Tier-Based Course Design

When it comes to course design, it can feel like there are too many boxes to check in too little time. Where do you start and what are the most important things to add before the semester begins?

WSU Online Instructional Designer Sang Chan has created a tier-based guide that may help make course design easier.

Start with a quick introduction to backward design. This will be the foundation for every tier. Then work your way through each level depending on what you'd like to focus on and how much time you have for your design.

Each tier in the process outlines pedagogical suggestions and builds on the previous one so you can keep improving your courses with a few elements at a time.

And remember, teaching, learning, and course design are complex. Use pieces from each tier, tweak, implement, and revise and talk to an instructional designer if you'd like to brainstorm ideas.

Design Tier 1

Quick Development

  • Offers suggestions to quickly move courses online or virtual.
  • Provide tool options for video recording and synchronous meeting.
  • Consult other tiers for more pedagogical-based suggestions.
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Design Tier 2

Essential Alignment

  • Apply to all course delivery formats (online, hybrid, etc.)
  • Create measurable unit outcomes.
  • Align the unit outcomes, assessments, and activities.
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Design Tier 3

Meaningful Learning

  • Apply to all course delivery formats.
  • Build on previous discussion of course alignment.
  • Focus on deep meaning and learning transfer of unit content.
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Design Tier 4

Holistic Learning

  • Apply to all course delivery formats.
  • Build on previous discussion of meaningful learning.
  • Focus on affective learning in addition to cognitive learning.
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