Recommendation 5.2: Materials Alignment
Explain to students how instructional materials and media help them complete activities, and align with unit objectives and course learning outcomes.
Synopsis from Self-Review
Offer brief introductions to contextualize the materials and media used in the course. These can be in writing or short videos. Students connect more deeply to the purpose of course materials and activities when you communicate how they fit into the course outcomes as a whole, and how they serve the immediate learning objectives (what students should be able to know or do after engaging with this chunk of materials). Aligning your materials with outcomes can also help to highlight areas of the course where there may be too much or too little content.
How to Put Into Practice
When introducing and contextualizing your content in the online aspects of your course, reflect on how you typically begin your face-to-face class sessions. How do you create interest? How do you explain the topic’s relevance? How do you provide background and connect it to other things they are learning and the learning outcomes? Try to achieve a similar effect in the online course through a text description or short video.
To show alignment, list learning outcomes that relate to course readings, and also show these on the individual assignments, and on your slides or other visuals. By highlighting these connections you are building a valuable resource to help students study.
By reviewing the alignment of course materials, you may also identify content, interactions and assessments which do not relate to outcomes and objectives. This will likely prompt you to remove or redesign the material, thereby helping to reduce the workload for students and channel their energy toward fulfilling the course outcomes. (See Recommendation 1.3: Workload)
Unit or Course Introduction Videos
A short introduction video or written message helps students understand how each part of the course fits together, how they relate to learning outcomes, and why each part is valuable in their learning. This message can be informal and in your own voice, such as “Hi everybody! This week you’re going to be reading about.… This will help you to be able to.… It connects to the video last week….” Include this message in a Canvas Page, Canvas Announcement, or email to the class.
- View ideas and examples for introduction videos that help students understand how each part of the course fits together: Creating Course/Unit Introduction Videos. This alignment framework from the L&S Instructional Design Center will help you create detailed, week-by-week plans for a course that align learning outcomes, materials, activities, and assessments.
- For more details about writing successful learning outcomes, see Recommendation 1.2: Unit-level Objectives.
What is this?
Effective instructional materials are aligned with all other elements in the course, including learning outcomes, assessments, and activities. Provide a short explanation with each piece of material or media you assign that makes explicit how it connects to the learning outcomes and other parts of the course.
Why is this important?
Being transparent about these outcomes also helps you think through how materials and media fit together into a coherent whole. Improve students’ ability to engage with instructional material by including a short explanation of what they’ll be interacting with in a given week, particular areas of importance, and how they might use the material to succeed in aligned assessments.
Where is this?
Contextualize instructional materials and media and repeat relevant unit and/or course learning outcomes when assigning materials through Canvas Pages, Assignments, and Announcements.
Success Factor 5: Materials & Media
Lectures and course materials are accessible, multi-faceted, varied, and aligned with course learning outcomes.