February 10, 2021
Volume 5, Number 2
7 Innovative Approaches to Course Design
The pandemic-driven switch to remote learning alerted many faculty members to the importance of course design. In an online course, keeping students on track requires clarity and structure; it also demands that instructors think intentionally about how to motivate and engage students, prompt interaction, and assess student learning without the crutch of in-person proctoring.

One can only hope that the pandemic is nearing its end, and hope, too, that the budding concern with course design will persist. So let me take this opportunity to discuss seven innovative learning- and learner-centered approaches to course design that seek to encourage student participation, critical thinking, and metacognition and reflexivity, and promote social-emotional development.

First, let’s look at three approaches that dominate course design today.
The standard approach to course design, which I suspect all instructors have used at one time or another, is to compile and arrange a list of topics that one wants to cover. A topical approach offers a number of advantages: it’s easy; all one has to do is glance at how other faculty have organized similar classes and copy or modify their syllabi. This approach also ensures content coverage, and, if done well, a logical and progressive topical sequence.

A topical approach that emphasizes content, coverage and information transfer is, of course, out of step with the times -- even when it is supplemented with video, animations, online tutorials and interactive problem sets. Most campuses now expect instructors to specify a series of measurable learning objectives that spell out the knowledge and skills students are expected to acquire and be able to demonstrate.

Supplanting the topical approach are two common alternatives:

1. Backward Design

Backward design offers the simplest way to ensure that a course has clearly specified learning objectives. Just plan backward to move forward. The guiding principle is to begin with the end in mind. Start by specifying the outcomes that you want your students to attain, and then design a sequence of activities that will help students acquire the understandings and competencies you seek, then create assessments that measure whether your class members have met your learning goals.

But backward design isn’t a panacea. For one thing, specifying learning objectives with the proper level of precision ain’t easy. It’s really hard to come up with measurable learning objectives that aren’t too simple or too complex, too narrow or too broad, and, above all, too numerous. After all, for the design process to be truly successful, it has to achieve a level of granularity that isn’t practical.

But there’s a deeper problem. Backward design doesn’t sufficiently take into account a basic fact: students differ. An approach that might work for one class might well be inappropriate for another. Teaching requires a degree of improvisation, adaptation and personalization that backward design doesn’t accommodate well. Our desired outcomes may well remain fixed, but our teaching strategies often need to change. After all, there isn’t one path to heaven.

2. Learner-Centered Course Design

An alternative to backward design is an approach that begins not with the outcomes but with an analysis of the learners, their needs, characteristics, expectations and prior knowledge, and the constraints on learning (for example, the amount of time that learners can reasonably be expected to devote to the course). ADDIE is an example of learner-centered course design. After analyzing the learners and their needs, this instructional design approach the desired learning outcomes and the best ways of delivering instruction. It is then followed by design, development, implementation and evaluation phases.

A learner-centered, student-focused approach certainly makes sense. But this approach also has its own weaknesses. It places a heavy burden on the instructor, who must develop activities aligned with the students’ needs and interests, which almost certainly vary widely. After all, your students differ radically in their level of preparation, learning goals, motivation and level of engagement. So what, then, are the alternatives to backward design and learner-centered design?

Here are seven innovative approaches that you might consider as you design or redesign your courses.

To continue reading this article click here

by Steven Mintz, Inside Higher Ed.

Hello MSU Educators,

Morehead State University is now part of the Online Learning Consortium (OLC)!

What is the OLC?

The Online Learning Consortium (OLC) is a collaborative community of higher education leaders and innovators, dedicated to advancing quality digital teaching and learning experiences designed to reach and engage the modern learner – anyone, anywhere, anytime. OLC inspires innovation and quality through an extensive set of resources, including best-practice publications, quality benchmarking, leading-edge instruction, community-driven conferences, practitioner-based and empirical research, and expert guidance.

What this means to you and your fellow MSU educators is another venue for information, advice, guidance and resources related to online teaching and learning! Now you are wondering how you can access these fine resources. You just need to go to: https://onlinelearningconsortium.org/

Click "LOGIN" and then fill out the form.

After creating your account you will have access to the many resources of the OLC. One of these resources is the "Faculty Playbook" that was used as the guiding document for our Online Teaching Workshops that occurred in the Summer and Fall. Webinars are also offered and here are a few titles that may be of interest:
  • Instructional Design & Course Planning for OER
  • Supporting Your Child With Online Learning: A Webinar for Parents
  • Effective Facilitation of Online Discussions with Students
  • How Can I Teach Anatomy and Physiology Online Using Lab Kits?

After exploring the OLC site, let us know if there are any questions fctl@moreheadstate.edu. We are looking forward to exploring and utilizing this resource.
What I Love About Teaching Campaign
Hello Educators,
We are looking for your response to the question "What I love about teaching?"

Take a few moments to share your response by clicking the link below:
Events on Campus
Here are opportunities for students (and maybe you) on campus:

MSU Event:
  • Resume Lab - Tuesday, February 16, 2:00pm to 4pm. Your resume is the key to making a great first impression and landing an interview. Let the staff at Career Services help you create the best resume possible whether you’re starting from scratch or looking for feedback on one you already wrote. Make your resume stand out today! Additional Information can be found at: https://moreheadstate.campuslabs.com/engage/event/6705662

Hosted by: Career Services

Online Location: https://bit.ly/3gU7Vfu

Thursday, February 11, 2021, 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM ET

Project-based learning (PBL) is a powerful mechanism for engaging students and helping them apply what they’re studying to real-world settings. But how can educators effectively use PBL in predominantly online learning environments?

In this one-hour webinar, Lucy Swedberg, Editorial Director of Harvard Business Publishing’s Higher Education team, leads a conversation with experienced PBL educators about ensuring project-based learning can still be effective online. Panelists include Terri Albert, Ph.D., educator and CEO, Fresh Set of Eyes; Michellana Jester, Lecturer, Global Economics and Management, MIT Management; and Alan MacCormack, Professor, Harvard Business School.

This webinar will explore:
  • What project-based learning is—and how it works
  • How project-based learning develops students’ action-based skills (“soft skills”)
  • Examples of how educators can incorporate project-based learning into their course curriculum, particularly in online and hybrid classes
  • How educators should determine if project-based learning is right for their courses
  • Tips for how educators can source the right projects for their students
  • Best practices from faculty leaders in project-based learning

If you are interested but cannot attend, please register as all registrants with be provided access to the webinar recording.

After attending the webinar feel free to let me know your thoughts and take-aways.
Teaching and Learning Innovation Conference

University of Tennessee, Knoxville announces registration is open for its Innovative Teaching and Learning Conference that will be held on Tuesday, March 30, 2021 from 8am - 5:30pm.  

The theme this year is "Lighting the Way to Deeper Learning". The goal is to highlight the importance of good teaching in higher education settings by featuring the innovative teaching practices that occur in this context. The keynote speaker for both breakfast and lunch is Claire Major, a world-renowned teacher, consultant, and scholar.

She is the author or co-author of several books in the field of instructional development that include: Learning Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty; Online Learning: A guide to theory, research, and practice; Teaching for Learning: 101 Intentionally Designed Learning Activities to put Students on the Path to Success, and Collaborative Learning Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty.
The conference is free and virtual. You can now register to attend by clicking here
Registration for the conference closes on March 12, 2021 @5:00pm.
If you have any questions, please contact Ferlin McGaskey at fmcgaske@utk.edu. Feel free to forward this information to your colleagues and friends.

After attending the webinar feel free to let me know your thoughts and take-aways.
NSSE Webinar: High-Impact Practices: Interrogating Participation, Quality and Equity

Wednesday, February 17, 2021, 2pm - 3pm EST

Join Brendan Dugan, Jillian Kinzie, Alex McCormick and special guest NSSE founder, George Kuh, in this interactive webinar to discuss highlights from our Annual Results 2020 – Engagement Insights installment on High-Impact Practices.

The panel will discuss student participation in HIPs, elements of high-quality HIPs, the relationship between HIPs and sense of belonging, and faculty insights. The panelist will share findings from new analyses of quality and equity and showcase a few institutional uses of HIP results.
The webinar is free you can register to attend by clicking here
If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Shannon Harr - s.harr@moreheadstate.edu
"Agile Teaching & Learning"
Sponsored by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE)

Hosted by: Noel Studio for Academic Creativity and Faculty Center for Teaching & Learning, Eastern Kentucky University

When: May 14, 2021 - Virtually

Proposals due: Today, February 10, 2021

The conference theme, “Agile Teaching & Learning,” encourages us to examine and promote responsive strategies for teaching and learning that encourage resilient, engaged, and dynamic approaches within and across online, hybrid, flexible higher-education environments.

Do you have an exceptional strategy to share? Do you have a new theory or practice that might enhance teaching and learning, faculty development, educational practices, or student engagement at your institution and beyond? Presenters are encouraged to engage participants, through interactive activities, demonstrations, or discussions.

Presenters will also have the opportunity to submit their work for consideration in the annual Proceedings, to be published in late 2021.

Questions may be directed to:
Jamie Shaffer
Coordinator, Teaching & Learning Initiatives
Noel Studio for Academic Creativity
Eastern Kentucky University

For more information on the conference: 2021 Pedagogicon

If your proposal is accepted, contact the FCTL to discuss registration cost.
Magna (Online) Webinars
24/7 Educator/Professional Development for Faculty
Featured Webinar:

In Blended Courses, What Should Students Do Online
For instructors interested in exploring blended learning, deciding which course elements to teach face-to-face and which to address through online technology can be a major stumbling block. Learn a framework for making those essential educational judgment calls.

This webinar explores:
  • Bloom's Taxonomy
  • Class Guides
  • Engagement

Benefits of Magna Webinars:

  • Each webinar takes approximately 20 minutes to complete.
  • All webinars are available on your schedule since they are online and easily accessed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Webinars include supplemental materials such as bibliographies and handouts.
  • Certificates of completion are available for professional portfolios and Faculty 180.

Accessing Webinars:

These licensed Magna resources are available through a password-protected website. For access, educators need to:
  • Log into MSU’s employee portal;
  • Look under the My Classes (Blackboard) section for the Magna Training Site;
  • If Magna isn't showing up in your list of courses, please send a request to be added to msuonline@moreheadstate.edu.
  • When you click on the Magna Training Site, the Blackboard shell will open. Select Magna Campus and then launch the LTI link, select 20-Minute Mentor Commons. After selecting 20-Minute Mentor Commons, choose Teaching Blended or Flipped then Blended Learning. Choose the featured title.
Ambassadors for Excellence in Teaching
Morehead State University