Coursetune is used to see and better understand the "What", "When", "Why", and "How" of learning:
- What will students learn? C-Layer of the circle graph
- When will students learn it? Bundle layer of the circle graph
- Why will students learn it? Mappings in the right-side panel
- How will students learn it? Activities rings (assessments and assignments)
Reading this, you might be asking, "Where are the learning objectives?" Learning objectives are the most granular learning goals for your course (level-4 object). As your courses take shape, you'll notice that learning objectives are building blocks of each of these categories and critical to bringing everything together.
Here is a simple step-by-step that will help with building the course so that it effectively answers What, When, Why, and How.
These steps can go in any order depending on your preference and how you are comfortable with thinking through your course. It can also happen over time. There may be use cases where it makes sense to stop at "When" or "Why" and revisit (or not) at a future date or another year.
That said, when you are building a new course or program (level-3 folder) from scratch, consider building in backwards-design order. Start with your Why, then move on to What, followed by When, and then finally How.
"You can put all these pieces together. Being able to create that narrative, which takes you from program objectives, to course objectives, to the individual learning objectives, and all the way back through assessment to measure learning. If you're not doing that, you're going to be missing something along the way. And if the story doesn't make sense for me, then how could it possibly make sense for the students in the class?"
-Andrew Feldstein, Assistant Provost for Teaching Innovation and Learning Technologies, Fort Hays State University
Steps to building What, When, Why, and How in Coursetune
1. Establish your naming convention
Using the Edit Course panel for the course (level-4 object) or settings panel for the program (level-3 folder), select the layer names that match the terms you currently use at your institution. These layer names appear below the layer icons in the left-hand panel (at the bottom).
Example 1 CLO and Module Example 2: Cluster and Session
CLO (for the C-layer) and Module (for the Bundle layer) are popular terms, but you should use the terms that best fit your organization. Consider the purpose of the course and the description for "What" the students are learning (C-layer, mountain summit icon). Think about the organizational unit for the delivery to target "When" the students are learning. (Bundle layer, book sequence icon). There will be more details about these layers in the steps below.
2. Start with your "Why"
Beginning with "Why will students learn it?" is an instructional design best practice. It helps ensure that the curriculum is intentionally built to meet these goals.
In Coursetune, the Mappings panel (and the Outcome Sets and mappings listed there) is one place to find "Why" the learning is happening.
The Mapping panel can be used to identify and align anything you need at any of the four levels. In this case, for example, the four levels (from 1 to 4) are: Institution (Level 1), Division (Level 2), Program (Level 3), and Course (Level 4). As you hover over the level icons on the left-panel, the level number is shown to you. In the mappings panel (right side), you can also hover over an outcome set to reveal the level number it pairs with.
First identify the "Why" outcomes for the program and for division. *Important to note: set aside course level outcomes for step 3. The program outcome sets and division outcome sets can be industry standards, accreditation requirements, qualities and skills unique to the program or division folders, or anything you would like to track and report on across the collection of courses.
a. Add Program Outcomes or goals that are specific to the pathway within the specific program
b. Add Division Outcomes or goals that are specific to the division (e.g., school, college, or department)
Consider writing outcomes in a way that they will make sense to your learners. The same level of clarity will also benefit faculty and adjuncts, staff, administration, boards, and committees. Using industry terms here will help students be able to understand and articulate to others what they learned and why; it will also help ensure that everyone is talking about these outcomes in the same language. This is key to student retention, referrals, and having them come back to your organization to learn more in the future.
3. Define "What"
What will students learn? The C-Layer on the circle graph will tell you what goals the students will achieve in the course. Note that when you are on one layer, you can view the other layer as an overlay (this option in towards the bottom of the mappings list in the mappings panel).
For example, if you are viewing the Competency Layer in a course (the C-layer), you can choose to view the Units (the Bundle layer) as an overlay on the course.
"C-Layer" is the default name of this layer, so remember to do step 1 first and name the course goals (Competencies, CLOs, Clusters, etc.) so that it will make sense to a broader team of stakeholders, contributors and future viewers of these plans.
a. Complete the C-Layer of the course graph. What are the 5-8 main things students should be able to demonstrate after taking the course?
b. Mapping to the C-Layer at this point in the design can help you utilize program-level reports. You can also move to the Program Level to view the C-Layer across all the courses in the program to see if you have a proper progression of learning or any unwanted repetition or gaps.
c. At this point, consider writing learning objectives for each C-Layer element to specify (with more granularity) how students are learning the main goals of the course.
4. Identify "When"
When will students learn it? The Bundle Layer on the circle graph will tell you. Note that when you are on one layer, you can view the other layer as an overlay (this option in towards the bottom of the mappings list in the mappings panel).
For example, if you are viewing the Unit Layer in a course (the Bundle layer), you can choose to view the Competencies (the C-layer) as an overlay on the course.
"Bundles" is the default name of this layer, so remember to do step 1 first and name the bundles of learning through time, or in sequential order, (units, weeks, modules, etc.)so that it will make sense to a broader team of stakeholders, contributors, and future viewers of these plans.
a. Complete the bundle layer of the circle graph.
b. If you already have learning objectives created on the other course layer, they will show up as orphans on this layer of the course. Sort the learning objectives into the bundles and Coursetune will automatically link the What to When through the LOs. This is tremendously valuable insight, both as you are designing and then later when you are comparing your assessment data to the curriculum plans.
c. Creating and sorting the LOs will automatically create a way to view the mapping of the other layer on top of this one in the right-hand panel. This overlay allows you to view the interleaving of concepts in your course and answer the question, "when do the students first encounter each course goal and how often do they encounter it throughout the course.
5. Plan out "How"
How will students learn it? The Activities rings (assessments and learning activities) on the course graph and details about these rings in the right-hand panel will show you.
Choose the Activities icon (head with a gear) to view Activities in the right-hand panel.
Learning objectives must exist before creating activities and assessments because that's what creates the alignment to not only "What" and "When" but also "Why". If the course doesn't have learning objectives, simply create a learning objective called "Placeholder" (Coursetune omits LOs called "placeholder" from reports). Alternatively, consider writing a learning objective for each bundle that represents the goals of the activities planned.
a. Create activities for the course. If creating learning and assessment activities seems overwhelming or not applicable to your goals, consider doing the following:
• Start with assessments or items that are required by the institution.
• Consider engaging with faculty regarding the "nice to haves" and create only what is necessary to include until it is time for review or redesign.