Postgraduate Course: Designing Courses (EDUA11180)
This unit focuses on the design and development of courses, particularly but not exclusively at undergraduate level. It includes consideration of the vertical and horizontal relationships of courses with the rest of the curriculum and students’ programmes of study. Emphasis is also be placed on the challenges for students in engaging fully with course content and processes, and how design decisions can enable the structuring and scaffolding of effective student learning.
The course gives participants the opportunity to critically examine key issues which arise and need to be resolved when designing new courses or redesigning existing ones. They develop a keen awareness of the underpinning theoretical considerations and their implications for practice. At the same time the requirement to apply their knowledge and understanding by working with the development of a particular course sharpens participants’ appreciation of the affordances and constraints of contextual features, and encourages them to develop creative responses to real-life challenges.
Participants are encouraged to expand their repertoire of strategies and practical approaches by moving outside their familiar frameworks and engaging in investigation and discussion across disciplinary boundaries. The course also helps advance participants’ ability to communicate in appropriate ways to peers, senior colleagues and students the underlying rationales for choices made between competing possibilities.
Successful completion of the course will enable participants to demonstrate:
- analytical engagement with key issues and writings on course design and development
- alertness to students’ perspectives, their orientations and the challenges they face
- critical reflection on course purposes and their articulation, with course activities and assessment – both conceptually and within specific contexts
- awareness of ways of monitoring, reviewing and taking forward course development
- appropriate attention to the place of a course in an overall programme of study and
- issues of progression
Aims of the Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice.
- To introduce course participants to significant issues in relation to teaching, learning and assessment at a research-intensive institution.
- To combine reference to theory and educational literature with practical application and make use of a wide variety of teaching and assessment strategies to demonstrate good practice.
- To provide participants with the conceptual and theoretical frameworks needed to engage reflectively and critically with the question of how to promote high quality student learning within research-intensive settings.
- To provide a pathway to professional accreditation by the Higher Education Academy.
The theory, theorist, approach, or tools used depends on the type of learning the instructor wants to activate (or facilitate, depending on what terminology one is using).
Theory and Theorists
- Constructivism-Lev Vygotsky-Vygotsky, L. S. (1980). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Harvard University Press. Liu & Matthews, International Education Journal, 2005, 6(3), 386-399. “experiential learning through authentic experience. Problem-solving that leads to creative or innovative responses. Instructional role is that of mentoring.
- “Social Learning Theory”. Bandura, A. (1971). General Learning Corperation. Retrieved 25 December 2013.
- Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age, International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, Vol. 2 No. 1, Jan 2005
- Community of Practice (Lave & Wenger): this theory of learning suggests that learning is a community activity where students are peripheral members looking to become full-fledged members of a community. The community is defined with a shared approach to the domain (for example, an academic discipline or a particular trade), a shared set of processes to engage that domain, and a shared identity as a member of the group. This approach works well with academic disciplines (assuming the student is committed to that discipline) and apprenticeship/mentor relationships (faculty/student or trade/crafts).
- Experentialism: a theory that posits experience as the source of knowledge. Learning in this theory involves direct, authentic application in the lived world with consistent cycles of reflection to make sense of this learning.
- Infed (a non-profit organization with an associated online website with excellent introductory articles to learning theory, particularly ones relevant to course design):
- JISC: Institutional Approaches to Course Design– these resources are not all entirely elearning course design, but they do include some excellent elearning parts as well. These resources assume, as I think is the case with what you are designing, that the course is following an institutional curriculum.
- In particular, I might draw your attention to the Open University Learning Design Initiative (JISC-OULDI) project as that has some particularly good research on developing dialogue and communication in the online course experience.
- Educause publishes some decent material on the issue, but tends to be a little enamored recently of MOOCs at the expense of everything else. Still, much of their material is worthy of including in a background report. Please note that this is US based data.
Tools (either supplemental or primary instruction)
Learning Management System (LMS)
These are the tools that the course designer must consider when presenting their class (particularly online). These tools are often defined at the organizational level and therefore course designers must be aware of the guidelines their universities are generating to govern their use.
Personal Learning Environment (PLE)
PLEs are commonly used by teachers and those in higher education to keep up to date on current developments in their fields, to network, and to reflect. All of these are active elements of professional practice and these tools below are useful in establishing an optimal flow of research, discussion, and reflection.
- WordPress (privacy settings)
- RSS Reader (Feedly)
- Multimodal (Flickr, Pinterest, etc.)
Course Design Tools
The tools you use to build your courses should follow or be aligned with university policy towards educational technology use. If your university uses a particular tool to design and host their courses, your best option is to use that tool. Large tools like Blackboard or Moodle can be supplemented with other social tools, like Twitter or Flickr quite effortlessly.
Open Educational Resources (OER)
- OER Commons
- Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)
- Creative Commons Search (for openly licensed reusable content)
Need to create
- Guides for getting started with specific tools
- Guidelines for expected contribution/participation
- Resources to link to RSS Reader
- Visuals for how this course fits into certificate programme
- Visuals for how activity links to learning outcomes/assessment