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

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Preparation before Day 1

1.  Read the following article:

2. Please watch the following video:  Backwards Design Video Time: approx 6 mins

3. Complete this exercise: Instructions for Empathy mapping - Time: approx. 45 mins. Please review the instructions for the mapping exercise first. You will need to print a copy of the one-page map (or recreate it on paper) before you begin. Be sure you bring a hard copy of your completed map to the workshop.

4. Complete the One-Sentence Challenge: You are speaking with a niece or nephew who has expressed some interest in your work as an instructor. They have asked you about your course (the one you have selected to focus on during the CDI).  How would you describe it in a way that is clear, captures purpose, and could elicit interest or curiousity in your relative? Remember that this person is not in your field/disciplinary area and may not have any prior experience with post-secondary environments.

[You’ll have the opportunity to come back to this during Day 2 and 3, and this will inform your revised course description.] ☂

5. Complete Part A of the CDI Workbook. Please reflect on the course you are re/designing and complete questions 1-4.

Bring all of your completed pre-work to Day 1 of the CDI.



Day 1 Learning Outcomes

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

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

The CDI focuses on the application of the backward design approach. On Day 1 you will understand how "big ideas" may be useful in guiding the design of your course. You will work in design feedback groups to offer and integrate feedback on course plans in progress. By the end of day 1, you should be able to:

  • Apply the backward design concept to the design of your course
  • Articulate "big ideas" for your course
  • Integrate learner-centered considerations into your course design
  • Prioritize course level learning that aligns with your "big ideas"


Isabeau and all facilitators- 15 minutes

  • Welcome + Territorial Acknowledgement
  • Facilitator Introductions
  • Purpose of program (program outcomes)
  • 3-day outline & consultations
  • Today's agenda
  • Housekeeping & Resources:
    • CDI Workbook
    • CDI Learning Plans & Resources (necessary vs. optional)
  • Group guidelines
  • Pre-Survey - Diversity in the room


9:15 - 9:40 with Isabeau

Through a series of value lines and clusters, get to know one another, and the similarities and differences of the various courses you are working on.

Find someone you don't know. Share your One-Sentence Challenge. Second round, share with someone else.

Discussion: Learner-Centered Approach

9:40 - 9:50 with Sue

Purpose: To activate prior knowledge and share experience related to the concepts of learner-centered approaches and course design, introduced through the pre-work.

At your table groups, discuss the pre-work reading focused on learner-centred approaches:

From your readings, and in your experience, what are your conceptions and concerns about a learner-centred approach? Add your ideas to the sticky notes and then to the wall. (10 mins)

Learner Centered Approach

9:50-11:15 with Sue

Purpose: to introduce key concepts related to a learner centered approach, learner centred teaching and learner centred course design.

Break- 10 mins

Empathy mapping activity

10:30 - 11:15 with Sue

Purpose: to conceptualize learner-centred course design by situating your course from a learner’s perspective.

Part 1: Analyze

Consider each of the 3 human core ideas related to learner centeredness and inclusivity: belonging, relevance and diversity of experience. Examine your map for all behaviors associated with the need to belong, the need for relevance, and needs around diversity of experience:

  • Yellow Marker: circle those behaviours associated with the need to belong
  • Orange Marker: circle those behaviours associated with the need for Relevance
  • Pink marker: circle those behaviours associated with the need for Diversity of Experience.

Analyze your map again. Does this spur on any new insights for you on the needs of your students? Does it help you think about the Student's Point of View? If so, revise the POV statement, or add your insights on sticky notes. (10 mins)

Part 2: Share

Pair up, and take turns sharing your maps. Introduce your student and any insights you've had about your student from this activity. (10 mins)

Part 3: Gallery walk & informal debrief

Post your map to the wall. Review the maps of your colleagues, reading their POV-statements and reviewing behaviors associated with the 3 human core ideas (Belonging, Relevance and Diversity of Experience).

*Provide feedback: If you have any insights while reviewing your peers' maps, please write it down on a sticky note and add it to their map. (15 mins)

Part 4: Document your insights

What insights about students can you take back to your course design?

Document your insights in Part A of your Workbook. These insights will guide your decisions as you plan your course. (5 mins) 


Introduction to Learner Centred Course Design

11:15-12:00 pm with Gillian

Purpose: to introduce our design framework and key concepts.

Big Idea activity

Purpose: to examine examples of Big Ideas, exploring how they do or do not meet the criteria,

Working in table groups, review the pairs of Big Ideas. Each pair contains one example that doesn't meet the criteria for Big Ideas, and one that does. Document your choices on a flipchart.



Reflections on a Course Design (Part 1): John Vigna- Creative Writing

1:00 pm - 1:45 pm

Purpose: to offer a relevant example of course design as it looks in practice.

John will share his experience with re-designing a course in Creative Writing.

Big Ideas & Essential Questions

1:45pm - 2:00pm with Gillian

Exploring the connection between Big Ideas and Essential Questions.

Required Resources:

Plan Your Course: Big Ideas and Essential Questions

2:00 - 2:35 pm with Gillian

Independent work: Identify your big ideas and essential questions

This is your opportunity to identify the big ideas and essential questions that can lead your students to enduring understandings relevant to your course.

Record your ideas in your CDI Workbook.

Ask yourself one or more of the following questions as you consider the intention of your course:

●     Why study ....? Why should we care about...?

●     What makes the study of ..."universal"?

●     If this course was a story, what's the moral of the story?

●     What's the big idea underneath the skill or process of...?

●     What larger issue, problem or concept underlies...?

●     What couldn't we do if we didn't understand...?

●     How is ... used and applied in the world?

●     How would we be changed if we understood...?


Pair up: If you finish early, pair up or in a group of 3, share your big ideas and essential questions. Help one another to refine those, based on your understanding of the criteria for Big Ideas.

BREAK : 10 minutes

What do Students Need to Understand: Mapping Activity

2:45-4:00pm Gillian to introduce

Purpose: to offer a strategy to prioritize what learners will need to understand, know, do, be aware of in order to grapple with those big ideas and essential questions.

Brainstorm your students' learning using concept mapping

Starting from your why, your big ideas, and essential questions - work out from there to identify:

  • what concepts will students need to know in order to grapple with the big ideas and essential questions?
  • what will students need to do/ practice/ develop/work with/value in order to sufficiently learn those concepts.
  • NOTE: we are not asking you HOW you will get there (ie. not teaching/learning activities)
  • How do concepts connect?
  • Where do priorities emerge?

After concept mapping, share your draft with a peer. Take turns sharing your map.

Purpose: to explain to someone else how your course concepts map onto the Big Ideas and Essential Questions (which will help you refine your course-level learning priorities)

  •  Ask your partner: Where did you start? What are your Big Ideas?
  • What concepts will students need to grapple with in order to understand the Big Ideas?
  • What will students need to do/practice/develop/work with/value in order to learn those concepts? Why?
  • How do the concepts connect?

This process is meant to help you refine your Big Ideas, Essential Questions, and identify course-level learning priorities

Bridge Out Revisioning Activity

Purpose: to re-visit your intentions for supporting student learning.

Your Student in the Future

5 minutes.

Re-visit your homework (CDI Workbook, Part A, Question 4) where you imagined it is two years from now and you've run into one of your students who had taken your class this year. They were telling you that the most important thing they learned in your class was X.

Do you have any changes to what you hope X is? Write this down.

(Reflect: is this captured within your Big Idea?)

Debrief and Feedback

4:00-4:30 pm with Isabeau

  • Re-cap of Day 1
  • Day 2 homework
  • Consultation sign-up on Tuesday & Thursday
  • Brief overview of Day 2 and Day 3
  • Revisit burning questions, Parking lot, Muddiest Point

Feedback to team

  • At the end of Day 1 of CDI, I am feeling ...
    • Enter your top three one-word answers here:
    • Using code: 57 71 03

Homework at the end of Day 1: Setting Priorities


1. Review your course maps to develop priorities for learning. Refer to your CDI Workbook to complete the “Priorities chart” of the CDI Workbook.

2. Share up to 4 of your priorities for learning in this Google spreadsheet (first three columns)] before 9 am on Day 2 of the CDI.

3. Once you have submitted your priorities on the Google spreadsheet, review the following document, Taxonomies of Learning, which highlights 3 different taxonomies of learning:

  • Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educacational Objectives
  • Fink’s Taxonomy of Significant Learning
  • Wiggins & McTighe’s Facets of Understanding

Review the 3 taxonomies, asking yourself:

  • Which taxonomy resonates for you in terms of your priorities and what you hope your students will demonstrate? You might even choose a different taxonomy for each priority you’ve identified (but you don't have to).
  • What particular category best describes each of your priorities? (e.g. Analyze, Empathy, Application ….)

Makes notes of these in your CDI workbook.

4. Review your One-Sentence Challenge. Would you revise this in any way based on your how you are now thinking about your course?

Day 1 Resources

Course Design


Online Course Design

Alternate Course Design Planning Approaches

  • Concept Maps

Learning Centered Practice

Learning Outcomes

Belonging, 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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