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 When a course is aligned, all assessments and learning activities, such as readings, lectures, homework, and other learning activities directly support the achievement of the learning outcomes. The following three steps will guide you through the process of aligning your course and trim unecessary content and/or activities.

Identify course learning outcomes

To begin the course alignment process, validate your course learning outcomes (sometimes also referred to as learning objectives). Be sure that they are relevant and appropriate for the course moving forward. If you need to make changes or refine them, it’s important to do this at the beginning as the outcomes are central to the process. As a reminder, learning outcomes should be student-focused, measurable and attainable. 

Most importantly, they should be relevant to the overall program. In other words, all course learning outcomes need to be “must know.”  If any of the learning outcomes fall under “nice to know” then it’s the perfect opportunity to trim them from the course.

As part of this step, you may also wish to create a list or mind map of terms, concepts, and skills that students will have to know in order to achieve the learning outcomes. This will assist in organizing your lectures and selecting the relevant course resources such as readings, videos, etc. If it helps, you may want to designate each concept or term into different categories as follows: must know, should know and nice to know. Be sure to prioritize the must know and should know.

If you are not sure about cutting certain topics, ask yourself the following question:

  • What will be the impact if the student does not know this?

Review course assessments

Once your learning outcomes are finalized, the next step is to determine if your assessments are aligned. The main purpose of assessments is to measure learning – that is to give students the opportunity to demonstrate if they have achieved the learning outcomes. Therefore, any assignments, quiz questions or other assessments will need to directly align with the learning outcomes.

If your course is properly aligned, each learning outcome will be associated with at least one learning outcome, and there will be at least one (preferably more) assessment for each course learning outcome.

Assess course learning activities

Readings & Lectures

Assess your course content to ensure that all reading assignments are aligned with and essential for the attainment of learning outcomes.  In some cases, this might mean trimming sections from a reading. You may not have prioritized all topics in a textbook chapter, so assigning page ranges rather than entire chapters might help focus students on must-know topics.

Clearly identify optional exceptional/enrichment material.  Again, if you are not sure about cutting certain lecture topics or pages, ask yourself the following question: What will be the impact if the student does not know this?

As noted above, if you are having trouble adjusting your course to a 12-week timeframe, consider examining your lectures closely for overlaps in content. Avoid repeating content from readings and instead focus on challenging concepts. You may want to consider clicker questions at the beginning of class to identify the areas that need revision and clarification.

Course component alternatives

Pre-requisite knowledge and skills review

  • Administer an informal knowledge check to determine which specific skills and knowledge students need to review (Moodle Quiz, Zoom Poll, in-class polls, etc.) before.
  • Consider providing short topic-based lectures online. 

Class discussions

  • Consider moving certain discussions to an online Discussion forum in Moodle.  In large classes, this is particularly helpful to increase the amount of interaction students can have with other students and gives them an opportunity to view the course concepts from differing perspectives or explained in different ways.

Student presentations 

  • Provide options for how students demonstrate knowledge. If speaking or communication skills are not part of the course learning objectives allow students to present learning in other formats.  These might include: different kinds of text-based assignments, videos, infographics, and other media.
  • Have students create videos that are posted in Moodle. Students review and provide feedback on a limited number of peer videos (rather than all).

Peer feedback activities

  • Consider moving these to asynchronous. Some tools such as Moodle Workshop and Microsoft Teams can facilitate this online.  
  • Develop guiding questions based on your grading criteria so that students can give and receive focussed feedback.
  • Model how you expect students to review peer work and provide constructive feedback.

Review sessions

  • Rather than holding exam review classes, consider preparing online videos by topic that students can watch and rewatch as they are studying. 

  • Consider holding optional review sessions during Office Hours or during tutorials.

Reconsider delivery method of guest speakers 

  • Rather than inviting guest speakers during class time, consider recording their presentation for viewing asynchronously.

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