Understand how course delivery and instructional approaches will affect design choices.
The first two factors that will affect course design are:
Choosing a teaching approach, or a combination of approaches, is directed by one's beliefs about learning. Further, whether you plan to teach online, in person or through another mode, this will influence your teaching approach and affect the experiences you provide to your students. Because these factors impact each other as well as the broad scope of your course, we must first explore these options and their potential tradeoffs.
There are several modes or ways that instruction can be delivered. Each provide different opportunities for learning.
|Teaching Mode||In Person||Online||Real Time|
Online - Synchronous
Online - Asynchronous
|Y||Y (Majority)||Y (In Person) |
Hybrid Flexible (HyFlex)
|Y||Y||Y (In Person) |
Y and N, can choose (Online)
Keep in mind possible teaching modes as we next consider how you will teach your students.
There are two main approaches to instruction in higher education: teacher-centered and student-centered. Your approaches will significantly impact your students’ learning experiences as well as their ability to understand new concepts and transfer knowledge.
Instructor provides information to student
Student builds understanding with guidance of instructor
|Behaviorism: Learning consists of inputs (information) delivered to students and outputs (student behavior) such as performances on exams, essays, or presentations||Constructivism: Students build understanding using prior knowledge and new experiences|
Singular: Teacher actions and content coverage
|Shared: Student action and teacher facilitation|
Deliver information, measure outcomes, reinforce behavior through process and rules
|Provide experiences and guide meaning making|
Passive learning, take in information
Active learning, construct understanding
Coaching and Facilitating:
|Assessment Role||Sort Learners||Guide Learners|
Teacher-centered and student-centered approaches are neither good nor bad. Their use depends on your learning outcomes and context. For example, modeling a chemistry experiment may be the best way to demonstrate processes in the lab, while in other parts of your course, students use guided practice to complete lab experiments with a partner. Further, both approaches may be evident within a single lesson or module.
Keep the following considerations in mind when you choose an approach:
1. Tradeoffs: The following are pros and cons for each approach:
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2. Learning Outcomes: Always consider your learning outcomes and how students will best achieve these.
3. Meaning Making and Prior Knowledge: Constructivism asserts that while instructors can deliver information, only students can make meaning of it. How difficult this meaning making may be will determines how much guidance, feedback, or support should be provided. This will be determined both by the complexity of the topic and students’ prior knowledge. A student-centered approach will allow you to determine prior knowledge and adjust guidance accordingly.
These considerations will be guided throughout the course design process. For now, remember that there are several approaches to teaching and that their use will depend on various factors. It is best to be open to diverse approaches, exploring their effectiveness in supporting student learning while building your teaching toolkit. As we continue through the course design process, it is important to keep in mind how your delivery mode can influence your teaching approaches and vice versa. Both aspects can create opportunities and limitations within your course and its design.
Now that you have considered the mode you might deliver in and how to approach instruction, next we need to consider the remaining situational factors that will influence course design.