August 20, 2019

By Shelley Howell, Ed.D.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you first design a course. There so much to cover, and so little time to cover what you think they need to know! Your first thoughts are to squeeze it all in, talk fast, and hope they get it. You start reading everything, and get lost when you try to understand the newest teaching fads and how to fit them into your teaching. STOP!

Our best advice is to slow down and take it one step at a time. Start with the BIG THREE:

1. Write clear outcomes that help students understand what they will learn in your course.

Brainstorm everything you want your students to know, group them by theme, and use these groupings to create your outcome statements. Use the appropriate level of verbs from Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy here. You can use the SMART goal model here.

2. Create assessments that measure your outcomes.

Map your assessments to your outcomes in a table or spreadsheet to make sure your assessments, activities and assignments actually work to measure your outcomes. Consider what product your students will produce to prove their learning. The more choices you give students, the more ownership they will have of their learning. Is a paper the best way, or would an infographic work just as well?

3. Explain your outcomes and assessments in an understandable syllabus.

Your syllabus should serve as a road map for your students. Make sure you are transparent in your expectations and instructions. TLS has a plethora of resources to help you decide what to include in your syllabus. You can find them here.

Once you have these big three outlined, the rest of your planning will be easy.

For more on Designing an Effective Course, head here.