Thing4: Course Maps

1. What do you think of the idea of Course Map?  

I think there are actually two ideas in here. One is effectively a checklist, a way of getting you to think about all of the aspects of learning for example communication, collaboration, group work, reflection and assessment types, content and method of delivery. As such it is very useful. In Cambridge I have found that there is often an assumption that the old method of lectures, examples classes, supervisions with essays and the three-hour exam is the only way to do things. The rest of the world has moved on and I’m not convinced that these old methods really are appropriate to the exclusion of other approaches.

The second idea in here is the way in which the course map is represented. This is a very visual method which does allow ready comparison. It is often easier to use this approach when you are working with a group of people so you can all see almost at a glance, what is where, when and how. However there is the drawback that, as with any particular learning style, some people may find the visual approach alienating.

2. How does it compare with any other representations you have of your course?

I find that I generally work very sequentially since I want to build upon ideas and concepts using a variety of approaches. So I will work in chronological order but checking that the duration of each part of the course is sensible as well as thinking about the nature of the activity to develop a particular concept. I think what this Course Map is missing perhaps is this sense of duration of each element in the course design.

3. Filling out your own course map, did you find it illuminating or frustrating?  Are there any ways you would change it to better reflect what you do? 

I ran out of time (sorry!) to do another course map but it’s something I might revisit in the summer when planning for next year. I think this Course Map is assuming that you’re starting from scratch and for one course I’m thinking of I make small changes each year within a large number of constraints which may be timetabling and/or physical (Cambridge has a lot of lecture theatres but not that many large seminar classroom spaces with flexible furniture).  So I guess in that case this would be frustrating because there are so many points in there I would not be able to do anything about. On the other hand, when starting from scratch it might prove more useful, particularly if you didn’t have too many constraints.

4. In what ways do you see this being useful to you as a course designer?

I think it’s useful as a checklist, though there are things I would include that are missing (eg duration and timescales)


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About JennyAKoenig

I specialise in science education and communication. Projects have included maths education for bioscientists, study skills for scientists with specific learning difficulties and pharmacology: bringing the science behind how medicines work (or don't!) to a wider audience. I have a PhD in Pharmacology from the University of Cambridge and a BSc (Hons 1) from the University of Sydney. I have taught maths and pharmacology to science, medical and veterinary students at University and biology, chemistry, physics and maths at a large comprehensive secondary school.
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One Response to Thing4: Course Maps

  1. Amyas says:

    Wow lots of interesting points in here, thanks. The lack of flexible teaching space, the default delivery format – I wonder if many teaching staff feel the same way? The usefulness but incompleteness of checklists is a very useful criticism too. Could it work with thing 5 pedagogy profile, or it that too many tools already?

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