How To Plan Your Course Content
A course plan is an essential part of designing any course and helps communicate the core values and goals of the course you’ll be teaching. The lesson plan is a detailed outline of course objectives, schedule, readings, assignments, and information about how the course will be taught and measured. Use this step-by-step guide to create and iterate on your course plan, easily.
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Your guide to creating an effective lesson plan
The course plan helps educators and instructors plan and communicate the core values and goals of the course you’ll be teaching. It is a detailed outline of course objectives, schedule, readings, assignments and quizzes, how the course will be taught and measured. A detailed lesson outline will help you:
- Set course goals, develop student learning objectives, create and align assessment plans, and establish a schedule for your course.
- Guide student expectations by outlining goals, materials, timelines, and learning outcomes.
- Provide a reference for colleagues, administrators, and accreditation agencies.
With Xtensio, you can easily generate your lesson plans tailored to your course objective and learning outcomes. Loop in colleagues and department heads to create an effective, ongoing course outline. You can work hand-in-hand with colleagues on a live doc, leave feedback, and share a link so students are updated on the lesson plan and objectives throughout the course.
1. Create your course plan header
Introduce your lesson plan with the course title and a brief description of the course. Add the instructor’s name, course level and date, time and location. You can also update the folio color scheme and background to match your company branding.
QUICK TIP: Once you set up your header section, you can save a custom template to easily repurpose for other lesson plans.
2. Consult colleagues and outline your course table of contents
Successful courses require careful planning and continual revision. Take time to really think about your course objectives before beginning to put together your lesson plan.
Consult colleagues who have taught the same or similar courses to learn from their strategies, student expectations and outcomes. If you are team-teaching, you and your teaching partner(s) should begin meeting in advance to discuss course goals, teaching philosophies, course content, teaching methods, and course policies, as well as specific responsibilities for each instructor.
The table of contents should include:
- Course Goals
- Course Learning Outcomes
- Course Schedule
- Course Format (Style)
- Course Evaluation
3. Define course goals and learning outcomes
Course goals should be student-centered, not teaching-centered. One way to formulate these goals is to determine what students should be learning in terms of content, cognitive and personal development. Be specific and outline what you want your students know or care about by the end of the course.
- What do you want your students to remember from your course in 5-10 years?
- How does this course relate to other courses in the discipline? How would you define the course goals accordingly (e.g., for an introductory, fundamental, or advanced course in the discipline)?
Learning outcomes help break down the larger course and program goals into observable and measurable objectives. These outcomes should be learning-centered, not teaching-centered.
- How should taking your course change students?
- What skills should students gain in this course?
4. Define materials and equipment students will need for your course
What materials and types of equipment will be used by the educator and students to complete this course successfully.
For example, materials for the teacher may include:
- Trainers Manual
- Presentation Slides
- White Board/Pens
And materials the student may need could be:
- Note Pad
- Course Outline
- Leaner’s Manual
5. Plan your course schedule
Outline the specific Course Structure to include the # of sessions/modules/lectures, etc. What specific topics, readings and assignments are required for each session?
When preparing the schedule, consult the relevant academic calendars, and keep in mind major religious holidays and significant campus events (for example: Winter Break, Homecoming). And allow time for active learning to occur during class and for students to complete major assignments and prepare for exams.
At a minimum, your course schedule should contain, date and time of each session, topics and units (modules) of your course, required readings and assignments, major exams.
QUICK TIP: To create more sections in the course schedule, duplicate the canvas to repurpose the content.
6. Outline your course format
Detail how topics, themes, and learning outcomes will be covered. How will these be presented and how will learners engage with them? (e.g. videos, slide-based presentations, images, articles, etc.) Select and develop teaching methods and tools that are 1) appropriate for the size of the class and 2) consistent with the course goals.
Course presentation could include:
- Live Webinar
You should also detail the learning style you’ll use in your course.
7. Explain how you will assess your course
What assessment instruments will be used to understand whether students are meeting the course goals? Specify dates for each important test, quiz and course assignment.
Assessment may include quizzes, tests, exams, scenario questions, hand-on assignments, written papers, labs, etc.
Keep these things in mind when defining your course assessment:
- Do assignments reflect and help achieve course goals? For example, are the papers required for the course an appropriate genre and length? How much time will you give students to complete these papers?
- Do exams and quizzes reflect course goals? Do they measure the extent to which students are achieving the learning objectives you have set out for the course?
- Will the students have an opportunity to acquire and practice the skills that are required for exams and major assignments?
QUICK TIP: Use charts and graphs to visualize assessment styles and course assignments.
8. Evaluate your course afterwards and iterate for the next one
Course planning is a continual process. Taking the time to evaluate your course after its finished will help you plan and revise for the next one. Remember the importance of teaching core concepts and critical-thinking skills along with the content of your course.
Understand and detail indicators of immediate course benefits, including:
- Completion (How many participants completed the course)
- Competency (Did learners demonstrate competency during assessments)
- Feedback (Survey/Questionnaire immediately after completion)
Think about indicators of long-term effectiveness of your course as well:
- Return on Investment (benefit vs. cost comparison)
- Change in Behavior (e.g. Confidence, Communication, Skill, Productivity, etc.)
- Feedback (e.g. Survey to participants weeks/months after completion)
Share your course plan as a link, monitor, evaluate & iterate
Your lesson should be centered around the course goals and student objectives. If effective, the course plan will help you develop student learning objectives, guide student expectations and provide a reference for future courses, colleagues and administrators.
When you’ve finished creating your lesson plan with Xtensio’s editor, you can send the live link to your folio to share it as a responsive webpage (and add password protection), export a PDF and post it on your bulletin board and continuously optimize with new learnings. The course plan is adaptable just like other Xtensio tools, it can and should be repurposed, revisited, and revised regularly.