What does instructional design look like? Post 4 – Creating a Pattern & Flow for the Course

This is the 4th in a series of blog posts outlining the collaborative process of designing an online course for the first time from scratch. You can read the other posts here.

Photo by Eduardo Olszewski on Unsplash

Prior to this meeting the instructional designer reviewed the contents of module 2 and put together a listing of ideas for how the content could be conveyed. The agenda for meeting 4 included:

  1. Overall questions
    1. Consideration of a “flow for the week” (see details below)
    2. What is the grading structure for the course?
    3. How do you assess participation? (I wrote a blog post inspired by this discussion here.)
    4. Plan for synchronous meeting sessions 
    5. Zoom room link details for incorporation in Canvas site
  2. Check in on Module 1 Progress
  3. Discuss Module 2

This week’s discussion focused on the importance of creating a repeatable weekly course structure or flow that students can use to plan their time. We settled on the outline below:

  • Sunday – new module content (for week after the current week) is released and previous module assignments are due by 11:59 pm (not including discussion activities)
  • Sunday, Monday & Tuesday – Complete module reading and initial discussion prompt
  • Wednesday – Complete responses to online discussions
  • Thursday – Synchronous session online (via Zoom) from 4 – 6 pm
  • Friday & Saturday – Complete assignments to be submitted by 11:59pm Sunday evening.

This information was included on a page titled “About this Course” in the Canvas site under the heading “Structure and Time Commitment”. The professor was also able to share the grading scheme prior to the meeting which allowed me to incorporate this information into the About the Course page as well as create assignment groups to correspond with the different grading category percentages.

It was determined that the synchronous sessions would provide a time when the faculty member could address various topics in a more flexible format that would allow her to adjust and respond to student feedback that occurs earlier in the week through discussion forums, activities, and entrance tickets. The team also formalized the integration of the Zoom room into the Canvas site and discussed setting up a test scenario during j-term that would allow the faculty member to practice using breakout rooms and other Zoom room functionality.

Course content was not yet ready to share so the team decided to focus their work on getting as much of the course structure and repeatable components in place prior to the end of the year so that content could be loaded into the course relatively easily. This shifted the heavier time burden from the end of the year to the beginning of the year. After looking at my projected future workload, I explained that I would still be available to support Anne but since time was budgeted to be more heavily used in 2018, I could not ensure that other priorities might come online at the start of 2019. This conversation highlighted the importance of planning, time-lining, consistent communication, and expectation-setting when working collaboratively on course development projects. In the end, workload did not pose any problems moving forward, but given the unpredictability of each semester – it was important to have this conversation early so there were no surprises.

Anne planned out extensive curriculum development and loading over the course of the month of January and meeting times were set and confirmed. No outstanding action items were set for Heather as most of the outstanding work was to collect course content before additional design work could begin.

What does instructional design look like? Post 3 – Starting to build

This is the 3rd in a series of blog posts outlining the collaborative process of designing an online course for the first time from scratch. You can read the other posts here.

Photo by Lauren Mancke on Unsplash

Prior to the meeting Professor Anne Campbell was able to share an outline for the course which broke out course content into weekly modules with different content focuses. Based on this information I focused on pulling apart module 1 and trying to reconfigure the content using online learning components. This resulted in a group of ideas and questions that would serve as the focus of meeting 3. The agenda for meeting 3 was:

I.    Overall course questions

  1. When should modules be unlocked/viewable?Two weeks in advance of assignment dates.
  2. Are texts online or hard copy? – Both
  3. Home page view options – Learn more here. We decided to use the pages home page option with a link to weekly module format
  4. Academic honesty guidelines- We created an academic honesty quiz with references to policies at the institute. The Academic Integrity Tutorial is another option designed for Middlebury College undergraduate students.
  5. Support available to students – we built pages for library and technical support into the Canvas template for the course.
  6. Communication plan – we began to brainstorm a communication plan that used a set pattern from week to week

II.     Build Out Brainstorm of Module 1

  1. Heather shared ideas and solicited feedback about potential design

During the conversation the concept of entrance and exit tickets came up as a way to manage both formative and summative assessment based on weekly activities. We also discussed having assignments and activities build on one another so that students are given opportunities to refine their ideas and work in the course as they learn more.

Action items for the next meeting included:

  • Adding a introduction discussion forum to week 1 (Heather)
  • Add support materials to Canvas site (Heather)
  • Adjust reveal timing of modules (Heather)
  • Begin designing quest activity (Heather)
  • Collect and share course content (Anne)

What does instructional design look like? (WDIDLL) – Episode 2 – Digging in

This is the 2nd in a series of blog posts outlining the collaborative process of designing an online course for the first time from scratch. You can read the first post here.

Meeting 2

Since we had not met for a month meeting two was a bit of a review session where Anne and I went back over course details and Anne outlined some items that had been worked out a bit more. She explained that she was still working with other professors to finalize the curriculum and readings. Since the course was going to be cross listed, this meant that more professors would need to be consulted.

We also discussed how the time limitations of the course (1/2 of a semester) might impact the depth and complexity of the activities that could be assigned. We decided that the best place to start would be an outline of how Anne would teach the course if she were teaching it in person. That would serve as our starting point to build from.

Action steps for the next meeting included:

  • Creating a Canvas course shell – Heather
  • Creating a course outline for how this course would be taught in person – Anne
  • Finalize goals and objectives – Anne

Photo by Jessica Lewis on Unsplash

What does instructional design look like?

In this new series of posts I’ll give an overview of what instructional design looks like in process. Over the course of the 2018 – 2019 academic year I partnered with Professor Anne Campbell a faculty member in Monterey who was interested in designing a 2 credit cross-listed class titled “Data Interpretation and Presentation.” The course was cross-listed between international education management and DPPG and ran the second half of the spring semester of 2019.

This project was the first experience for both Anne and I in working collaboratively on developing an online course. Over the course of the development period we came up with a number of structures that can be reproduced to guide the development of future online development cycles. In this series of posts I’ll share what occurred at each weekly meeting, tools that we created to help guide our development, and things we learned along the way.

Meeting 1

During the initial meeting we discussed the general concept of the course including topics such as how online curriculum is viewed by other faculty members, who is the intended audience for the course, what curriculum currently existed for the course (none), and what curricular need the course intended to address.

We also discussed the pedagogy for the course which would focus on a project-based component as well as the overall timeline for development and deployment of the course. The ideal launch date was determined to be mid-March and at that point we set to work identifying what the weekly workload amount would be based on that timeline and how that would impact the design of the course. Components such as synchronous and asynchronous time commitments were discussed. Our draft timeline is below.

We set up a weekly meeting time to commence in a month after Anne had completed some outside commitments.

Timeline/Checklist – Launch Date – 3/25

What?Timeline –
complete in
Goals/Objectives identifiedNovember

Readings & course texts identifiedNovember
Determine # and grouping of modulesNovember
Grading scheme set & addedNovember
Determine structure of course/home pageNovember
Design student feedback mechanism & scheduleDecember
Design a communication plan (announcements,
social media, email, )
List, schedule & plan synchronous sessionsDecember

Copyright/Fair Use review completeDecember

Activities identifiedDecember
Assessments identified December
Start sequencing of activities, assessments & communications planDecember

Embed support materials into course and integrate into communication planDecember

Review alignment of activities & assessments to course goals/objectives December

Complete sequencing of activities, assessments & communications planJanuary

Complete build out of activities & assessments in CanvasJanuary

Testing of course contentFebruary 18th start**

Set up open office hours & sign upsFebruary

Modifications to content & retestingFebruary

Introduce yourself – discussion board – make it creativeMarch – 2 weeks prior

Final checkMarch – 2 weeks prior

Video/warm welcome March – 1 week prior