The mystery of course design

I spent the day Friday talking about curriculum design with a professional educator and then today I was working on a course that I’ll be teaching in two weeks.  The perfect, ideal, wonderful course always eludes me.  The cycle of course design is unfortunately too long – as we’re teaching a course we think of a great idea and if we’re lucky we write it down.  If we’re really lucky we’ll remember where we wrote it down!  Then we wait at least until the next semester, in most cases though we may have to wait until 8 months later to actually incorporate that awesome new feature.  If it turns out to not be so hot, we’re stuck with it until the current semester is over and then we redesign the next edition.  We’re dealing with a design cycle of about a year from idea to implementation.  I’m the type of person who needs to know if something works NOW, and if it doesn’t, fix it NOW.  So, a few key words of advice (and yes, I’ll remember to check on my own blog to see what I wrote down!): (1) write it down somewhere and also write why you think it was such a hot-to-trot idea, (2) start looking for some research on it, either anecdotal from colleagues or empirical in the literature, (3) think small – don’t try to incorporate the world, be incremental, (4) most importantly document what worked and what didn’t, I’d love to hear your experiences!  Reflective learning is powerful, we just need to take time to do it and be patient as the loop closes.

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