Alternate Delivery: Build

This section contains a variety of resources that will guide you in building your Alternate Delivery course. An emphasis is placed on developing strategies for creating modules and assessing students, while also supporting students’ diverse learning needs.

Building Modules

Modules provide a means to organize and chunk learning experiences that are flexible and that support best practices in technology-enhanced learning. A module contains all elements needed for a student to learn and be assessed on a new body of knowledge or skill.

Principles for Building

The governing principles of design modular learning experiences for Alternate Delivery are no different than best practices that might be employed in a typical face-to-face class. However, in Alternate Delivery different approaches might be needed to achieve these principles or practices.

Alignment – The principles of Constructive Alignment or Backwards Design are common to all elements of teaching at SLC. Alignment is the purposeful construction of assessments, learning activities, and course materials that support student proficiency with the Course Learning Outcomes. Following these principles, assessments are developed first and are carefully crafted ensure that success on the assessments reflects achievement of the Course Learning Outcomes. Next learning materials and activities are collected and developed to assist students in building the skills, knowledge, and attitudes needed to be successful on the assessments. In the context of design modules, Alignment suggests that all learning materials be tightly focused on specific learning goals. Keep things simple and streamlined for both yourself and students by avoiding (or at least labelling as optional) extraneous materials.

Chunking – This is the practice of organizing learning materials, activities, and assessments into relatively small, discrete blocks. The purpose of this chunking, based on Cognitive Load Theory, is to not overwhelm students with too much new information and skill development all at once. Instead, larger skills are broken up into parts, which individually can be easily grasped and practiced by learners until fluent and before moving on to a new skill. To implement Chunking in your module design, identify the specific skills and knowledge students must develop and break these larger constructs into small steps that are punctuated with multiple opportunities for practice and feedback (see more below).

Multiple means of Action, Representation, and Engagement – The are the core principles of Universal Design for Learning or UDL (see more here). Employing UDL in your Alternate Delivery course can take many forms. You might provide students with several ways – such as a reading, video and graphic – to learn about a new concept. Additionally, you can provide different means through which students can participate in their learning; they might have the option of replying to questions verbally or through the chat in a synchronous session. Further, students can be given an opportunity to work with you to design how they will be assessed on a given topic.

Active – To learn most effectively, students need to be active. They must engage their mind, body, and/or emotions in learning activities. Passively reading or watching videos is not ideal. Of course, this doesn’t mean that readings and videos should be avoided; they simply need to be complemented with active practice, recall, or other strategies into which student must fully invest themselves. There are endless ways to make learning in your Alternate Delivery class Active.

Community – Creating a learning community allows students to support each other both cognitively and emotionally throughout the learning process. Community building is often inherent to face-to-face settings and is supported by class discussions and small group learning activities and assessments. Additionally, community building occurs outside of the class as students move together as a cohort between classes and occurs during informal class times like breaks and before and after class. Creating Community in your Alternate Delivery class takes special care and planning. Consider using breakout groups, which can be both beneficial to learn and can help students connect with each other. Additionally, dedicate time in your synchronous sessions to having informal, non-course-related conversations like you might normally have at break. Last consider using asynchronous activities like discussion board to provide students with more opportunities to build community.

Feedback – Feedback, particularly feedback on formative assessment or assessment for learning, is vital for optimal learning (see Black and Wiliam). Embedding opportunities in your Alternate Delivery class can be done by workshopping or providing feedback on drafts of assessments. Also, and perhaps more importantly, feedback can be provided on low or no stakes assessments or activities. Be sure to build in feedback to your learning activities and synchronous classes. Feedback can also come in the form of self-reflection or peer evaluation.

Common Elements

To support the principles detailed above, modules tend to have four common elements.

  1. The Module Overview typically sets the stage for the module and contains learning objectives, provides context, assists in building rapport and community, enables learner organization and self-regulation, and indicates how synchronous and asynchronous elements interact and flow together.

  2. Course Content can take many forms, though is most commonly provided as readings, videos, and or graphics. Content can also be provided through synchronous sessions through activities or lectures.

  3. Learning Activities provide learners with opportunities to practice skills and consolidate new knowledge. In asynchronous settings, these may be Discussion Forums, Journals, Wikis, quizzes, reflections, etc. In synchronous sessions, learning activities can be just about anything where students are actively using, practicing, or engaging with new knowledge or skill.

  4. Assessments that are given at the end of a module (a summative assessment or assessment of learning) provide learners with the opportunity to give evidence of their newly developed skills and knowledge.

Example Modules

To see several examples of modules that reflect the principles and elements described above, please contact SCTL@sl.on.ca to be given access to a sample Blackboard course where modules or this sort have been constructed. Once you’ve reviewed these, consider how these elements and principles are created in practice.

Assessing Students

As with any course modality, students should be evaluated to assist them in their learning and to gather evidence of their achievement of the Course Learning Outcomes. Designing assessments for Alternate Delivery is little different than for face-to-face classes, and faculty members are encouraged to adapted existing assessments for digital implementation. Please visit the Assessments & Rubrics section of this website for more information.

Build Checklist

The following list provides a summary of the recommended steps to complete the Build phase of creating an Alternate Delivery course.

  • Create Blackboard Menu and Module Structure

  • Assemble Assessments (instructions, rubrics, and submission technologies)

  • Curate and craft Content

  • Develop Learning Activities