Backward Planning

Reverse-Engineering a Course Isn't My Natural Habit

Why Is This So Hard?

Just yesterday or the day before, I was writing about the importance of backward planning in course design. And then today, I started jotting down how I'm going to construct modules for my online course. And, of course, I started from the beginning — again, piecing together the first weeks like jigsaw pieces.

On the plus side, this isn't all bad. After all, I do have a comprehensive syllabus for my English 102 course — it already encompasses all the major topics and lessons I'd like to teach. And I did assemble it using a "backwards" approach in that I first listed everything I wanted to cover, and then I moved the pieces from place to place until they all came together in set of weekly "modules."

Just one problem, from the online teaching perspective: I haven't created all the materials for these modules. Since I began teaching in 2008, I've only taught a single online course — all my other semesters have been face-to-face courses. And so I've become very, very reliant on in-class lectures and discussions. From a UDL perspective, this is not ideal — it forces students to pick up much of their information from my lectures. Granted, my "lectures" are typically 10-15 minutes long — I balance the class so that most of the time is reserved for conversations. I use several classroom management strategies such as think-pair-share and one-on-one conversations, but is that really enough?

Nope. No matter what you do, it's never quite enough. But at least I got this nice reminder that, as a teacher, I will always be learning.