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Module Two: Course Design
Overview
Designing a course begins with a clear definition of the skills and knowledge that are expected of the learner population at the conclusion of the course. However, courses do not live in isolation, so it is also important to examine the relationship the course has to other courses, curriculum, or programs. When defining your course objectives, you should consider the entry levels of the learner population in relation to where those levels need to be at the conclusion of the course. You should be realistic in your expectations and examine all aspects of the anticipated learner population. Consider the course outcomes as your starting and ending point in the design process. The course objectives and how you will assess mastery of those objectives will frame the course and everything that occurs within the framework will define the teaching process.
Course Design Process
The course design process must be viewed as formative, almost a constant work in progress. Course development often requires multiple iterations of the course before the developer is satisfied with the finished product. Courses whose content can be impacted by changes in the associated industry or area of study may require constant or frequent revisions.
  1. Determine Course Objectives
  2. Define assessment for evaluating master of course objectives
    1. Identify course content aligned with course objectives (What will be covered in the course?)
    2. Select the instructional strategies (lecture, readings, hands-on)
    3. Select course materials (text, audio, video, resources)
    4. Identify assignments and student interactions (papers, projects, activities)
Course Development and Content Structure
Writing Course Objectives
Writing Course ObjectivesYour course objectives should reflect the learning goals or learner outcomes of your course objectives should reflect the learning goals or learner outcomes of the course. Not unlike the course syllabus, the course objectives guide the student through the course by identifying the expectations for the course and the way their mastery of those objectives will be measured.  The course objectives help the learner identify both the entry-level skills and knowledge they need to be successful in the course and those exit level skills and knowledge that will determine their level of success.  Above and beyond your course objectives, you will find the overarching course goal. The goal is more global and requires an in-depth fundamental understanding of the course objectives. Your focus should be on breaking down the course overall goal into smaller measureable objectives.

When creating your course objectives you should have a good understanding of where the course fits within your program and curriculum. Knowing how your course fits into the overall goals of your program will guide you in determining how best to prepare students to be successful in completing your course. You must consider the entry-level skills and knowledge of your learning population if you are to move them towards successful mastery.

Another strong element in developing your course goals is to have a fully developed understanding of the theories that support the foundations of the course goal. Theoretical foundations allow you to design your course in a manner that best aligns to your pedagogical style.

Once you have determined the overall course goal, course objectives and assessments, you need to now focus on the most appropriate teaching strategy.  Finding alignment between the pedagogy and the course objectives is an essential element of success.  While lecturing is the most common form of course delivery method, technology and in particular multimedia offer many news forms of course delivery.  Regardless of the instructional strategy, the overarching goal is to provide the framework to ensure student success.  Technology offers the instructor a variety of ways to deliver instruction that best aligns to the learning preferences of the targeted population.   

Varying instruction offers instructors an opportunity to address and meet the learning needs of the instructional population. Effective and efficient alignment increases the opportunity for essential learning to occur. No one instructional mode is the most efficient. However, learning how to gauge or understand the needs of your learner population optimizes increases in learner’s skills and knowledge.         
      
Creating a support, collaborative learning environment is essential if you are to meet the needs of your learners in a variety of settings.  While discussion provides a format for elaborating on the views and expectations of the learner, the opportunity to collaborate with that community goes without compare.  Collaboration helps to prepare learners for the world beyond the classroom. Working as a team, working collaboratively is an essential skill set that will set learners apart from those individual who see no value in the power of contribution.
 
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