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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Refresh Your Course without (Too Much) Pain and Suffering by Rebecca Brent, EdD

Photo: Faculty Focus
Rebecca Brent, EdD, faculty developer, program evaluator, and president of Education Designs, Inc. summarizes, "See if this sounds familiar."
You’re scheduled to teach a course you have taught before that desperately needs revision. The content and pedagogy go back for a decade or more and are both sadly obsolete, or the grades have been abysmal and the students are threatening to revolt, or someone (the department head, a faculty committee, or you) has decided to offer the course online, or maybe you’re just bored and dread the thought of teaching it again.
We’ve all been there. It’s time to revise the course, but with little extra time to spare, the task seems daunting. It doesn’t have to be! A few relatively straightforward design changes can give any course new life, and you don’t have to do it all at once. Often the best approach is to spread the changes out over several semesters.

Step 1: Identify your reasons for change. Take a little time to think about the last time you taught the course and what problems you noted. Maybe student performance was not at the level you wanted it to be, or elements of the course seemed out of date or boring. You can review student feedback on the course and see whether they had suggestions you’d like to try or concerns you want to address.

Step 2: Gather ideas and resources. Here you have lots of choices. Check with colleagues. Pay a visit to your Center for Teaching and Learning. Scan journals and conference proceedings. Look for online materials, such as course syllabi and handouts and course-relevant videos, screencasts, simulations, case studies, and interactive tutorials. You can find a whole host of quality materials by searching digital resource libraries (e.g., YouTube, Wikimedia Commons, Khan Academy, MERLOT, the National Science Digital Library, and the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science), and by entering “[type of resource][topic]” into a search engine like Google or Bing. Photos can spark new interest to a topic and the Creative Commons on Flickr has a rich collection of images.

If you’re contemplating changes in a class you’re currently teaching, enlist students in finding relevant resources for a few points on the next mid-term exam or homework assignment. (Many of our students are better at navigating the Internet than we are, and they’ll do a lot for a couple of points.) Sometimes something as simple as a new resource can help to perk up a tired course.
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Source: Faculty Focus


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