Imagine you are planning a camping trip. You’ve decided you want to camp for four days in Traverse City, Michigan to see the sand dunes. You’ve made an extensive list of supplies for the trip based on camping internet sites/camping books/and advice of your friends on what is needed for the trip and encompasses everything from tents, bedding, food, and clothing. Included in the planning was a map to Traverse City and an itemized list of activities, reservations for camping and places for sightseeing. The goal of the vacation is to enjoy a day driving dune buggies on the sand dunes. You are excited for a fun 4th of July weekend in Traverse City, Michigan. After all the careful planning you ended up in a hotel in St. Paul, Minnesota and eating at a steak restaurant. What happened? The answer is a question of alignment.
If we take apart the planned vacation in terms familiar to those in education you end up with four stages in the vacation planning that weren’t aligned:
The goal of driving dune buggies on the sand dunes in Traverse City, Michigan was the objective of the trip.
Successfully making it to Traverse City, Michigan and driving dune buggies on the beach during the camping trip is the final assessment.
The research of sites/books about camping and the list of supplies needed for the trip represent the instructional materials.
Creating the map and the itemized list of sightseeing locations, reservations and activities are the learning activities needed to make the trip.
By ending up in St. Paul, Minnesota as the final destination it is apparent that the four stages of the trip were not in alignment; the objective, the instructional materials, learning activities, and assessment. Upon further investigation you realize the map you used was not to Traverse City but to St. Paul. In addition, the resources used to create the list of supplies were based on websites and books about St. Paul.
While the story above uses an analogy to make a point, issues with alignment of course objectives, assessments, instructional materials, and learner activities due occur. Misalignment of these four key course components is detrimental to the success of the learner reaching the stated objectives of the course.
The course design process begins with crafting the course objectives followed by outlining and creating the course assessment. When the objectives and the assessment are in alignment, the instructor has a clear picture of what they want the student to achieve after the course is over.
Next, the instructor must locate the instructional materials that the students will consume in order to learn the course content which may include textbooks, PowerPoints, PDFs, videos, podcasts, instructor voiceover lectures, checklists, templates, and web content. The learner activities are then created, which utilize the instructional materials so that the progression through the activities will lead the student to create new knowledge, skills, meaning, and application of the new content. Lastly, as the learner activities are created, the instructor must state which objectives are linked to each learner activity and state how the activities and instructional materials will help the learner achieve the stated course outcomes and success on the assessment.
Alignment of these four parts of the course design are essential to the student’s success in learning the course content. For further assistance with course design, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org