Instructional designers and educators have one common goal - they want to ensure that they deliver high-quality, effective course materials that meet the needs of unique learners. But, it isn’t an easy feat to accomplish. Researching, creating, designing, and delivering courses that fulfill the objectives of the learning material requires rigorous content analysis and purposeful planning.
It must be ensured that the objectives of the course are in alignment with the student requirements, the content of the teaching material, and the activities carried out. This becomes all the more important for millennials and Gen Z because they aren’t interested in busy work but rather the information that helps them out in the real world.
To increase the efficacy of your curriculum mapping and to deliver the best-intended results with your content, there are some things that every instructional designer and instructor should keep in mind. Let’s discuss those today:
To gain clarity and to avoid futile additions to the course, ask yourself these questions before you embark on your course creation journey:
1- Who are my learners? Who am I creating this course for?
2- Why is this course important? What makes it so necessary for the students?
3- What are my students achieving in this course? What will they be able to accomplish after they are done with the teaching material?
4- What are the best ways to deliver the course? How can my students best learn the subject?
5- How do I know my course will convey the target? What are the ways through which I can measure the progress?
Now, let’s explore these questions in depth:
For successful instructional planning, you must first understand the needs, requirements, challenges, goals, and objectives of the target group. Doing a learner analysis is the first step in ensuring that your content delivery is in line with the aptitude and educational prerequisites of the students.
The learners should be able to understand the content, be able to apply it in practical situations, and deduce the need to implement it at this stage in their educational journey. Doing an audience analysis before developing the course content will aid in understanding what’s useful for the students at this stage in their degree/ life.
To develop a learner profile, you should know the distinct characteristics of your students. The starting point can be:
These are just the starting points. Try to learn as much about your students as possible before the course design.
In extension to the learner profile, auditing the significance of the course is also integral. Understanding the extent of what makes the course you are teaching essential to the development journey of the students can help you design and develop the content reflecting that. Your learners also need to know the unique motivators for the training you are providing. This step is beneficial especially when the course is not mandatory and the students independently decide whether to enroll or not.
Telling students what is in it for them sets the foundation for their expectations and excitement. So, before you create anything else for your course, create a clear outline defining the benefits students will receive so it becomes a foundation for the messaging and lesson plans throughout the semester.
For optional courses, the importance will help acknowledge the real-world, transferable skills that students will receive out of it. So, ensuring that you clearly realize and deliver the significance of teaching what students are going to learn will be a helpful step in setting the right expectations.
There is a fine line between explaining the importance of the course and elucidating the real-life influence it will have on the student’s development. You must be able to answer the things the learners will be able to accomplish once they are done with the learning material. Focusing on aligning the content with the needs and expectations of the students is of utmost importance.
For this purpose, when developing the course content tailor your approach to teach the types of situations in which students will have to apply the learnings. If you are not focusing on what happens after the completion of the course, your purpose of teaching is lost. Students are interested in learning what helps them perform tasks better or deals with problems in their life after graduation.
Spend time designing learning outcomes and attentively remove or replace anything that doesn't directly support the outcomes.
What are the ways through which your students can best learn the subject or skill you are teaching? This question will help you design active learning strategies best used to present the course content.
The first thing you should focus on is finding the structure that is the most conducive to constructive learning. Then, pay attention to creating conditions that will help develop and foster that environment. This approach will help design activities that deliver the subject matter on what students already know and need to cement properly and what they still need to learn.
Hence, when you think about the ways through which you can best deliver the content, you can pay special attention to activities, assessments, teaching methods, and additional materials that guarantee an optimal outcome.
When you start creating the course, don’t consider it one and done. Always leave room for changes and improvements. This should be done even before you put pen to paper and create the content that students will learn. Think about all the ways through which you will assess yourself and your progress throughout the semester as well.
Use the take-home assignments, assessments, quizzes, and group discussions as major ways through which you can collect relevant data. Before you prepare and finalize the course content, deliberately think of all the checkpoints that you can place across the learning process. Use these as a way of collecting data on what’s working, what’s ineffective, and what students need more help with.
Before you create the learning material, think about past experiences with the same course and what topics were the hardest, and which areas students failed the most at. Use that knowledge and information to enhance the learning experience this time around.
Effective course content needs deliberation, careful planning, and smart execution. Incorporating diverse teaching methods and learning strategies helps students gain practical knowledge, implement it, and receive feedback on how they did it.
These five questions serve as a roadmap but always consult with other faculty, educators, and instructional designers if the need be. You can also sign-up with BlendEd or book a demo to see how we can help you streamline the course development process.