
  • Embed formative classroom assessment techniques throughout course for students to monitor their progress.
  • Incorporate group projects and online collaborative learning activities.
  • Engage students in online discussions to apply and reflect on what they are learning.
  • Give some consideration to activities that can be done synchronously (real-time) versus asynchronously.
  • Use synchronous activities when there is opportunity for students to interact and collaborate (e.g. presenting troublesome topics or hosting review sessions that may require Q&A and bringing in a guest speaker). Contact CITL for consultation.
  • Design activities to meet all students’ needs.

Supporting Resources/Content

  • Consider the best way to make content available to students (e.g. provide course notes in text format, audio, and video).
  • Review any existing resources (e.g. instructor notes, PowerPoints slides, and readings) for currency and make plans for revisions and additions to facilitate and support each of the learning activities. Contact CITL for a consultation with an instructional designer.
  • Where possible, link to relevant web content or Open Access resources (e.g. OER Commons Collections or CC Search and Linney – MUN’s Learning Object Repository) rather than create all the content yourself.
  • If required, create a video narration of your own slides, record yourself demonstrating a task, or work with CITL to create a video. See media examples on CITL website.
  • Link to an audio clip, record your own (e.g. using Microsoft voice recorder or audacity) or create a podcast.
  • Consider using resources currently available through Memorial Libraries by incorporating the Course Resources (Reserve) tool in your course site.
  • While many resources you find online are available for use under current Fair Dealing guidelines, it is important to verify copyright restrictions and apply proper attribution when using the work of others. Copyright support is available at the library if you are unsure about licensing or have questions about fair dealing.

Technology

5. CHECK THAT LEARNING OUTCOMES, ASSESSMENT/FEEDBACK AND ACTIVITIES/RESOURCES SUPPORT EACH OTHER

The Goal: Verify the goals/outcomes, assessment and feedback, teaching/learning activities, and resources you have chosen support each other and are reflective of the course requirements and your teaching and learning context – situational factors (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Components of Integrated Course Design. Adapted from Model 1 from L. Dee Fink, “A Self-Directed Guide to Designing Courses for Significant Learning, ©2005, p. 2. Via Dee Fink & Associates.

TIPS

Effective Course Design

  • List each of your learning outcomes.
  • For each outcome, Identify the assessment and activity/resource students will complete and how feedback will be provided for you and the students to determine if they achieved the intended learning outcomes.
  • Check how well the activity or assessment supports the learning outcomes. For example:
    • If the learning outcome is for students to be able to analyze information and an exam with questions requiring students to remember content-related facts is the assessment, then the outcomes and assessment are not aligned. There is no opportunity for students to practice analyzing information.

6. REVISE OR PLAN COURSE STRUCTURE, SCHEDULE AND CONTENT FOR ENTIRE SEMESTER

The Goal: Decide on a course structure and revise or create a schedule for the entire semester that can be used to guide student learning and your instruction.

TIPS

Course Structure

  • Decide how many weeks or class sessions are required to cover each major topic/theme that comprise your course content for the semester.
  • Scaffold topics so build on one another in a way that allow students to integrate what they learned in a previous week with new topics/information in the upcoming week (e.g. from simple to complex or known to unknown).

Course Schedule

  • Sequence the activities and assessments you selected around the weekly topics/themes into a course schedule.
  • Ensure ample time is allocated between each activity and/or assessment for students to apply concepts, for you to provide feedback, and for students to analyze feedback to improve learning.
  • Suggest completing the activities and assignments yourself to ensure they can be completed in time frame allocated and using the instructions and resources provided.

7. PREPARE OR REVISE SYLLABUS AND COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES

The Goal: Communicate your course design and expectations in the syllabus, along with your communication strategies to establish a supportive learning environment.

TIPS

Course Expectations

  • Review syllabus requirements under University Regulations stated under General Academic Regulations (Undergraduate) in Memorial’s Calendar.
  • Check with your academic unit to see if a template is available.
  • Ensure overview of course describes how content will be delivered.
  • Coordinate grading allocations (e.g. weight) so appropriate to each component based on the determined level of importance.

Communication Strategies

  • Clearly articulate how communication occurs in the course, frequency and technology tools used.
  • Similar to how you would speak in a typical lecture, write in a more conversational style to engage students.
  • Include netiquette rules to promote respectful communication, interaction and collaboration. (This is already included in the Getting Started section of the Course Set-up Kit!).
  • Clearly describe instructions and resources required for each assessment component. Include any rubrics to help students see your expectations for submissions. This too may also decrease the number of inquiries from students.
  • Provide clear participation and/or evaluation guidelines for any asynchronous discussions and synchronous activities/interactions in your course.

8. EVALUATE HOW YOUR COURSE IS GOING

The Goal: Select appropriate times throughout the course to solicit feedback and determine additional supports to help students succeed.

TIPS

Student Feedback

  • Include opportunities for feedback from students part way through the course or even after each major section to assess how they are doing and how the course is progressing.
  • Ask students to evaluate the learning activities and resources (including technology) used.
  • Use Brightspace Survey Tool to solicit feedback.
  • Encourage students to complete CEQs.

CITL, Phillips, P.; St. Croix, L.; Wicks, C.; & Beaton, N. (2020). Adapted from original Course Set Up Kit Guide by St. Croix, L. & Wicks, C. (2014).