If you’re like most educators who have the pleasure of designing your own course before/while teaching it, you probably do something like this:
- Identify the topics/standards to be covered
- Sketch out a general course outline
- Step back and figure out how you want to teach each topic
- Spend hours creating lessons, activities, PowerPoints, etc. that make up your lessons
- Teach the lesson
- Reflect on the effectiveness of the lesson and (maybe – if there’s time) revise it for the next time you teach it
The problem with this is that by the time you figure out if the lesson was effective or not, you’ve already invested a whole bunch of time and effort into designing it. In fact you may have already designed the whole course – or at least large chunks of the course – before you find out if it really ‘works’ with your students.
Take a page from User-Centered Design and Agile Software methods. As you’re planning a course or designing lessons, create some ‘prototype’ content that you can share with actual students. If there’s 2 or 3 ways to teach a concept, show of all of them and see which students react to most positively. Then run with that design.
For an easy to digest explanation of UCD, watch Satisfying the Cat:
This means that you’ll need to plan ahead and have a set of students you can fly this stuff past. Won’t make it easy – but it’s certainly doable, even if you’re planning for the next time you teach the course. You could get feedback from your current students.
Think this would work for you?
Have you tried it?