Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Thing 4 - Course Map

After completing Thing 4
  • You will know what the 'course map view' is all about
  • You will have tried applying it to one of your own courses
  • You'll know whether it can be useful for you

What is Course Map?

Our friends at OULDI have been developing ways of making learning designs more visually accessible.  The course map view is one of the simplest 'views' and is intended to give an at a glance overview in terms of the types of learning activities the learner is undertaking, how they will communicate and collaborate with tutor and peers, the guidance and support provided and the nature of any assessment.

The four categories have been carefully chosen to capture all the main elements of a course - setting them out in boxes is just a sort of visual mnemonic.  They may seem familiar to you - they're a lot like the headings found in course handbooks, and many instructional training courses use similar categories.

The bottom two boxes are there to help other people identify the course and place it in context.

How is it used?

If you're developing an idea for a new module, or reviewing an existing one, you could use a course map to create handy overview.  Course maps can be used as a sort of checklist: are all the elements in place?  They're also easy to share.  Being consistent, they can aid comparison - creating course maps for several modules in a larger course can act as an aid to reflection on the whole set.

Check out an example: the University of Reading's third-year Atmospheric Science field course

(c) ReadingLDI

Step by step instructions

  1. Grab a blank sheet of paper and make a course map overview of your own course.  It might help to have a particular audience in mind.  If you like, you can get an editable blank version from Slideshare (account needed) or via CamTools.
  2. You're done!  Just blog what you think.

Blog Thing 4
  1. What do you think of the idea of Course Map?  
  2. How does it compare with any other representations you have of your course?
  3. Filling out your own course map, did you find it illuminating or frustrating?  Are there any ways you would change it to better reflect what you do? 
  4. In what ways do you see this being useful to you as a course designer?

If you're interested..
  • Check out the thinking behind the course map on Prof. GrĂ¡inne Conole's blog e4innovation
  • Add your own course map to your blog post (hint: scan it in, save your PowerPoint file as a picture, or just take a screenshot in Windows or Mac and after that upload the image)
  • Look up 'course map' on Cloudworks (hint: use the search box, or just click here) and share your response directly with the OULDI team there

1 comment:

  1. Essentially some handbook-type headings arranged handily on one page, I was wrongfooted again by this tool, which split opinion amongst our respondents.

    13things Blog Trial says of this (and the Pedagogy Profile Widget which follows) “Of the tools so far I think these are the ones I am most likely to revisit as I review courses this year”. They “are very simple to play with” and “act as prompts that are useful in ensuring a thorough overview of a course”, producing gains “without massive input of time to master the tools”. Reflections on Science Education and Communication also considers it useful. As “a checklist, a way of getting you to think about all of the aspects of learning for example communication, collaboration, group work, reflection and assessment types, content and method of delivery ... it is very useful”, encouraging one to re-examine any assumption that “the old method of lectures, examples classes, supervisions with essays and the three-hour exam is the only way to do things.” As a “very visual method [of representation] which does allow ready comparison” the course map is valuable when “working with a group of people so you can all see almost at a glance, what is where, when and how ... [although] some people may find the visual approach alienating.”

    This was immediately borne out by mrj10: “For me a map is a representation of a domain that helps you to trace a route.  The Course Map seems more like a list of headings that might be relevant to curriculum design”. Socratic Investigations didn’t like the idea of a thematic breakdown at all: “it tacitly invites students to approach their course of studies as a digitally compartimentalized entity, rather than as a place for serious, "organic" thinking ... I see no reason to abandon the prose-style of a more traditional Course Outline.”

    In terms of its suitability for Cambridge course designers, Reflections on Science Education and Communication says “Course Map is assuming that you’re starting from scratch ... I make small changes each year within a large number of constraints ... this would be frustrating because there are so many points in there I would not be able to do anything about”.

    The headings used are not even the handbook-style headings mrj10 usually uses: topics, staff, assessment, teaching and learning approach. “The map ... seems to be focused much more on the ‘how’ of the course, rather than the ‘what’ (which is as much, if not more, of a challenge in course design for me).” The headings “do not immediately strike me as necessarily the right headings or the only ones that might be considered ... many of the categories in the course map do not seem particularly relevant e.g. how will students be supported physically and online, how will students communicate and collaborate?” Reflections on Science Education and Communication says “there are things I would include that are missing (eg duration and timescales)”.

    For me the take-away points from Course Map is that opinion can be split about overview/checklist tools. As long as the tool is simple and accessible users can assess its potential benefits and decide quickly whether to take it or leave it; no time need be wasted.