Documentation:Course Design Intensive/Facilitators Guidebook/Day 1 Learning Plan

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Preparation for Day 1
  • Readings:
  • Prep document: Planning Your Course Pre-Considerations




All Facilitators - 40 minutes

  • Welcome: Introductions (at your table and facilitators)
  • Pre-Survey - How did we use the information?
  • Burning questions about course design.
  • CDI overview : CDI Outcomes
  • CDI Schedule

Day 1 Learning Outcomes

Theme: Building a Context: Starting With the “Why”?

Essential Question for Day 1: Why might students care about my course?'

By the end of day 1, you should be able to:

  • Explain how the backward design concept applies to the design of your course
  • Articulate big ideas for your course
  • Describe a learner-centered approach to teaching
  • Begin to consider how to incorporate learner-centered design into your course
  • Offer and integrate feedback on course plans in progress.

Course Design: Table Discussions

9:45-10:05 with Isabeau

Discussion: Learner-Centered Teaching and Course Design

Purpose: To activate prior knowledge (and recent information via readings) and experience related to the concept of learner centered teaching and course design.

Table Discussion: at your tables discuss the following:

1. Please share anything you found significant or surprising in the articles that were sent to you as part of the pre-CDI work.

2. How does the concept of "learner-centered" teaching show up in your own practice? Do you have concerns about implementing a learner-centred approach? Are there aspects of learner-centered teaching that you find challenging?

(Please make sure that all table members have a chance to talk and contribute)

Learner Centered Approach

10:05-11:05 with Isabeau

Snapshot: Student Development Theory

Purpose: to support a deeper understanding of the student experience by situating it in student development theory.

Michael Wesch - 2014 at Pasadena City College - excerpt from talk (16:15 -19:40)

Challenge: How do we move students from seeking the right answers to asking their own questions?

Purpose: to introduce key concepts related to learner centeredness in course design.

Group Activity, at your tables, discuss:
  • What characteristics of learner-centered teaching/course design are highlighted in your example. Consider:
  • How does it engage students in the hard, messy work of learning?
  • In what ways is explicit skill instruction included?
  • What opportunities do students have to reflect on what they are learning and how they are learning it?
  • How does it tap into student motivation by giving them some control over the learning processes?
  • How does it encourage collaboration? ; and
  • What would you change/adapt to make it more learner centered (if changes are necessary)?

Please draw from the resources below in your deliberations. Be prepared to report out to the large group: (1) one learner-centered practice featured in this example and (2) one way you could make the activity outlined in the example more learner-centered. Please try to explain these points in a way that doesn't require understanding all the details provided in the example.

Resources for group work:

Plan Your Course: Context and Learners: Independent Work

11:05-11:20 am with Judy

Independent Work: Key Question 1: What factors influence the design of your course?

Focus on your course and use your knowledge of the factors that may influence the design of your course to address the first question from the Course Design Working Doc (please create your own copy)

  • Use the information you gathered for your Planning Your Course: Things to Consider
  • Consider what you know about the learners who are likely to take your course.
  • Identify any other curricular factors or constraints that may have an impact on your course design.

Design Feedback Groups

11:35-12:00 noon

Design Feedback Groups: Group huddle: getting acquainted
  • Introductions: the course you are working on and your anticipated challenges.
  • Collaboratively develop group guidelines and purpose: 1:1 consultation, feedback from peers.


1:00-4:30 pm

Design For Understanding

1:00-2:30 pm with Cindy Note: Arrange yourselves to sit with people in your design feedback group: some disciplinary grouping will support the afternoon's activities.

Why We Need a Why

Cindy (20 min)

Purpose: to offer a bridge between learner centered approach and an afternoon of "big" thinking about your course.

Bridge In: Reflection

What do you hope endures for students long after your course is over? Resource: Visioning activity from Planning Your Course: Things to consider pre-work doc 5 minutes.

  • prompt: excerpt from Michael Wesch's reflection on Connected Courses.
  • What's the "why" of your course?
  • Why should students take it - why should they care about what you are teaching?
  • What's the real "why" of your discipline?

Make a few notes on these questions to come back to later in the day.

Backward Design Framework: Alignment and Process

Purpose: to introduce the backward design framework and key concepts related to designing for understanding.

Group Activity (30 minutes): At your table, discuss:
1. big ideas : As a group and using the criteria, identify one or 2 examples of big ideas relevant to your discipline. Debrief - share back 1 example and rationale for your choice.
2. essential questions (work with and identify as a group using criteria;): share back 1 example and why it is an essential question (rationale).

BREAK : 10 minutes

Plan Your Course: Big Ideas, Essential Questions and Priorities

Cindy: 2:30-4:00pm

Purpose: to offer an opportunity for working with big ideas and essential questions at a disciplinary level.

Independent work: Sketching your course design: big ideas, essential questions and priorities

This is your opportunity to identify the big ideas (enduring understandings) and essential questions relevant to your course and identify what learners will need to understand, know, do, be aware of in order to grapple with those big ideas and essential questions.

Consider the essential question for this phase of your course design process: what is worthy of understanding in my course?


  • Course Design Working Doc (please create your own copy) - Focus: Key Question 2: : What Core Understandings Guide the Learning?

Setting Priorities: Course Mapping Activity

Purpose: to offer a non-linear way to approach your course design.

Optional activity: Brainstorm your course design using concept mapping

Starting from your enduring understandings/essential questions - work out from there (in concept map fashion) to identify:

  • what concepts will students need to know in order to grapple with these big ideas and essential questions?(resources/concepts, etc)
  • what do I need to provide?
  • what can they reasonably learn about/reference on their own?
  • what can they make, do, experience to help them learn?

Wrap up to continue on your own at home as needed to help you flesh out your course priorities in preparation for identifying some course learning outcomes for homework before Wednesday.

Debrief and Feedback

4:00-4:30 pm with Judy

  • Re-cap of Day 1 with Judy
  • Revisit burning questions
  • Pre-day 2, Brief overview of Day 2 and Day 3

Feedback to team

  • At the end of Day 1 of CDI, I am inspired by ...
    • Enter your top three one-word answers here:
    • Using code: 45 14 96
  • The Muddiest Point of Day 1
    • Intro to discussion on wiki page
    • Formative Assessment (CAT)

Homework for Day 2


Day 2 will unpack the learning outcomes and alignment homework we will give you as pre-work for Day2. We will then focus on the principle of alignment, and backwards design in more detail - as well as assessment methods to assist student learning.

1. Complete Key Question 3 on your Course Design Working Doc. This will help you define your priorities for your course.

2. Refine your priorities to create beginning learning outcomes for your course and share them so that others can learn from your approach.

A) Using the resources below, post at least 4 learning outcomes for your course as a whole according to your priorities in this Google spreadsheet. Consider what you intend for your learners to take away from your course:

  • what will they understand?
  • what will they know, do/apply?
  • what should they be familiar with?
  • what might they value differently (or shift their attitudes about) as a result of their work in the course?

B) For each of the 4 learning outcomes for your course that you post, explain which of the taxonomies you have chosen to construct your learning outcomes from, and why you think the taxonomy you chose facilitates the learning outcomes for your students' learning best.


3. Watch Roselynn Verwood's screencast on iterating your syllabus and aligning course outcomes. We will debrief the screencast on Day 2 as an introduction to how to align your course.

Day 1 Resources

Note: core resources for Day 1 are bolded.

Course Design


Online Course Design

Alternate Course Design Planning Approaches

  • Concept Maps

Learning Centered Practice

Diversity and Inclusion

Universal Design

  • Universal Design - UBC-O resource to help faculty with principles that can assist in designing inclusive speeches, presentations, and lectures.

Group Work

Expert-Novice Thinking



  • Consultation related to the selection and use of learning technology to help you meet learning outcomes:


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