Time Saving Techniques for Course Planning and Preparation

What are some ways to more effectively plan and prepare a course? What tools and techniques can help ensure a smoother course development process? How can you skillfully manage the extra complexities of designing and implementing a new or revised hybrid or online course? What are the keys to successful maintenance and periodic updates to an existing course?  

Whether you teach face-to-face, hybrid, or entirely online, this webinar will demonstrate some practical tools and proven approaches to course planning and preparation that can make the process smoother, easier, and more effective. 

View the recording of Time Saving Techniques for Course Planning and Preparation webinar co-hosted by Harriet "Niki" Fayne, Professor, Counseling, Leadership, Literacy and Special Education.

The “Why” - Time Saving Techniques for Course Planning and Preparation by Susan Ko, Faculty Development Consultant, Office of Online  Education and Clinical Professor, Department of History, Lehman College

The “How” - Time Saving Techniques for Course Planning and Preparation by Naliza Sadik, Educational Technologist | Instructional Designer, Office Online Education

The Faculty Experience - Time Saving Techniques for Planning and Preparation by Harriet "Niki" Fayne, Professor, Counseling, Leadership, Literacy and Special Education, Lehman College

You can also view the webinar presentation slides and read the overview of thewebinar below - prepared by Susan Ko, Faculty Development Consultant, Office of Online Education.

The Why

Time saving involves more efficient techniques to develop and prepare a course but also those preparations that result in faculty saving time and effort in the actual running of a course. In many cases, these techniques can make the learning process clearer and more efficient for students as well. Developing and preparing a course involves a lot of detailed, time-consuming tasks, especially if it is a new course. These tasks range from choosing and creating course materials, designing learning activities, instructions and protocols, and setting up a course site in Blackboard (for online, hybrid, and web-enhanced courses), to selecting the tools to be used, finding and integrating resources, and creating assessments.

Some time saving tools and approaches for preparation that we are highlighting include course planning documents and design templates, the syllabus and schedule (calendar), rubrics, test/quiz generator for quizzes in Blackboard, preserving and adapting your own instructor content for reuse, and publisher companion sites or open educational resource content.

The course planning document allows faculty to create a week by week plan that students can follow. Faculty can use the Lehman online course planning document from the Office of Online Education, a simple outline, or a more extended spreadsheet that includes their own course development timeline. Faculty must determine the course content, whether texts or OER content which must be found and evaluated, whether to create faculty’s own lecture or commentary material (whether in text or multimedia format) for all or particular weeks, and all these details can be provided in a course planning document.

The syllabus and schedule organizes the course week by week and sets forth all the grading, communication and assignment submission protocols, as well as other major expectations for student participation.

Rubrics for assignments and discussion not only make grading easier, more consistent, and objective for faculty but also help guide and orient students as they undertake assignments. Rubrics can be combined with individual feedback by text, audio, or video (in Blackboard).

Faculty can preserve feedback as part of their own “feedback bank” and adapt for reuse, using simple Word documents or Quickmarks feature in TurnitIn. The best of announcements, discussion prompts, and commentary can all be preserved for reuse, whether in Word or in Blackboard itself (for example, as unavailable folders). Faculty created video content that does not contain references to a particular time or semester can also be preserved, and it is worth thinking about this when making new video content.

The Lehman online course template which differs from the default Blackboard course site, lays out the major areas of the course in an attractive and clear manner, making it easier for students to navigate through a course and to quickly determine each week’s tasks. One can request a development site in Blackboard that contains no student data and that can be used to revise and update after each semester, especially when the live course site is not yet available, and later, can be copied to the live site.

The How

The Lehman online course planning document is a flexible document with four components of learning objectives, content, assignments/activities, and reflective questions. It serves as an outline for building out a course in Blackboard, and for hybrid or flipped courses, should include details clarifying what will happen before each in-person class meeting, during, and after the class meeting.

The Lehman online course template was developed by the Office of Online Education. Organized by weekly modules, it sets out a learning roadmap for students, and it can be used for supporting face-to-face, hybrid, or fully online classes. Copying the template to a class site means that the faculty member need not manually build out every section of the course, saving time as well as providing some consistency to the course layout.
Another time-saving tool for those using online testing is the Blackboard test/quiz generator, allowing faculty to create test questions in a simple Word document, and then easily upload the entire body of test questions into the Blackboard testing tool without having to type in each question manually.

“Date management” is a Blackboard control panel feature that can make preparation more efficient by allowing one to systematically change all the dates in a Blackboard course site to update for the new semester calendar.

Rubrics can be created and integrated in Blackboard so that they are associated with particular assignments or discussion and automatically appear in the grading panel, and can be downloaded to post so students can view them before undertaking an assignment.

The Faculty Experience

Dr. Harriet “Niki” Fayne, Professor in the Department of Counselling, Leadership, Literacy and Special Education, shared with us her experience with course planning and implementation of time-saving techniques. She advised that after creating a complete and detailed syllabus, a course should be constructed step-by-step, module by module, with the end goals in mind.
Dr. Fayne referred us to materials and a video that she created on the key elements of writing a quality syllabus. (See below under Resources, “Prepping for Your Lehman Classes: Crafting Your Syllabi.”)

By completing the online course planning document for hybrid/online courses and by applying her own program template for the Master of Science in Organizational Leadership (which had been adapted from the Lehman online course template), she was able to achieve this with greater ease and consistency. Dr. Fayne provided some examples of layout, detail, and content from the hybrid EDL 805 course, highlighting the weekly schedule of activities set forth in a “before class,” “during class,” and “after class” activity formula.

While considerable time must be invested on course development and preparation, she pointed out that a development course site, rubrics, and the test/quiz generator were three tools that are worth using in preparation as they can help save time later during the actual running of the class.


Relevant Webinars:

To follow up on any of these ideas, please contact the Office of Online Education at online.education@lehman.cuny.edu