What is a course redesign and the role of the instructional designer?
An instructional designer applies this systematic methodology (rooted in instructional theories and models) to design and develop content, experiences, and other solutions to support the acquisition of new knowledge or skills. Instructional designers ought to begin by conducting a needs assessment to determine the needs of the learning event, including: what the learner should know and be able to do as a result of the training or learning solution, and what the learners already know and can do.
Instructional designers are then responsible for creating the course design and developing all instructional materials, including presentation materials, participant guides, handouts, and job aids or other materials. Instructional designers are commonly also responsible for evaluating training, including assessing what was learned and whether the learning solution led to measurable behavior change. Here at JU, the instructional designers will assist you in developing engaging learning environments that meet the needs of the 21st century learners.
Why redesign a course?
Course redesign and revision can be an opportunity to review the course as a whole, to rethink just one or two elements, or to try one new thing. Or maybe you need to adapt a course for a longer or shorter semester.
You may want to consider redesigning an existing course or even part of one—say, an assignment or the navigation layout. Some possible reasons:
Lack of effectiveness of a course element, as shown by poor student performance, lower than optimal grades or passing rates, negative comments on student course evaluations, peer input on the curriculum or design, or frequent questions and confusion evidenced on the part of students.
Program changes necessitating updates and major changes for your course. In this case, your academic director may have specific templates or features in mind.
The discovery of new tools and resources that might be more engaging to students and stimulate your own enthusiasm or, for online courses, software changes that provide new opportunities and features.
On a side note.
Instructional designers at JU can assist you with creating engaging instructional practices based on science and the needs of the JU scholar, including developing modular activities and setting up the BlackBoard learning space according to your ideas and wishes, but you are the expert in your content area. As such, you will be responsible for gathering instructional materials and providing them to the ID in a timely fashion so the development of the course can occur. Failure to collaborate effectively with the JU ID team will result in the inability to develop your course.
BEST PRACTICES WHEN DESIGNING A COURSE
Always analyze the revise instruction to better meet the needs of your scholars - if something is not working as intended, investigate why and modify your practice for the next implementation.
Quality content and primary resources - With technology advances, students today have access to experts in their field; recorded lectures from pioneers working in the industry. Engaging technical simulations that can give scholars practice and provide engagement. Are you using the resources available to provide relevant learning experiences?
Less is more: part of designing effective instruction is knowing your audience. What works best for your learners? In a rapidly evolving technological landscape, scholars today, especially gen Z scholars, are social, mobile, digital, and capable of multi-tasking. Are you using these unique traits to maximize student output?
Interactivity and engagement should be structured and planned out for each unit or lesson. How are students actively participating?
1) Keep it short. The attention spans of learners, while still in need of additional scholarly research, is much shorter than an hour long video lecture. In a day and age when scholars interact in an on-demand, hyper-digital atmosphere, chunking information to 5 minute topics helps increase engagement and promote learning.
2) Use video, but don't overdo it. Chunking video, talking about overarching concepts and weekly activities gives remote learners an opportunity to feel connected to their professor. Contact our media production lab to produce a high-quality introductory video to welcome learners to your course.
3) Keep it simple. One of the benefits of remote learning is the flexibility it affords. Analyze the objectives and goals of the lesson, and use tools needed to master those goals and objectives. If you find yourself just looking for activities to "fill out" the course, give your students that time to deepen their understanding on concepts pertinent to them.
4) Create interactive elements. Instructional designers at JU can assist you in creating interactive activities that students can use to test their skills and demonstrate their knowledge. Using a variety of activities and approaches helps break up text-heavy courses and increases engagement by nature of their design.
Use some community building exercises and venture outside of the written word. If you are not measuring writing comprehension, why not give students the opportunity to respond with video using Kaltura or Flipgrid? Breaking up the activities to feature items that give scholars their voice helps students "see" one another in a way that is beneficial to fostering community.
Find a way to give your scholars a voice and social presence and learning communities will grow. Microsoft Teams is a great supplemental collaboration platform that can help build that social community outside of Blackboard. You can also think about having a sandbox discussion board where students can go to collaborate and learn together.
Text heavy courses can really drain a student without any media to breakup the visuals of the text. Is there a video you can use to illustrate the concept? How about a visual? Remember- having only text is not the most accessible form of course design- using multimedia in a variety of ways will help provide a more equitable learning environment while stimulating interest. For example, info-graphics can present content heavy text in an easy-to-digest manner, brief instructional videos can demonstrate a topic rather than just have scholars read about it. At JU, instructional designers can create these instructional solutions for you.
Give scholars choices. If the scholars have experience with multiple platforms or presentation tools, give them the choice for completing activities. For example, one could write a paper on a topic, create a PowerPoint presentation, or compose a video to break up the content giving students a choice between presentation modalities fosters creativity and freedom of expression.
Design for the real world! Long lectures do not match the real world, which consumes media in rapid, bite-sized chunks of information. Tie in current, real world issues with the course, using presentation methods, programs, and activities that are part of the scholars' shared experiences. Further, does using the same instructional material for years on-end reflect the constant change, evolution, and rapid discovery of our current climate? As educators, our practice should be in a state of constant evolution, adjusting based on the shared inquiry between yourself and your students.
You are the content expert! A textbook can give information and instructions, assignments and assessments can measure growth and goal attainment, but the relationship between yourself, someone who has lived and worked in this subject, and the students, many of whom are discovering their passions, is the key to connection and competency.