Structuring course topics

Moodle offers drag-and-drop file and document upload. Many course creators take their course notes and presentations and dump them in their new learning system? You can be done in 10 minutes!

But all that achieves is a more cost-effective distribution of your old course. To create a BETTER course, begin by outline your course learning curriculum or learning objectives. Mind mapping software is an excellent tool to visualise complex subject matter.

Break the information into major topics and determine the order you will teach them. In academic institutions, content is based on a curriculum or one or more textbooks. But do not limit your course to ONLY the minimum requirements.

Depending on your students, you might need to change the order of topics. Most text books are logical, and begin with the most mundane aspects of a subject – its history and evolution, terminology or foundations. Learners commit more enthusiastically when they feel that the topic impacts them personally.

You might find it more effective to open your course with an exploration of exciting but catastrophic failures. A peer discussion of what the course means to them will draw students in.  It also gives you early insight into your learner’s needs and drivers.

Many courses and textbooks start with “learning objectives”. This is logical but unwise. You want to students to get energised about the topic, not focus on knowing the minimum to pass an exam. If learners realise that an underlying foundation topic will not be assessed, they skip over it, missing its benefit.

Break your content into a maximum of 7-9 topics. You will probably need to cut down and refine your initial list. Consider whether you should organise the topics in chronological, topical, conceptual or process-orientated structures.

  • Is there a theme or storyline that can tie the topics together.
  • Do you introduce a theory first and support it with examples, or present an application first, and follow it up with theoretical knowledge.
  • Will students find it more motivating to explore a topic when it is new to them, or once they have a solid grounding in theory?
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