During May 2013, nine Vancouver Island University teaching faculty took part in our first offering of a Course (Re)Design Institute. VIU had never offered such an institute and we went on the hunt for best practices and a model to offer it in a way to include more learning prior to F2F sessions and extend the learning into a community format.

The Institute was fashioned off of the successful McGill University model applying learner-centered design principles and strategies to course design. The McGill model is also successful because it is spread out over a number of days, uses a blended/online component and has a follow up session in the Fall to evaluate implementation. Kathleen Bortolin, Curriculum Teaching and Learning Specialist and Liesel Knaack, Director – CIEL co-facilitated this institute.

The purpose of this institute was to provide a collegial and supportive environment for instructors to redesign an existing course employing successful design methods based on constructive alignment, backward design, universal design for instruction and cognitive learning strategies.

We used Desire2Learn to create a course with a number of activities participants engaged in prior to 2 full days of learning sessions. During this online compontent, faculty members watched a TED talk on Design, discussed its relevance to their course, collaborated on Google docs to summarize three different articles and began to look at concept maps as a way to organize their course.

Through large and small group activities in the F2F sessions, the participants focused on concept mapping, learning outcomes and objectives, teaching and learning strategies and assessment and evaluation methods. Participants were exposed to a blended and flipped learning model. We also spent some time on looking at graphic syllabi and their purpose in organizing and visually depicting course outline components.

We then asked faculty to go off and do a skeleton version of their course using a grid. During the next two weeks online, faculty members worked through writing learning objectives and considering content design. Then we met again F2F for a half day and shared what all had learned.

Feedback from participants indicated that this was a grand success. The one area for improvement was to incorporate more time for the participants to share, talk and learn from each other.  We will definitely be offering this institute again next May!