Podcast: Get Started With Your ID

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Published: Wednesday, April 21, 2021

This podcast episode guides you through what you'll need to know once you are assigned an Instructional Designer and how to prepare for your initial steps.

You've started working with Digital Learning and have been assigned an Instructional Designer. Great! Now what? 

If this sounds like you, Senior Instructional Designer (ID) Adam Davi has a podcast episode dedicated to everything you may want to know about getting started with your ID. In this episode, Adam interviews two of Digital Learning's IDs, Brian Hale and Emily Torrez, about what they advise instructors to do when they're ready to get started collaborating with us to get their online course up and running. This podcast is based off previous article that Emily wrote, so make sure to read along if you want to know more. 

Podcast: Getting Started With Your Instructional Designer


Luis: Hi, I'm Luis Carrion with the University of Arizona Digital Learning team. Today, we're bringing you a conversation with three instructional designers to explore some of the ways they work with faculty to elevate the quality of online learning at the University of Arizona. Adam Davy, Brian Hale, and Emily Torres work with departments across the U of A and together, they have a wealth of experience and information regarding what works and maybe what doesn't work quite so well in the online modality. 

Audio Clip: “…a little tidbit about the generics of the topic that we're going to be teaching helps me consider new technologies that might help the instructor teach students.  

Luis: They say no two online courses are the same or require the same type or amount of support. That's why the digital learning team uses a combination of research, theory and best practices in student-centered learning to support instructors as they develop online courses, stay with us.  

Adam: Hello and thank you for joining us on the Futures in Digital Learning podcast. I'm Adam Davi, a senior instructional designer in the office of digital learning. 

Brian: and I'm Brian Hale, an instructional designer in the office of Digital Learning.  

Adam: And today we are joined by Emily Torres an Instructional Designer, in the office of Digital Learning as well. And we are excited to have a conversation today about getting started on the design process with your instructional designer, or as we may refer to it throughout this podcast, your ID. So we're going to get started with Emily and Emily wrote an article in this month's Digital Learning Download titled “how to prepare for the initial meeting with your instructional designer.” If you haven't checked out the Digital Learning Download, please be sure to do that and sign up and get those monthly newsletters as well. But Emily, please tell us what you think makes a successful initial meeting between a faculty member and an ID. 

Emily: Hi, Adam and Brian, thank you so much for having me. I think a successful initial meeting is when the instructor leaves feeling excited about building their course and all of the possibilities that are ahead of them. Once the instructor knows that they have a dedicated ID to help them and lots of technology, tools and resources at their disposal, it makes the process a lot more manageable. I will say building a course, isn't a like Disneyland fun, but it should be an enjoyable challenge. And usually if I get that vibe from the instructor leading the meeting, it's been a success. 

Adam: I would like to know how to make or building a course Disneyland fun just for the record. And I think, you know, that'd be awesome if we, if we could do that,  

Emily: I'm not sure it's possible, but I mean, that's what we aim for. 

Adam: That's great. What is the one thing that you think instructors should come into that initial meeting prepared to discuss? 

Emily: First and foremost, bring any questions or concerns your ID wants to make the course development process as pain-free as possible by addressing any of these questions or hesitations upfront, your ID can alleviate the apprehension. We're here to walk with the instructor, share research back best practices and brainstorm solutions tailored to your unique needs. So by getting those questions out of the way first, we can remove that roadblock and really share with you all of the exciting possibilities for the course. 

Brian: That's wonderful. You know, one of the things I, when I'm working with my faculty, I tell them to dream big and any ideas they have to bring those to the table and we will investigate ways to make that happen. And even if we can't make something happen, we can put it on the back burner or we can research maybe a slightly different way to make something happen. But it's that bringing, bringing that whole  Disneyland mentality of the world is your oyster. It's the most magical place on earth, make your course, the most magical thing for your students. And another thing I tell my faculty is, think about the courses you've gone through. And was there something in that course that struck a chord with you personally, that you would want to share with your students? You know, was it the way an instructor delivered a video? Was it the style of the video? Was it the instructors tone of voice? Think about all those things when you're working with your instructional designer, because we have ways to make that happen. We've got an amazing studio over in Harvill that the team over there is just phenomenal with the, the great on-screen graphics they can do bringing cameras into your classroom. You know, the bigger you dream, the more engaging your course is going to be. And, and I think, spurring that idea in the heads of faculty is, is really, really important. 

Emily: I think that's such a great point, Brian, especially because a lot of instructors will come to us having taught this course in a different modality before. So perhaps it was taught in person or in a hybrid format. But being able to come to it with a fresh perspective, a fresh set of eyes and a clean slate of re-imagining and reinvigorating the course in the online format. And there's a lot of different ways, like you said, where we can make it engaging and fun, and this is what your ID is here to do. They're here to help you discover ways to make your course next level. 

Brian: Absolutely. And I think that's the key is making it next level because if we just do what we know and what has been done in the past, we're not really moving forward. And I think in 2021, a lot of, of students that come to the U of A are looking to us to have better than average coursework, you know, stuff that integrates the latest technologies, interactivity with a facilitator because we're online because we've been quarantining for the past year, they need that engagement. So all that is just so, so important. 

Adam: And I think also it's important to know too, that a lot of people, you mentioned being at 2021 and we've been online and quarantining for the last year, and there's this expectation of what online learning looks like now, which is very different than what online learning actually is because we've been doing remote learning. And so developing an online course, taking things to the next level, making it, you know, dreaming big and making it exactly what we want it to from a design perspective. And from a faculty perspective, I think is important. And it's possible when you have an amazing team to work with. And you come in with that right energy and the right motivation to do that. 

Brian: Absolutely. And so we we've mentioned dreaming big, but Emily, in your article, you talk about course maps. And so what is the course map and why is it so important to make the dream become a reality? 

Emily: The course map is more than just a perfunctory worksheet that the instructor fills out to help the instructional designer put their course together as the end product that the student will see in D2L. The course map is a visual representation of the backwards design strategy, which is a proven principle to create a student centered and learning outcome driven course. So while we are talking about all these big ideas and questions and how to take the course to the next level, it's also a very, you know, science backed process and the backwards design strategy. It compels these instructor to consider learning outcomes first and learning outcomes, just being what students are supposed to do in order to demonstrate mastery of your course materials. And this puts student learning front and center because outcomes inform what kind of learning tools such as readings and lectures are necessary to support them in achieving the outcomes. 

The last piece is then for instructors to decide how to measure the students' success in reaching those outcomes. And that takes the form of assessments, things like discussions, quizzes, papers, final exams, things of that nature. So that's the nuts and bolts of how the backwards design strategy works. And here's why it's important. First and foremost, it promotes intentionality and alignment. It forces the instructor to continuously determine if they're providing relevant materials and assessments that enforce the learning outcomes. And what this does is it helps eliminate assessments or activities that are kind of out in left field. They don't have a purpose or direct connection to the outcome, and it also makes it easier to provide clear and direct instructions in those activities and assessments. So if you, as the instructor are not able to quickly explain the purpose of what you're asking students to do, then that leaves students confused and annoyed, and they're not going to be able to connect the dots themselves, if you are not able to do it for them. 

Brian: That is a really good point. So I think the faculty have to be able to show how to connect all of these dots, but keeping that in mind as a faculty, let's say, I'm going to work on my course map. Where do I start? How do you encourage faculty to work on this course map? Because over a seven and a half week, eight week course, the course map and keeping in mind, I've got to show my students how to connect all these dots. That can seem like a really daunting task. Whereas like some, some people might just keep in the back of their mind. “Well, here's all the stuff I know I have to teach and I'll just teach it. I'll teach this on week one. And this topic on week two and this topic on week three.” So how, how would you encourage faculty to actively work on the course map rather than just throwing stuff into a course? 

Emily: Right. And you bring up a good point. The backwards design strategy that is typified in the course map, isn't stark contrast to another approach that instructors will typically default into, which is called forward design. And basically by doing this, the instructor tends to focus more on what kind of lectures they want to do, or what articles and readings they want to include. And then they kind of design assessments around those lectures. And then the last piece of the puzzle they have to do is kind of back out some learning outcomes, which often tend to be something entirely different than what they had really intended. So in other words, they're really prioritizing teaching over the student learning. So the course map, although it looks, deceptively simple, because it is a worksheet, it is like a one or two pager. It does take quite a bit of time to really fine tune. 

So what I usually do is I ask my instructors to take a stab at that first week or that first module on the course map, fill out learning outcomes, the learning materials and the assessments. If you, if the instructor has taught the course in a different modality before, I tell them, you know, use that, use your syllabus, use, you know, whatever content you've used in the past, but I also warn them that previous items will more than likely need to be modified, completely reworked or eliminated altogether. Unfortunately having previously taught the class is not a free pass. The course off is a great starting point. And from there, once you kind of have that first week done, I usually meet with the instructor again, and we spend an hour revising learning outcomes, checking for alignment, between outcomes, materials, and assessments. And it can take, you know, weeks or even, you know, up to two months I would say to complete, it is an iterative process, but once it's reviewed and finalized with the ID input, I find that instructors tend to feel much more confident in their course and how it's been put together in spending this time and investing this effort upfront. 

Brian: I think it's so great that you said having taught the class previously is not a free pass. I think that's absolutely wonderful because it gets the facilitator thinking about teaching the students rather than teaching the material to the students. And what I've noticed is when I've worked with instructors that taking the stuff from online, sometimes they will create something that's so much better than what they've been teaching for the past five years that they take what they're doing online and they put that in their in-person classrooms. And that's just another gold star right next to the course map and working with an instructional designer to bring the course up to the next level. Adam, how do you, how do you work with instructors and course maps and designing new content for a course? 

Adam: Yeah. I, I want to add to that. I'm glad that Emily said that this is a, this can be a process where there's revisions and refinements. It's not just, you know, sit down and put everything on paper one time and move on from there. So it's important to know that it is a process and it does take time to go through the learning outcomes and to look at what types of learning activities align with those outcomes and what types of assessments align with the activities and the outcomes. And, you know, I always tell my instructors, everything comes back to the outcomes, you know, when you're lost, when you don't know where you're going, everything comes back to those outcomes. So it's important to have those as a starting point and to go from there, as far as what what's gonna work in the online world and what is, you know, what might be different from other modalities that you've taught the course in. 

And so, you know, it's okay to revise things. It's okay to change. It's okay to use different material, if you need to because it works better. And I think that's is for me one of the biggest challenges working with instructors is getting them to see that and what that, that different modality looks like in terms of the alignment from, you know, with outcomes and activities and assessment. I'm curious to hear from you, Emily, what you would think, what you would say one of the biggest challenges is for instructors developing their first online course. 

Emily: Most instructors I've worked with have never designed a course, either online or in person using this backward design strategy and designing this way is such a big shift from the forward design fall back. It's a learning curve to not only create learning outcomes first and let those be the star of the show. But also to draft, you know, a course, even if it's been taught before, it could be from scratch, you know, having this support from the ID and showing a different way of doing things. It is a little bit of a process and I think because learning outcomes are first and foremost, a lot of instructors, they tend to get stuck in the rut of having outcomes that sounds something like understand why the civil war started or have an appreciation for the arts and crafts movement or become aware of accounting methods for managing inventory. 

So those squishy words, like understand, learn, appreciate, become aware of, it can be hard to move past that. But once the ID is able to be there with the instructor and coach them out of that and really dig deeper to draft those focused action-oriented outcomes, once we kind of can get those dialed in upfront, everything else can be a lot easier to fall into place. So working through those challenges together is, is huge. And it is a time investment, but like I said before, once it's done, the course is really set up to be much more of a success. 

Brian: Okay. So right now we're going to do an example. We're going to take a really bad objective, like, an “understand.” So let's say “understand how plants grow.” Just for example, let's shift that into something that we can actually test against or measure against. So understand how plants grow. That's my objective. What would you suggest? How would you suggest we change that into something a little more firm for a student? 

Emily: I would start by asking the instructor, how do students need to understand it? Do they need to list the steps of plant growth in order, or do they need to be able to defend a hypothesis about the science behind why a plant grows in this particular way? So we have identified, we need to identify with the instructor. Is this a low hanging fruit type of thing where it's more of just a process and you have to memorize it and spit it back out, or is there a lot more to it? And the understanding needs to be sussed out into something more of an analyzing or evaluating, or do they need to create new knowledge? And once I'm able to dial in with the instructor, what exactly are they looking for, then it's easier to kind of pick the right language that will enable students to show, quote unquote, understanding and demonstrate it in the right way. 

Brian: And that's wonderful. The example you gave, you took one idea and you actually expanded it into three different things that the instructor could use in the course. So we've gone from one idea to three different things that the instructor could test against. That's incredible. And from an instructor point of view, having that, you know, explain how plants grow. Now, I have more in my library that I can give to the students and test their knowledge against. And that comes from working with an instructional designer and having them open my mind to these different ways of looking what it is I'm trying to achieve with my students. That's fantastic. 

Adam: Yeah. That was a really great example. And I think it really goes to show, you know, what, what, what instructional designers can do, and also, you know, how you can make your course that much more dynamic, from a learning point of view and from a student perspective, because now you're really dialed into, you know, yes, ultimately you want your students to understand how plants grow, but how are they showing you that, right. And what are these different, what are the different ways that they can, they can expand on that and that you can ask them to, you know, give you that information back, in return. And, and it opens up different avenues for activities and assessments and, you know, all, all ways to make the course more dynamic, to take it to that next level, which we brought up earlier. And, and that all comes back to having those powerful learning outcomes. You know, I think if we can take one thing away, so far today, it's, it's that everything comes back to those learning outcomes and, and that's, that's really where the course, the course growth and design, sprouts from to keep with that plant growth, analogy that we've got gone right now. 

Brian: Yeah. One of the things we have been talking about on our team recently is the difference between goals, objectives, and outcomes. So just real quickly, who wants to tackle that one? What is the difference between a goal and an objective and an outcome 

Emily: I can take it. So, I've been very intentional in using the word outcome. And like I mentioned, a little earlier, the learning outcome is what the instructor is asking the student to do to demonstrate understanding. So like we've been talking about understanding, appreciating learning. Those are really squishy words that aren't specific after all. How does the student understand plant growth? Basically, what you're asking to do is they need to demonstrate in one form or another, even it through a very basic activity or a very advanced one to show understanding through listing or through hypothesizing, those are two very different avenues. So the outcome is the actual action verb. You know, what is the demonstration? Where is the objective is really more on the instructor side of what kind of materials do I need to give the students? What's my goal for teaching, I need to cover, X, Y, and Z topics. I need to provide these kinds of articles. It's really more on the instructor, to come up with those. And those are, they're really a lot more in the background and the student doesn't really necessarily see the objective of the instructor. And the way it plays out is more through the materials that are provided. What's much more important to the, to the student is what am I being expected to do? That's front and center for them. 

Brian: I think that's great that you, that you really phrase that in terms of the student, right. And that's one thing to really hammer home with the instructor. What, you know, what, what our ultimate goal is as a, as an ID, is to, to make things more transparent for the students and, to, to help the instructors show how to make the student experience the best experience possible in this online class. And, and to help the student reach those learning outcomes, and to really show and to demonstrate what they are expected to do, and to have that front and center, you know, moving forward with the, with the course design. So, you know, from an ID perspective, what is a way that IDs can better prepare for that initial meeting and better serve faculty? You know, how can IDs help, help each other in this process? 

Emily: It, it's a very simple suggestion, but when I found to be, very powerful in that first meeting with an instructor is coming in with a notes template, just covering, all of our digital learning services, questions. I know I want to ask the instructor about their background and what is their vision for the online course. So even though I kind of have that off to the side, those notes off to the side, I start the meeting with asking the instructor, what questions do you have? What concerns what's, what's exciting that you have, you know, at the front of your mind, that even if I tell you about all these great resources, you're not going to care because there's just that one burning thing you want to get to. But I use that template as a fallback, just to make sure I share all of the relevant information. 

But it's usually covered one way or another. Just by talking through different scenarios with the instructor or answering their questions, plus by starting with questions, I kinda like to see where's the instructor's head at and kind of go from there. Are they excited? And I can share with them tons of technology, are they more hesitant? And I really have to bring them on board with why online learning, you know, is, can be backed by, you know, design principles that make courses stronger, just to kind of see where I fit in, with their vision for the course,  

Brian: That's a great approach. And I think it's important to, to know, you know, what I hear you saying is to be flexible too, with the instructors. And I take a similar approach where I kind of ask them to give me a little bit about where they are and where they want to go with the course and, you know, I have my standard template, or whatnot of things to show them and talk to them about. And sometimes I can cross things off the list as they talk, as they ask questions and, and think, you know, well, this probably isn't going to be very relevant to them. So let's not spend time talking about it in this meeting, let's go to things that are more important or that are, that are going to be more crucial for the instructor to hear and to know that we do as far as resources and as far as, our role in helping through the course design process. So it's, it's nice to hear that that's, that's a good approach and, you know, moving forward, looking at how we can help as IDs, with this process as well. 

Adam: I enjoy becoming a little bit of a subject matter expert about the course I'm helping with. I'm working on four art courses. And if you know me, you would know that I can't draw a circle to save my life no matter how many episodes of Bob Ross, I watch, I cannot paint anything I want so desperately to be able to be at least an adequate painter of some kind. So like getting into helping these facilitators, write their new upcoming online art courses. I kind of took a little bit more of a deep dive into like what makes up paint, what different kinds of paint are there? What kind of canvases are used, and just knowing a little tidbits about the generics of the topic that we're going to be teaching helps me consider new technologies that might help the instructor teach students. 

So I have one instructor who's going to be going into the Harvill building and having those folks, film her, putting the brush against the canvas at a specific angle and showing how to make certain brush strokes or palette strokes, because they're not going to be in person, the instructor, can't go over to them and hold their hand and move the brush with them. So just thinking about all those little things, and then trying to come up with new, cool ways to get that information across to the students. I'm so glad we've got the folks over in Harvill who are willing to work with our facilitators to videotape really cool ways of instruction. And, just being able to share that enthusiasm with my faculty of, Oh, I, this really cool app, it's an art app. And what it used to do was you could take a picture of a painting and it would be like Google images. 

And it would tell you who painted it and when, and blah, blah, blah, about that. But now, since we've been in this pandemic, this app, they've gone out to all these little tiny museums all over the world, and they've helped these museums digitize their art collections. So you can now tour a museum, let's say in South Carolina, they're having an exhibition on metallic art. You can use this app to take your students on a museum tour. It's just the most incredible thing. And the art instructor like latched onto that, and she was all about this. She was like, this is perfect. I'm going to, and she downloaded it. And she's got some lessons in there about, they're going to go on a “field trip” to one of these museums that's doing paper-based structural art. I mean, what a great cool resource to have to give to the instructor. So I think it's when you're the ID getting a little bit excited about the topic that you're going to help them build not only inspires the facilitator. But I think it can help inspire everybody. Who's going to touch that course to help take it up the next step on the ladder. 

Emily: It sounds so immersive. And what I love, what you were talking about is from the ID. A little curiosity can really go a long way. Even if, I'm not, like you said, you're not an artist, I'm not a math person. I don't know about a lot of these different topics, but you do pick up a lot just from hearing the instructor, talk about their own subject matter. You pick up lots of little, you know, facts and information and whatnot. And even if maybe I don't specifically know, you know, other technology out there, I have a wealth of other ideas in the office that I can talk to and say, Hey, you know, I know this person is really into this kind of content. I wonder if they would know or have inspiration about what we could do about, this particular topic. So it does breed a lot of creativity and can really yield some interesting results. And it sounds like with a lot of what you were talking about, Brian, that the way that filming is going to be done and the apps that are available just from, just from you showing a little bit of curiosity, and it's gone, it's going to take the course, you know, above and beyond. That's exciting. 

Brian: Absolutely. And I think when, when the faculty you're working with hear, that curiosity and excitement in your voice that shows them that you're on their side to help make this awesome course, that all of this work that we have to do on the backside, like the course map, making sure the quiz questions we're writing are testing the knowledge that the alignment is in the course. That's not just, we're not just checking those things off of a box because we have to, that's what makes the course shine. And when you're working with faculty going through this stuff, you hear in their voice, like you get through week one and week two, and then in week three, there might be a topic that they like start talking really fast about and start talking in depth about, you know, that specific topic is what they really enjoy talking about. So you can suggest to them, Hey, why don't we expand this topic a little bit more? Cause you sound like this is something that's really important. Let's, let's drag this out over a couple of weeks. Let's make a big project out of this. Let's do something serious with this rather than just, you know, a quick little quiz and then we're done with it moving onto the next thing. Let's, let's put some, some meat and potatoes into this thing. 

Emily: That's so interesting that you mentioned that. And that's why I love taking the course map just week by week instead of filling it all out at once. And it's just an information dump because that's when you work with the instructor and really immerse yourself, you know, module by module, that's when you learn, like you said, this is the topic that, you know, made that instructor even want to get into teaching. And it's the one that typically it's happened more than once I've had an instructor. It's like, Oh, there's so much good stuff going on in this topic. This is a two or three week thing. And then it's really able to take the course and make it that much more personalized. 

Adam: I'm so glad you both brought up the idea of creativity, because I think as a, as IDs, we do have a lot of creativity in our role, and it's nice to be able to use that and work with instructors who also are creative in their own. Right. And you know, to come up with these, these different ways to engage students. Right. And I always kind of look at things when I talked to instructors. I said, if I were a student in your course, what would I want to do? You know, what would be fun for me? What would be engaging for me as a student and how can we make that happen? And, you know, so I think pulling in the, these ideas of doing that a little bit of research, and everything is great and it leads to excitement. And, you know, I, like both of you have stated, I've worked with instructors where that excitement comes out and it's just so much fun and you get to create something that is different and unique. 

And, it does lend to collaborations like Emily said with, with other people, our department, or even outside of our department to find these different ways to pull this exciting, new idea into the course to take it to that next level, to go above and beyond. And I think that's a really fun part about our role and why I enjoy working with faculty as well, because they, they are pulling in different perspectives from, from their experience as well that, you know, might, we might have never known about, I didn't know I'm working on a cartography class and I had no idea there were all these online map tools, and cartography tools out there that were finding ways to pull into this online course. And it's very exciting and really, you know, brings a, a different perspective to our role as well. And one thing that Emily brought up as well with the course map is looking at it from week to week. And, I want to also bring up that Brian has contributed a little tips and tricks, for this month's newsletter about using dates and why dates are important and, how we can help instructors use dates. So I want to have Brian, expand a little bit on that and how using dates and details well, it's important and how that maybe relates a little bit to the course maps. And, and this design work that we do. 

Brian: One of the things I found out recently was dates are one of the most incredible things that D2L has to offer. You can almost automate your course using dates to release assignments, to grade things. And Adam, you had mentioned before, allowing students to pick topics that are of interest to them. I recently found out that you can use dates to assign students to groups. You can open up all your groups using a start date, and then you can set an end date. Students can assign themselves to groups that they are interested in. And then once that end date hits anyone who has an assigned themselves to a group gets automatically assigned to a group depending on the size of the group that you want. So that helps allow students, you know, maybe they don't want to be working on, like how plants grow. 

Maybe they want to be working on, something to do with cartography. And so they can join that group, instead of just randomly assigning them to groups of five or four or seven or however many. And then, you know, they have to work on whatever topic is in that group. And yes, there's some thinking like, yes, they should be able to write a paper about any group that they're assigned in. Yes, correct. However, if you let them pick their own group, you might get a better quality of paper from them. And then one of the other things I found interesting in one of the modules I was editing this semester, they had the due dates for their assignments and discussions manually typed in. So it would say this assignment due Monday by 11:59 PM, and your discussion response would be due Wednesday by 11:59 PM. 

And that is great for the student because they get to see when their stuff is due, but it's bad for the instructor because every time that course is offered, if the start date has moved forward, those you're going to have to go in and manually edit those dates because they may have been thrown off. You may elect to keep them, but if you go in and edit the title in D2L, and I put some screenshots in the newsletter to show you how to do this, if you go in and put in the automatic date, the start or the available time, and then the end time when you move the course forward, using the managed dates tools, it will automagically, that's my new favorite word automagically move those dates forward for you so that you, as the instructor, don't have to go in every single week and edit multiple assignments with those due dates there, it just, it D2L will automatically move it forward for you. 

But the one thing I did find out that is a big no-no is, don't use dates in the grades area, because what can happen is you can, you can start, an assignment or something with a certain start date. But if you put an end date in there, it will make the assignment disappear from the grades tab, and then what's going to happen. You're going to have every student in your class sending you an email going, where did my grade go? What happened? What's going on? Where's the grades. And then you're going to have to respond to all of those, individually or posting an announcement in the class. So just don't use dates and the grade area that's bad. Don't do it. Save yourself some grief. And, that's some of the, the two major things I learned about dates. I knew they were in there. I knew like, yes, we can make week to show up on this date. And then we can make week three show up on this date, but I didn't really know how powerful dates were in helping me move a course to the next time it's going to be offered. 

Adam: Those are some really great tips and very helpful for instructors, especially moving forward. So I'm glad you brought that up. And I think it ties in really nicely too, with, this idea of, you know, how, how are we structuring the course, right? And how are we building that out? And how can we use dates to help with that as well, especially in an online world, and looking at that and helping students progress through the material. And without us doing all the work right there, like leverage the tools that we have and in this case, our learning management system D2L, and what it can do with dates and making that powerful and making that work to our advantage. So I, I think that's great. 

Brian: Yeah. And a big shout out to Shelly, Rodrigo who, put some, very, very beautiful scaffolding in the, English 101 English 102, there's a date that starts, I think, in week two. And it it's for a single assignment that carries on into week five. And it's the way the dates are set up. Some stuff doesn't appear until you've done work in week two and week three. And you've learned those skills to allow you to successfully progress into the next segment of the assignment. So Emily, how do you advise, or, encourage your instructors to use dates? 

Emily: I would say in a more general sense, the, the course map will really help you see your course, your entire course in a one or two page, you know, high level visual. So you can see, am I pacing assignments, right? Is week three super light, and week four is way too crazy with way too much going on. So just backing it out from D2L, and the actual dates, feature, it really does begin early on because students do need to, like you said, progress through the material at the right pace. But also are they hitting those initial skills, you know, earlier on that they are able to be successful later on in the course. And then another big part of, of this is consistency. So week over week, our students being thrown curve ball assignments, where it's like, okay, we're going to do a discussion in week one. And then in week two, it's a paper. And then what we'll might come back to a discussion in week six? Well, that could be very jarring for students. So having consistent, you know, a few pieces of consistent placeholders in your course, like discussions or group check-ins or whatever those pieces are and making them due on the same dates week over week. So the student can get into the habit of, okay, it's Wednesday. I have to do X, Y, Z assignment. 

Adam: You bring up a great point with consistencies, and that's something that I hammer home with instructors all the time is, you know, no matter what you do have that consistency, because that is what's most helpful for students, to know that I have an assignment due every Wednesday in this course, or, you know, that I know, you know, every week I have, I have a discussion and I have to post and I have to reply, or, I have to make sure that I watched a video by this date, or, you know, do you know, do something along those lines where it's consistent, where it's not changing from week to week. And, that I, I think is key. And I think it's helpful when you have a tool, like Brian is saying using with the, those dates, the dates tool in detail, to help enforce that consistency. And of course, and I think that's great. I'd also like to point out that we made it almost through this entire podcast before, the word scaffolding came up. So thank you, Brian, for throwing that out there, because I think that's is, an important buzzword in the ID world is scaffolding when it comes to our work with instructors. So I'm glad that it made it in 

Brian: Well, so now we've got scaffolding. We can talk about next time. And Emily helped us, by suggesting consistency. I think that's another topic that, that we need to address because that, that really is a big one. And I'm going to be honest, I've never really invested that much brain power into consistency. I don't know whether I just look at a course map and I go, yes, this is right. Or I can actually just look at it and go, Oh, no, we need to juggle some things around because it's, it's too heavy over here. So that's something I actually want to go address in my own. Instructional design is making sure that the course really is flowing nice and consistently, 

Adam: And that's great. And I think, you know, more than anything, I hope anybody listening to this podcast can, you know, take at least one thing away is as something that they can do differently or better, or, or whatnot to, improve their process and course design, whether that's from an ID perspective in working with faculty or whether, you know, for any faculty listening to this podcast, you know, what's one thing that you can bring to your ID or bring to your own course design that can help with that as well. And with that said, I think we're, we're going to wrap it up. I'd like to thank Emily for joining us today and just know that Brian and I will be back each month with, new guests to talk about ID work and, and course design and ed tech and, and any other topics that are fun and interesting in our, our little world. 

Brian: I'm just going to say, thanks everybody for tuning in and listening. And if you have any questions to ask your ID team, please don't hesitate to send us an email. We love hearing your questions. 

Adam: Awesome. Thank you so much. And we look forward joining you again next month on the futures in digital learning podcast, 

Audio Clip: The Futures of Digital learning podcast is a production of the University of Arizona. Digital learning. If you have any questions, comments, or ideas you'd like to share with our office, go to the contact us link on our website. 

Authored By:

Adam Davi

Adam Davi
Senior Instructional Designer

Emily Torrez

Emily Torrez
Instructional Designer II

Brian Hale

Brian Hale
Instructional Designer