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Center for Teaching Excellence

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Plan and Design Your Course

Plan Course Curriculum

Below are the steps to follow for moving a large lecture course online using recommended curriculum design processes (Backward Design Model) and online course design best practices to ensure that the learning experience is as high-quality for your course taught online as in a face-to-face format: 

  1. Reflect on your course learning outcomes – what are your goals? What do you want your students to get out of the course?  Defining these outcomes drives how you assess them. 
  2. Determine how these outcomes can be achieved most effectively in an online environment. This will entail selecting appropriate assessments that can determine if the students achieved that goal.  Assessments should be at multiple levels:  low-stakes, higher-stakes, individual, pair-work or group assignments, etc.  Multiple modalities of assessments benefit your students.
  3. Determine what students will do – the activities – to generate the learning you envision. For online modes, this can entail numerous opportunities to use different types of materials and online resources. 
  4. Finally, how do you help your students accomplish these activities? What is your role and teaching strategy? Do not limit yourself to lecture videos – how can you facilitate learning groups, illustrate problem-solving or critical thinking?  

For each of these steps – think outside the box!  This is your opportunity to develop previous seeds of ideas for teaching and student assessments and take advantage of the resources that are now available to you.

Some Helpful Resources:

Design Your Course and Organize Content

No matter the delivery format you select, organize your course materials in Blackboard with the student learner in mind – help them easily navigate and find materials and assignments to set the stage for your students’ learning experience.  CTE has instructional design support and templates to help you get started.

CTE Instructional Design Consultation:  Schedule a one-on-one consultation to discuss your individual course needs and pedagogical methodologies.  A designer can provide recommendations on how you can use certain technologies to manage a large course online effectively and efficiently, including Blackboard features such as rubrics and auto-grading.

CTE Bb Master Course Template:  CTE has a Blackboard Master Course Template with boilerplate language organized for student-centered learning that you can tailor to your class. The template is organized into three sections:  Start Here, Learning Modules (instructional content), and Resources.  A CTE Instructional Designer can copy it into your course for you as well as help you copy content from a previous semester; request a consultation for this assistance.

Once you’ve planned your curriculum using Backward Design, you’ll focus on course design using these processes:

  1. Organize Module-by-Module Schedule: Outline all instructional activities you want students to complete and organize these into modules. 
    1. What do you normally do in class? 
    2. Write out a weekly module-by-module schedule; think of this as a “task” or “assignments” list. Many faculty design 14 modules, one module per week for students to complete in a fall or spring semester.
  2.  Module Schedule Task List example: 
    1. Read Start Here materials
    2. Post Self-Introductions
    3. Read Chapter 1
    4. Watch Lecture Part 1 (15 min)
    5. Watch Lecture Part 2 (15 min)
    6. Complete Knowledge Check Quiz #2
    7. Read Article #1
    8. Write annotated bibliography for Article #1
  3. Organize Digital Instructional Materials: Organize all instructional materials you’re currently using in your class into weekly module folders, including lecture slides, lecture notes, tests, assignments, readings, websites, articles, videos, etc. Convert them to a digital format and check for accessibility, as needed.  Determine what additional materials you will need to either create or find from another source. 
  1. Create Instructional Content, if needed: See the Create Instructional Content sections below for best practices for assessments, active learning strategies, and instructional content, as well as accessibility. Include clear, detailed instructions and explicit expectations for any assignments or assessments.
  2. Select Tools: After planning instructional activities, select the most appropriate tools within Blackboard, Office365, or another source.
  3. Write Syllabus and Course Policies: In online learning, best practices are that you provide all course policies and support information to students in writing in your syllabus. We recommend using CTE Syllabus Templates. These contain example statements that can be easily modified and contains all required and recommended sections for a good syllabus – and it is already accessible for you!  You may also consider including a statement regarding policies for students directly impacted by COVID-19 (sick themselves or caring for immediate family member).
  4. Build your Course in Blackboard: Build your content into Blackboard using the CTE Master Course Template framework.  See section the section below for tips.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.

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