My Course Development Process

K.Park/ March 13, 2021/ 0 comments

Choosing a Course

I had a difficult time identifying an appropriate project.  After talking with my supervisor, the first one that I thought of doing, wouldn’t have any assessments and would instead serve as an extended resource for new instructors. This type of course doesn’t seem to meet the requirements or needs of this course’s community project, so I decided to use content from a past professional development that I took about Blended Learning from Educause.

I began developing a course blueprint for Universal Design Learning (UDL) 101 a few years ago when I first joined my office.  Since that time, I have learned more about creating learning objectives and backwards design, as well as interactions, so I think this will be a fun course to update.  Unfortunately, this course likely won’t turn into a course my team uses for professional development for faculty, but I believe working through the course development in general will help me as I work with faculty more with their courses.  This type of course has ample opportunities for the integration of technology, since it was started as a blended course and the initial goals of the course also included identifying ways to make content more accessible to students, which often entails using technology to do this work. 

Course Blueprint from Educause with a variety of assessments and activities to learn about UDL.
Screenshot of the course I created for the Blended Learning course I took from Educause 5 years ago.

Regarding ISTE Standard 2: Digital Citizen, I think the most closely related standard that I can touch on with UDL is with 2b. UDL advocates for positive interactions online, by ensuring that content put in the digital space allows as many people as possible to interact with the content by inside and outside of the classroom.  Many instructors may already incorporate UDL content into their own course designs, but I wonder how many students are encouraged to do the same for their peers.

  • 2b – Students engage in positive, safe, legal and ethical behavior when using technology, including social interactions online or when using networked devices.  

Since working on my UDL course in 2016, I decided to update my learning objectives for this project.

Learning Objectives/Goals

By the end of this course, participants in this course will be able to…

  • explain the benefits, impacts, and limitations that UDL has on students and their learning
  • identify and employ strategies to improve course access.
  • Articulate the difference between UDL, accommodations, and responsive design
  • articulate how universal design for learning changes in different course modalities.

Essential Questions

  • What is the relationship between UDL and student success?

Knowledge

  • UDL encompasses more than creating more access to technology and content
  • Integrate UDL throughout a course

Skills

  • Use tools that can help improve accessibility
  • Evaluate documents and websites for a basic level of accessibility 

Developing Assessments 

Since this course is for the faculty I work with, there will be some assumptions made, such as which technology tools are used on campus and any institutions policies.  This course is also fully asynchronous. I chose to use this Course Map from the University of Illinois that was part of a Teaching Online course that the university shared through a creative commons license.  Since it’s in tabular format, it allows users who are developing online courses to clearly see how well their assessments, activities and content align with their learning objectives.  

In addition to filling out the assessment methods, I’ve also labelled them, using the following key:

  • T – Performance Tasks
    • What evidence will show that your students understand?
  • OE -Other Evidence
    • What other evidence needs to be collected in light of Stage 1 Desired Results
  • SA- Student Self-Assessment and Reflection?

Another aspect that I wanted to emphasize with my assessments was providing a variety of formats, while also being able to connect activities to personal experiences.

Learning OutcomesAssessment Methods
Explain the benefits, impacts, and limitations that UDL has on students and their learning(OE) Discussion board(SA) Reflection on their experiences with UDL and how they may have benefitted from UDL and not realized it.
Identify and employ strategies to improve course access.(T/OE) Discussion board or similar tool, like Padlet or a Jamboard, that allows students to share how they will tackle improvements in their courses.(T) Create an accessible document, presentation, Canvas page or other content type used in an active course.(T) Create a mini report/video on a tool that you researched and worked to implement in class that you found helpful.  
Articulate the difference between UDL, accommodations, and responsive design(SA) Knowledge check quiz(T) Assessment of a website or course in the LMS (SA) Reflection of the above website or course when used on different devices.
Articulate how universal design for learning changes in different course modalities.(T) Create an accessible activity for an in-person course and adjust it for online.(SA) Complete a reflection on the accessible activity, identifying similarities and differences and what they learned.
A Portion of the Course Map used for developing my UDL course.

Creating a course with assessments was a stretch for me, since I primarily create how-to tutorials and short professional development courses, where I am typically responsible for one section or module at a time. At work, I often find myself in the position of person providing feedback on a completed course map and this assignment really reminded me that the instructors we worked put a lot of time, effort, and thought into their own courses (even if it’s not aligned like an online course) and that I too, need to recognize and applaud that effort and work.  

This helped me have more empathy and understanding for the instructors we work with who are moving to teach online.  I know it can take 40% more time to develop an online course and it can really be challenging to identify every aspect, so I have always tried to be encouraging, but I think there can still be a disconnect at times between the instructional designer and the instructor of the course. So it’s important to think of each other as collaborators and partners in developing a course and recognizing that each side brings an important perspective to the conversation of course design and content.  

Creating Learning Activities and Content

After working backwards further, I developed the activities and the ways in which content would be delivered.  These were determined based on the types of interactions that online courses would typically have throughout their course: Student to Student (SS), Student to Content (SC), and Student to Instructor (SI).  Ideally, there would be a balance between all three, but I believe that can be difficult to maintain in a fully asynchronous course, but I have attempted to add them and hopefully, if this became a real course, I would be able to add more elements or add a synchronous element online discussion that can be held regularly throughout the course.

Learning OutcomesAssessment MethodsLearning/Practice ActivitiesContent Delivery/Exploration Methods
Explain the benefits, impacts, and limitations that UDL has on students and their learning(OE) (SS) Discussion board, share what you learned about UDL.(SA) Reflection on their experiences with UDL and how they may have benefitted from UDL and not realized it.(SC)(SS) Find an example of UDL in the real world, and write about how UDL is demonstrated on a discussion board.(SC)(SS) Locate a component of this course and write about how UDL is demonstrated on a discussion board.(SC) Watch a video presentation on UDL from the DO-IT Center.(SC) Read post from OSU on limitations of UDL(SC) Watch an interview of students talking about how aspects of UDL impact their learning
Identify and employ strategies to improve course access.(T/OE) Discussion board or similar tool, like Padlet or a Jamboard, that allows students to share how they will tackle improvements in their courses.(T) Create an accessible Canvas home page, that includes common elements of an online course.(T) Create a mini report/video on a tool that you researched and worked to implement in class that you found helpful.  (SI)(SC) Practice creating an accessible course component and receive feedbackVideo with edited captions, document with structure, an accessible presentation (SC) Self-Check on the Rich Content Editor in  Canvas(SC)(SI) Reflection on creating an accessible course component with feedback on how to prioritize work.(SC) Have students begin designing their course home page and identify the elements they want present on their homepage.(SI) Mini videos on tools and technologies available at work that can help you create accessible materials.(SC) Read wiki how-to’s on ETM and CIS website.(SI) Read or watch video overviews on document structure, accessible video, accessible images, email(SI) Video overview of the Rich Text Editor in Canvas.
Articulate the difference between UDL, accommodations, and responsive design(SA) Knowledge check quiz(T) Assessment of a website or course in the LMS (SA) Reflection of the above website or course when used on different devices.(SI)(SC) Brief discussion/video post on how responsive course design may impact student accessibility.(SC) Read principles of accessible and universal design.(SC) Watch a 5 minute video about responsive design from treehouse
Articulate how universal design for learning changes in different course modalities.(T) Create an accessible activity for an in-person course and adjust it for online.(SA) Complete a reflection on the accessible activity, identifying similarities and differences and what they learned.(SC)(SI) As you work to design your activities, write how your activity would change if you had a deaf/low hearing student, blind or low vision student, a student who’s color blind, or a student who is dyslexic or has an unseen hearing disability. (SC) Watch a video about a student’s experience and how some in class activities aren’t accessible.
Course Planning Map with my Course Details added.

Understanding by Design

With understanding by design, some of the concepts weren’t new to me, as much as they were presented in a different way.  I’ve worked with rubrics for assessing online learning courses and there’s pieces that I like and don’t like of each one.  The Six Facets incorporate more empathy and care, which I appreciate, but I also miss the alignment that other rubrics emphasize.  Something I would like to pursue in the future is a customized rubric that incorporates pieces of other tools, the six facets of understanding, as well as the institution values and assessments together.

Chart of the six facets of understanding.
Explanation, Interpretation, Application, Perspective, Empathy, Self-Knowledge.
Chart of the Six Facets of Understanding

One of the things I struggled with was having an overarching question for my course.  I had a few different versions  and in the end, I settled on a rather mediocre one. By receiving feedback from someone else and developing more of my course, it became clearer what direction the question should take. By having a question, it also helped me think through what my learning objectives were going to be for this course.  I think this helps illustrate that having a collaborative approach can be really productive and that planning your course using something like the template provided for this course or the one that I used, that it will help you see how things are connected and improve your course plan.   I plan on incorporating this into the course map we use at work because I also think it can help instructors prioritize content and focus more on the most important pieces that they need their students to know.

Overall, while there were many parts of this project that were review for me, the opportunity to work together with my Personal Learning Community from my class this quarter as well as receiving feedback from someone outside my normal work network, allowed me to explore new ideas and different ways of engaging with a topic that is meaningful and is already regularly incorporated into my work.  I would say this is a valuable process to work through the planning process, but also to be open to constant improvement by engaging with others outside your discipline and even teaching level.

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