Learning Arches (WIP)

What are learning arches?


Veggies es bonus vobis, proinde vos postulo essum magis kohlrabi welsh onion daikon amaranth tatsoi tomatillo melon azuki bean garlic.

Gumbo beet greens corn soko endive gumbo gourd. Parsley shallot courgette tatsoi pea sprouts fava bean collard greens dandelion okra wakame tomato. Dandelion cucumber earthnut pea peanut soko zucchini.

Turnip greens yarrow ricebean rutabaga endive cauliflower sea lettuce kohlrabi amaranth water spinach avocado daikon napa cabbage asparagus winter purslane kale. Celery potato scallion desert raisin horseradish spinach carrot 

Example Learning Arches

Why use learning arches?


Nori grape silver beet broccoli kombu beet greens fava bean potato quandong celery. Bunya nuts black-eyed pea prairie turnip leek lentil turnip greens parsnip. Sea lettuce lettuce water chestnut eggplant winter purslane fennel azuki bean earthnut pea sierra leone bologi leek soko chicory celtuce parsley jícama salsify.

Celery quandong swiss chard chicory earthnut pea potato. Salsify taro catsear garlic gram celery bitterleaf wattle seed collard greens nori. Grape wattle seed kombu beetroot horseradish carrot squash brussels sprout chard.


Benefits of course mapping: 

  • Improves communication about the curriculum
  • Enhances collaboration
  • Fosters discussion among teachers 
  • Increases interdisciplinary coherence
  • Ensures program consistency, creating a shared understanding amongst teachers 
  • Maximises learners’ opportunities to achieve learning outcomes 
  • Encourages reflective practice

How to start with learning arches? 


Before starting with your course mapping, we recommend you watching the video below, which captures in a very succinct and clear way how to follow constructive alignment.

Once you are ready to proceed, follow the steps below: 


  • Step 1: Personas

Consider completing user personas before starting the course mapping, this will allow you to identify your user groups and their needs.  To learn more about personal use the following resources: 
What are personas?
Personas Template

  • Step 2: Defining the Course Primary Statement

Define in a couple of sentences the primary aim of your course.  Think of this as your course mission statement. 

Learning Arches Resources


Find below a course map guide, an example and templates for a 13 weeks course and a 16 weeks course. 

Course Mapping

What are course maps?


Course maps involve taking an in-depth look at a course—who studies it, who teaches it, what it’s about, and how it’s delivered and assessed. It is a more visual, comprehensive way of presenting the course guide, and enables collaboration with multidisciplinary curriculum design teams.

In keeping with the idea of constructive alignment, the map draws together the course-level outcomes, assessments, activities and resources required to create “an environment that maximises the likelihood that students will engage in the activities designed to achieve the intended outcomes” (Biggs, 2003). 

What is Constructive Alignment?

It is an outcomes-based approach to teaching in which the learning outcomes that students are intended to achieve are defined before teaching takes place. Teaching and assessment methods are then designed to best achieve those outcomes and to assess the standard at which they have been achieved (Biggs, 2014). 

In designing a course, you must consider three important questions, which will underpin the completion of your course map:

  • Learning Outcomes:

    What do I want my students to be able to do and to know as a result of undertaking this course?

  • Teaching and Learning Methods and Activities:

    How will my teaching instructions and delivery allow students achieved these learning outcomes?

  • Assessment:

    How will I know if my students have achieved the learning outcomes?

The diagram belorepresents the relationship between PLOs and CLOs and the sequence in which constructive alignment takes place.

Why using Course Maps


When developing, refreshing or overhauling a course, this process enables a multidisciplinary team—including teaching staff, academic developers, learning designers, and students—to see the course outline at a glance. From this they can develop a pedagogical approach and supporting course structure (or understand the one already in place), and then examine the details of the activities, resource types, delivery mode, etc., that are required to make this design work. An effective and engaging course requires the careful alignment of outcomes, assessments, student activities, learning resources, and lecturer support and involvement. Course mapping highlights each of these areas, so that they can considered separately and together.    


Benefits of course mapping: 

  • Improves communication about the curriculum
  • Enhances collaboration
  • Fosters discussion among teachers 
  • Increases interdisciplinary coherence
  • Ensures program consistency, creating a shared understanding amongst teachers 
  • Maximises learners’ opportunities to achieve learning outcomes 
  • Encourages reflective practice
  • Provides a clear picture to students on what they are achieving throughout their studies 
  • Generates a consistent and quality learning and teaching experience 
  • Identifies gaps, strengths and opportunities for improvement 

How to start with course mapping? 


Before starting with your course mapping, we recommend you watching the video here, which captures in a very succinct and clear way how to follow constructive alignment.

Once you are ready to proceed, follow the steps below: 

  • Step 1: Personas

Consider completing user personas before starting the course mapping, this will allow you to identify your user groups and their needs.  To learn more about personal use the following resources:

What are personas?
(Template included)

  • Step 2: Defining the Course Primary Statement

Define in a couple of sentences the primary aim of your course.  Think of this as your course mission statement. 

  • Step 3: Writing Learning Outcomes

Proceed to establish how the aim of the course (course mission statement) is to be achieved. This involves defining the course learning outcomes that learners are expected to achieve upon completion of the course. Learning outcomes are simple statements that describe what the learners will be able to demonstrate at the culmination of the course.
When writing course learning outcomes, we recommend you follow Bloom’s and/or SOLO’s taxonomies. For more information on using the SOLO Taxonomy, download this guide.

  • Step 4: Designing Learning Activities

Consider completing user personas before starting the course mapping, this will allow you to identify your user groups and their needs.  To learn more about personal use the following resources: 
What are personas?
Personas Template

  • Step 5: Reflecting on the Course Mapping

Commence to choose and design your teaching and learning activitiesremember that these must be aligned to the course learning outcomes.  Ask yourself two important questions: What learning activities will guide, help and support students achieve the CLOs? and What resources and support do students require to learn what is expected?  

  • Step 6: Designing Assessment Tasks

Once you’ve filled in elements of the course, check the Course Map for a logical progression in the rows horizontally, but ensure that within a given week or module the different elements align to enable the weekly outcomes. 

Course Mapping resources


Find below a course map guide, an example and templates for a 13 weeks course and a 16 weeks course. 

Backward Design

Backward Design is another curriculum design model that has a lot of similarities with constructive alignment and the process of course mapping.  However, the main difference between the two approaches is when assessments design come in the process.  

What is Backward Design?


Backward Design was developed by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe in their book Understanding by Design.  They defined their model as a method of designing educational instructions by focusing on the intended desired outcomes.  What this means is, that as a teacher, you build your course around the knowledge and skills you want learners to acquire and gain through the learning experience. 

As Wiggins and McTighe (2005, p.14) explained, backward design requires a shift in thinking, the challenge is to focus first on the desired learnings from which appropriate teaching will logically follow. 

Backward design reflects a planning sequence for curriculum, and this sequence consists of three well defined stages as shown in the figure 1 & 2. 

Figure 1: Understanding by Design (UbD: Stages of Backward Design) 

Why using Backward Design?


The proposers of the model argue that the most important benefit of Backward Design is that is focuses primarily on student learning and understanding.

 


Benefits of Backward Design: 

  • It is student-centred
  • Importance is placed on the intended learning outcomes
  • Encourages intentionality during the design process
  • Encourages teacher to reflect on the purpose of doing something
  • It provides guidance for teaching instructions, making them more transparent and meaningful
  • It minimises the implementation of unnecessary activities
  • Ensures that every task students are required to complete, and every instruction the teacher plans has a purpose

How to start with Backward Design? 


You start by following, in the correct order the three stages as reflected in the image above. 

  • Stage 1 : Identify desired results

In stage one, you will consider the overall learning goals of the course. You are creating the learning outcomes by focusing on what learners will understand, know and able to do once your course has culminated.  Wiggins and McTighe (1996) recommend teachers to consider the three questions below in order to identify what priorities are, and what the most valuable content is. 

What should learners hear, read, view, explore or otherwise encounter? 
• What knowledge and skills should learners master? 
• What are the big ideas and important understandings learners should retain? 

These three questions can be reflected using the three nested circles as shown below. Each of nested circle clearly reflects their level of importance. 

  • Step 2: Defining the Course Primary Statement

In this stage you are simply designing and creating the performance tasks and assessments learners will be required to complete to demonstrate understanding.  You will be asking yourself:   

•  What would my learners have to do to demonstrate to me that they have achieved the learning outcomes? 
• 
How would I know if my learners have achieved the desired outcomes? 
•  What will I accept as evidence of learners’ understanding?

What is important about this stage is that it will help you to clarify the real meaning of the learning outcomes, and if your outcomes are clear and relevant, hence the more authentic your tasks and assessments will be. Ensure that tasks and assessments match the learning outcomes, and always consider a variety of assessment methods that are authentic, relevant and meaningful. 

  • Stage 3 – Plan Learning Experiences and Instructions 

In the final stage of Backward Design, you begin to think about “how” you will teach.  It is about designing and developing the instructional strategies and learning activitiethat will prepare learners for the journey, and that will eventually allow them to arrive to the desired outcomes. Wiggins and McTighe (1996) proposed you ask yourself the following questions: 

  •  What activities will equip learners with the needed knowledge and skills? 
  • What will I need to teach? 
  • How should I teach what is required? 
  • What material and resources are best suited to accomplish the learning outcomes? 
  • Is my design coherent and effective? 

 

At this final stage you will also need to keep in mind your delivery approach (face-to-face, blended, fully online), as your instructions and design will change based on it. 

Backward Design Resources