4. Course Materials

4. Course Materials

Be transparent about the purpose and intention behind your course materials. What resources, content, and activities will enable students to achieve the learning goals? Since instructors typically love their subject, they tend to be concerned about coverage, so much so that they often overdo it on course materials. Since covering isn’t the same as learning, it is important to step back and ask yourself, “Is this really necessary?” It may be that you can—gasp—eliminate some material, which will allow you to structure what remains in ways that will “stick” in terms of learning.

Here are some pointers in developing your content and materials. Also, see the presentation delivery section of this website for more information about tools.

1. Scaffold – Develop content and structure that builds logically, with introductory material that gradually creates a foundation of knowledge and skill, followed by more complex materials, examples, and applications.

2. Chunk – Break content into carefully constructed modules or lessons that learners can easily digest.

3. Align – Make sure content contributes to your main learning objectives in in significant, meaningful ways.

4. Reduce – Studies show that learners are easily confused by extraneous content. Narrow your focus to “need to know” content and take out any “nice to know” materials. Learning transfer is expedited when materials relate directly to your objectives.

5. Vary – Give learners options for absorbing content in multiple ways, such as textbooks, pdfs with notes (reading), audio lectures (listening), illustrations (visualizing), and video resources (animation).

6. Activate – Include meaningful learning activities for hands-on learners. These experiences act as the “glue” for learners to apply and engage with materials.

Finally, access to great materials should be easy, for you and your students. Use the UIdaho e-reserve process to locate and link to content. Many publishers are creating dynamic web-based interactive textbooks covering a wide variety of subjects, complete with enhanced quizzes and tutorials.

Also, there are many content sharing sites that offer high-quality materials for free (see Public Learning Modules). Visit the course technology section for more information.