Center for Teaching Excellence Deploys Innovative Online Course Design Program

An idea that came from doing taxes is now helping college instructors create more successful courses – and become the teachers they dream of being.

Michael Palmer, director of the Center for Teaching Excellence at the University of Virginia, who developed “c3Design “along with other faculty at the center, wrote in an email:” It has been a labor of love for over five years “to create an online program to create” principles-based courses ” learning-oriented and evidence-based “.

The eight-part program aims to “help instructors design courses that they enjoy teaching and that students enjoy taking.” Regardless of experience, teachers and graduate instructors can use this3Design alone or with a cohort of peers.

With the coronavirus quarantine canceling the week-long Course Design Institute, one of the centre’s iconic face-to-face events, this online program can help. It operates independently of the Course Design Institute, but those who have participated in the institute can also benefit from the range of tools and resources available in it.3Design, Palmer said.

“There is nothing like this3Design there, ”Palmer said. “We have won a series of innovation and research awards to support it (four). There are institutions that post course design content online, but none have devised ways to provide real-time feedback to instructors on the quality of their designs.

Palmer provides more information in the Q&A below. For more details, visit the website.

Q. What is3Design support for? Why is it called that?

A. The long-term vision for c3Design is about creating a tool that can help instructors design Classes (i.e. lesson plans), Classes and study programs. Hence the three Cs. Since we believe that systematic, evidence-based design is the best way to improve teaching and learning, we have elevated the Cs to the third power.

In other words, the design [the design of the course] is exponentially important compared to other activities that instructors might undertake to improve teaching and learning.

Q. Where did the idea come from?

A. TurboTax. Seriously. After years of helping face-to-face course design institutes at AVU, I was preparing my taxes and was intrigued by the program’s ability to ask simple questions and complete complex tax forms for the program. user based on their responses. I asked myself, “What if a program could ask instructors simple course design questions and complete a program for them behind the scenes?” »Five years later, we are launching c3Design.

We promise you it’s a lot more fun than doing your taxes.

Q. Does it replace the one-week Course Design Institute that the Center for Teaching Excellence has offered for 12 years?

A. No. Our course design institute and c3Design are two highly interactive learning environments designed to guide instructors through the iterative, dynamic, and scientific process of designing learning-focused courses. These experiences help them reinvent their next course, whether it be face-to-face, hybrid or online.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each model. With the CDI, learning is done together in a physical space over a fairly intense week. With c3Design, learning is done at a distance, spread over several weeks and is less dependent on individual schedules. The current pandemic makes c3Design a perfect alternative. We will offer both in the future.

So, in short, the decision about fall courses does not affect its usefulness. Also, don’t forget that summer courses are online.

Q. Does this3Designing online skill education courses?

A. While our course design process does not change for online courses – as in the current situation with the forties – we have added some specific considerations that are unique to online teaching and learning.

Here is an example that we added to the section on student motivation: “Motivation is especially important to consider in an online environment. Students often struggle to find a sense of community and don’t always get or seek the help they need to be successful when working remotely. Distractions, time management issues, life situations, and other challenges can make it easier to disengage and fall behind in activities when they can just shut their computer screen. Other parts of c3The design gives instructors specific ideas on how to increase student motivation.

Q. How does a UVA instructor learn to use c3Design?

A. Instructors can go to website and just start c3Design when they’re ready and finish at their own pace, but we’ve also created experiences that are structured and made easy. For these experiences, the instructors travel to the site over a period of two weeks. At specific times, they have “homework” to do, which they share with other instructors and a facilitator asynchronously or in 90-minute synchronous Zoom sessions.

Throughout the summer, the Center of Excellence in Teaching offers both synchronous and asynchronous c3Design sessions. Registration is currently open for our last session in June. [Note: Sessions 1 through 3 are full; session 4 is June 22-July 3.]

If none of the dates work, let us know via this form so that we can better welcome you. We will announce registrations for the July sessions on Thursday and the August sessions in early July.

Q. Does this3Design available for any college professor?

A. Because we are still developing and piloting parts, we have limited access. But we expect huge demand once we make it more widely available. Because3The design was developed with funding from 4-VA [a partnership to promote higher education collaborations in Virginia], we shared it with center directors at other public higher education institutions in Virginia. We expect some to start using it this summer.

Q. What is the research behind c3Design?

A. c3The design is based on the retro-integrated design literature and Fink’s significant learning taxonomy; theoretical frameworks of motivation theory, learning theory and the science of learning; and the principles of transparency, universal design for learning and equitable learning practices.

We also used the Center for Teaching Excellence’s own research efforts to understand the impact of its Face-to-Face Course Design Institute on instructor beliefs and practices.


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Billie M. Secrist

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