Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Course redesign: Why now?

Prevailing trends in higher education make this not only an opportune moment to rethink how we design and deliver instruction to our students. This is a moment, I believe, when we must fundamentally examine and revise our design of learning experiences. Whereas there is no one single pre-packaged design that will work for all courses, course redesign entails rethinking how students spend their time both in course and out of course and almost always means devoting significantly less time in class to delivering content.

Future posts will describe the range of course redesign options and establish some minimum criteria for what I consider to be a fully redesigned course. At the outset, we need to establish the case--why is course redesign urgent at this juncture in higher education? Why does course redesign make so much sense for Metropolitan State University of Denver, which operates under a mission similar to most other regional comprehensive universities? What do we risk by not fundamentally redesigning how our students interact with course material, with each other, and with their instructors?

One quick note: The case I am making in this series of course redesign posts is intended to lay the groundwork for a university-wide initiative, spearheaded by the Center for Faculty Development, to promote course redesign and to support faculty who voluntarily agree to engage in the process. More details about that initiative are forthcoming in the fall.

I identify 3 reasons why it is both opportune and urgent for us to rethink and redesign our courses. Each of these reasons will be expanded on in subsequent posts. In short, redesigned courses can respond to:

  1. Our knowledge of how people learn.
  2. Challenging trends that, if left unanswered, are working against student engagement and persistence.
  3. Competition and potential disruption aimed at "traditional" bricks & mortar universities.