ReDesign Workshop Practices What it Preaches

The spring Course (Re)Design Institute at Appalachian State was deliberately structured to model the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) practices that are at the core of the workshop.   Lead instructor Tracy W. Smith, a professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, created a hybrid learning experience with flexible timelines designed to maximize face-to-face time and support each participant.

The group had 24 participants, representing 19 different departments or units.   A variety of Appalachian State staff members contributed their expertise to the program.   Emory Maiden from Learning Technology Services and Lindsay Masland from the Department of Psychology facilitated parts of the Institute.   Also involved were Lillian Goudas from University College, other Learning Technology consultants, course (re) design alumni, Faculty and Academic Development consultants, and interested collaborators from many other units around campus.

“As faculty feel more connected to teach other, we are challenging each other to be more learning-centered,” Smith said. 

An early session of the workshop was a Paideia Seminar on threshold concepts, determining the five or six things a student should remember five years after taking a class.   “We talked about not overstuffing a curriculum,” Smith said, “but rather boiling it down and building around that.”

This is the third year Appalachian faculty have participated in a spring redesign workshop.   The timing allows faculty to work on their courses over the summer and implement changes in the fall semester.   And they were ready to do just that.

“A lot of the things I learned in this course validated what I already do in class—just that these concepts have names!” wrote one participant.   “This showed me that I was actually on the right path, but had a long way to go still.   The new concepts that I learned are going to help me go further.”

Another participant shared this feedback.   “The best aspects of the CRDI were the face-to-face interactions, learning about course redesign principles, new ideas and hearing what others have done and the problems that they’ve encountered in their redesign process.”

“The CRDI was extraordinary,” wrote another participant.   “Thank you to the team and others for sharing their gifts.”