Unit 3: Designing & Developing a Course (SL3)
What does Designing and Developing mean with regard to a course?
Usually, we use the term 'designing' when referring to a brand new course or, in some cases, to a course that needs major changes and updates (re-design). We call these "Service Level 3" (SL3). These courses need to be conceptualized and articulated in the context of the Program the course is a part of, and with an awareness of courses that come before and after it in a student's experience. This requires a team of people with a variety of expertise and perspectives:
- Program Head - brings 'big-picture' knowledge of the program, the students who will enroll, and generally what role this specific course must fulfill (key topics, skills, learning outcomes, etc.) Some will play a very active role in course design and others will provide general guidance and leave the details to the rest of the team.
- Subject Matter Expert (SME) - that's you! You have been hired because of the specific knowledge and experience you can bring. You will be able to drill down further and add 'flesh to the bones' of the general course description you've been given
- Instructional Designer (ID) (or sometimes called Learning Designer) - has deep knowledge of how to design an effective course. They know how to construct and work with learning outcomes; they know what kinds of learning activities and assignments work in various contexts; in partnership with the Program Head, they can guide the course design process, sorting out tasks and timelines to get the job done.
- Learning Technologist (LT) - can suggest and demonstrate technologies that will work with your ideas for learning activities and assignments. They will do the bulk of the work putting your course into Moodle and ensure that links work, the course meets accessibility standards, settings are correct, etc.
- Librarian - will help identify resources that can support your course. You will likely know of articles, videos, books, etc. that you would like to be available to students but there may be topics/areas where you could use some help. These folks are very good - call on them. The Copyright Officer will work to see that resources and readings comply with copyright laws and the Writing Centre can provide helpful resources, as well.
Once the design team is identified, you will begin working on a Course Outline, which will likely go through several drafts and eventually be submitted to Curriculum Committee for approval (CC template & guidelines | Samples). Then, additional work will be done to further develop the course and building the Moodle course site will begin.
What does a finished course look like?
While we try to ensure courses adhere to some accepted design standards - and that the design reflects the consistency that students need and want - courses can vary widely depending on things like:
- Is it a first year undergraduate course, a fourth year undergraduate course, a graduate course, a 'capstone' or final research project course, etc.?
- Which program is it in?
- Is it a fully on-campus course, a blended course, or a fully online course?
To get an idea of what a Moodle course site might look like, browse these samples on our Open Educational Resource site:
How long does this take?
The short answer is "It depends", but in reality it takes a long time. Generally, we like to start the design process 6-12 months prior to the course start date. The design team will meet to outline tasks and timelines. There will be times that you can spend hours on your own - conceptualizing lessons, activities and assignments, identifying readings and resources and exploring technologies. There will be other times when you meet with and work with the ID. Other times, you'll talk with the Program Head, testing some of your ideas and getting their input. You will likely meet with various combinations of the design team several times, have multiple phone conversations, and exchange many emails before the job is done.
Getting a good start and meeting deadlines are key, as is understanding your role and responsibilities. Let your team know your schedule and availability so that tasks can be scheduled for realistic deadlines.
More about the process and expectations
Again, the Design Team will work with you. The Learning Design Process is outlined on the CTET website.
What additional supports should I be aware of?
Your ID will provide lots of help and resources. If you're ready to learn more about what is involved in the design process, check these resources.
If you have also been hired to teach, you should take advantage of several CTET workshops. Most are offered multiple times a year and some are special events offered only once. Whether you are in the Victoria area and prefer to attend in person or are someone working from across an ocean and participate online, workshops offered by CTET are available to the public (through Continuing Studies) for a fee but the fee is waived for RRU Associate Faculty
In addition to these regularly scheduled workshops, there are others offered intermittently and publicized through Crossroads news and events that address topics like Intercultural learning, Team-Based Learning, etc.
CTET Studio is a great place to drop in or phone for help.
The Computer Services webpage will help you resolve many technical issues. Be sure to login (upper right-hand corner) to access all available information.
The RRU Library website links to many valuable services and resources. Be sure to check out the Resource Guides, Writing Centre and Copyright Office, for starters.
Communicate, communicate, communicate!
The entire program staff is a friendly, knowledgeable and very helpful group. When in doubt, contact them. They will make you aware of policies, guidelines, procedures and resources that can help you.
Keep an eye on Crossroads and its Events Calendar. There are many events available to associate faculty whether you are local or from a distance. Meeting other instructors and staff will help you learn more about Royal Roads.