Course Development Issues
University of Colorado at Boulder
To what extent have you been able to use previously developed materials in your re-design instead of creating new materials?
We had already developed the on-line hypertext when we wrote our proposal. We did not believe that standard software met our particular needs for stimulating interactive student learning teams, so we have been developing our own custom software. It's in good shape now, and we are only putting a modest effort into fine-tuning the software as we continue to adjust the course format.
What kinds of activities took up the most time in your course development effort?
Dealing with software problems.
Have students been directly involved in the re-design process?
Yes. I told the students at the beginning of this course that I wanted them to be full partners in the redesign process. We got a lot of feedback from students throughout the course. Most of the student feedback came to me via the undergraduate TAs, but some of the more intrepid students communicated directly with me on a regular basis. My weekly meetings with UGTAs have been a very effective mechanism for providing formative feedback from the students.
They have been especially helpful or insightful in the details: design of homework problems, format of discussion sessions, activities of learning teams. We will continue to seek ways of encouraging more student involvement.
What kinds of support for your project have you been receiving from your department or the institution more broadly?
We have the attention and enthusiastic support of the University administration at every level, from the Chancellor down to our department chairman. The Chancellor asked me to give the commencement address in December, where I had the opportunity to say a few words about our project.
In regard to the kinds of support for your project that we have been receiving from your department or the institution more broadly, we note a modest amount of additional financial support ($42,000) from the University, quite a bit of free time and expert advice from Information Technology Services, and a lot of encouragement from every level of the University Administration.
We also applied to the NSF Division of Undergraduate Education for a grant to support this project, using the Pew Grant to meet the requirement for matching funds. NSF awarded us an additional $197,000 to support this project, which enabled us to buy better hardware. Sun Microsystems also provided a very generous matching grant that enabled us to outfit our interactive classroom space with a spectacular new computing system, including two very powerful servers and 30 interactive stations. Moreover, we now have sufficient funds to support continued development of the course by other instructors in our department. These funds will be a powerful incentive for my colleagues to offer the re-designed course and to work with me to continue to develop it.
Program in Course Redesign Quick Links: