Tips for designing a college course

by Julie Dodd

Designing a course is one of the challenging and rewarding parts of teaching and can enable you to combine successful learning ideas and approaches from other instructors with your own teaching insights and skills.

Let me suggest four strategies for developing college courses and recommend readings that can help you dive deeper into thinking about instructional design.

#1 – Consider the big picture of your course

Before you select a course textbook or start inviting guest speakers, step back and consider the big picture of your course.

collage of book covers on teaching advice

Add these four books to your reading list to help you develop strategies for designing courses and improve your teaching.

Start with the goals of the course.

Those may be provided in the form of Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs), which are a list of what students should be able to do by the end of the course. Sometimes the goals are included in the college’s or department’s curriculum standards and sometimes stated in the syllabus that has been used previously for those teaching the course.

If you teach a course that is part of a sequence of courses, you can talk with an instructor of the course students take following the course you are teaching to see what the expectations are of students coming into that course after completing your course. (And those should align with the SLOs for both courses.)

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‘Teaching Naked’ provides strategies & insights into using technology as a college instructor

by Barbara Myslik
Ph.D. student, University of Florida

Barbara Myslik

Barbara Myslik

In his book “Teaching Naked” José Antonio Bowen, the President of Goucher College, presents a fascinating new way of looking at a role technology plays in post secondary education. From the provoking title to the last chapter — filled with useful strategies, tips and insights — Bowen grabs our attention and provokes us to rethink technology as we know it.

The book is divided into three parts.

In Part One, titled “New digital landscape,” Bowen sets up the context. There are three basic truths regarding technology and its relationship with education that the author wants us to embrace before moving on to practical advice.

First, education online, or education using technology is no longer domain of post secondary institutions. Computer users all over the world can gain free access to content delivered in variety of ways suited to their learning preferences with no need for an educational institution intermediary.

That means, the value of what what it is that institutions of higher learning are delivering has to change. Higher education, according to Bowen, can no longer focus on delivering content. It needs to focus on delivering thinking skills to filter, understand, analyze and apply that content to new situations that are a part of our every day life.

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