Foundational Studio: Rethinking Your Course – A Design Thinking Approach
How do you redesign a course to be more student-centred and to make appropriate use of mobile learning? This studio introduces an iterative course design process inspired by the D-School that will allow you to think about how to begin redesigning your course to be more student centred and to create more opportunities for mobile learning.
Opener: The course design approach typically involves establishing:
- what content and topics need to be covered
- what kinds of assignments will students do
- what kinds of assessments will be used to measure learning
What is missing from this approach? What works well with this approach and where does it fall flat?
Step 1 – Empathize: understand the context
By this point in the week you should be understanding that simply adding mobile learning to your course does not necessarily make it more student centred. Therefore is important to take a step back and look at the big picture and examine the context. This stage (in the D-School approach) is called Empathize. In this stage you ask key questions to get at “why student-centred and how much?”; “why mobile?”. This is done by actually asking students in interviews or focus groups or surveys. Questions to ask may include:
- Who are your users (students)?
- What is my student’s access to technology?
- How do mobile devices fit into my student’s lives?
- What is the life situation of the learners (e.g., working, family, professional goals)?
- How do students use social media? How do they use mobile devices?
- How can technology impact their learning?
At the end of this step, you should be able to generate at least one problem that needs to be solved.
Step 2 – Define: Reframe the problem based on what you learned in Step 1
This step involves looking at what the empathy stage uncovered. For example, you might uncover that students would prefer to communicate with each other and as a class using social media instead of the LMS because it is more convenient and accessible. Or you might find that students have easier access to mobile devices than they do a computer.
Are there themes you uncovered in the empathize step?
Step 3 – Ideate: Generate alternatives
This stage involves taking the above information and brainstorming possible ways you can enhance the student’s experience. You should try to “think big” at this stage: don’t think too much about the how, just generate the ideas. In thinking about how to make your course more student centred and mobile, you might ask:
- What parts of my course need to happen in class, and what can happen outside of class?
- What is the best use of in-class time?
- How would a more flexible schedule help my students’ learning?
- What parts of my course can take advantage of mobile devices or technology?
- How much content needs to be created by me?
- Are there places where course activities can be connected to other students in the world? (eg. connected courses)
- How can student assessments and activities be more authentic or real world?
- Does my course need to be closed? Can it benefit from being open?
Blended learning design approaches can be very helpful at this stage. They can help you to first of all determine how to rethink your course in terms of in class and out of class components.
Example: Here’s an example of what thinking about your course in terms of in class and out of class activities could look like: https://blended.online.ucf.edu/files/2011/07/holland_venn_diagram.pdf
However, in blending, it’s also important to think about how this is making your course more student-centred. As we mentioned before, simply moving components out of class via technology does not automatically make your course more student-centred. This diagram does a good job of showing the relationship between from traditional teacher-created tasks to more student-centred learning using technology.
So how do you begin doing this? One approach is to mapping out your course in conjunction with your learning outcomes, indicating what you currently do in class/out of class, and why. For example:
Step 4 – Prototype: Create a solution
This stage involves making an actionable plan to apply the ideas. (The online part of this program will have you begin to do this). At this stage you are asking: How can you implement your ideas, and what can you apply to the course now?
As part of a connected class activity, students will work with another class in XYZ location to co-construct an image database.
Step 5 – Test: Implement and get feedback
The final stage is Test. This is what you will be doing in the online part of the course, and bringing back to the Agora to share. What was the student’s feedback of the experience? What can be assessed? How can it be improved?
Adding mobile learning to your courses achieves little if you are not clear about how it makes your course more student-centred and why. Once you are clear on that, other course design approaches such as Understanding by Design, or Backwards Design can be used.
Beginner: Rethink a course activity
Intermediate: Rethink your course visually
Advanced: Rethink your entire course
Tools and Resources
For course redesign planning:
- Course Redesign Templates (in English) and (en Español)– these links will allow you to save a copy onto your Google Doc drive
- Diapositivos por este estudio
- D-school approach introduction: http://dschool.stanford.edu/dgift//li>
- D-school worksheet: http://dschool.stanford.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Participant-Worksheet.pdf
- Alternative approach to course design – Understanding by Design: https://iteachu.uaf.edu/online-training/develop-courses/planning-a-course/understanding-by-design/