My passion for teaching stems from my love for marketing and communication, as I have discovered that creating a curriculum is akin to creating a marketing campaign. In either case, you gather research, develop the best possible product, and evaluate the results while always keeping your target market in mind to maximize your chances of success.
Adult learners have different needs and expectations; student needs vary based on learning styles, schedules, and relevance to professional fields. Harvard’s Dr Leila Samii, who teaches social media and marketing, said: “Today’s adult learners are coming in with more experience and the ability to learn from sources at a much faster rate. . As instructors, we have a responsibility to develop a program that balances theory and application. The material should be thought-provoking to expand the mind outside of the normal thought pattern, balanced with case examples for solving problems that can translate into the workspace.
In my quest to build and develop programs for adult learners, the cornerstone of my work is to create lessons that are both intellectually stimulating and useful.
Interpretations of success also vary according to the students’ references, their expectations, their environment and their objectives. While completing a certificate in adult education at UC Berkeley, I compiled material from several courses to put together a general four-step approach to developing a course program which is structured around organizing content from various resources into a student-centered and easy-to-understand course design for mature students.
Educators have always focused on learning from the student population in order to connect with them. But it is also important to reach a diverse group of influential professionals in the community to better understand the needs of organizations that may hire our students. If you know what qualities and skills the community needs, then you can design a program around those needs. The Institute for a Competitive Workplace and the National Career Pathways Network have released a article which discusses in more detail the growing importance of corporate engagement in education and the importance of the role that businesses “must play in supporting successful models of education in their local communities”.
At Salt Lake Community College, we rely on Program Advisory Committees (PACs) and Curriculum Development Committees (DACUMs) to keep instructors aligned with community needs. These committees are made up of industry experts who help us break down the tasks and skills needed for a job or profession; teachers then use this information to develop programs.
2. Gathering course materials
Now that you have refined your course objectives, you have also refined your search for information. Gather resources that could be used to provide succinct concepts for understanding the learning objectives. A book might contain this information, but I prefer to find unique and specific information that is geared towards preparing students for success in the particular course you are working on.
It’s also important to bring together content that may appeal to different learning styles; some students love to read textbooks, some like short articles, and some prefer video. Creative Commons licensed material, such as TED talks and Khan Academy, contain valuable resources for your lessons; they are becoming more and more accessible and can easily be integrated into your course designs.
3. Course Development
Now that you’ve gathered your content, it’s time to develop your course. Adult learners have specific expectations that need to be considered when developing lesson plans. Teachers should present material clearly, emphasize relevance, create a comfortable learning atmosphere, use a variety of methods, and adapt to meet diverse student needs. A great way to develop lessons is to use an upside-down design pattern, which is explained very well in Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe’s book, Understand by design. In a nutshell, this book is about the importance of looking at the overall goal or learning outcomes you want for your students. Once this step is complete, you can determine what evidence to use to assess the results. Then you can develop specific activities or lesson plans to help students prepare for course assessments.
If you design the course with an overview of what students should know by the end, you will be able to meet student expectations and create a learning environment for adult learners to succeed.
4. Testing and modifying
Finally, the last step is to test and modify the program. You should strive to continually improve the content and design of your curriculum. The best way to improve is to ask students for their opinions. Sometimes you are able to monitor feedback by observing the patterns presented by students. If you notice a lot of questions on an assignment, chances are the assignment description or rubric isn’t easily understood by students. Adjusting your course based on student feedback will allow you to create a quality course that learners will find valuable.
As in marketing, it’s always important to stay focused on your message and your target audience.
“Most people believe that the consumers of higher education are the students, when in fact the consumer is the employer. Every aspect of the program design is aimed at making the student marketable to potential employers. Yes, educators should design programs in a way that is compatible with students’ learning styles, but the ultimate goal is to help students acquire knowledge and skills that will make them competitive in the marketplace,” said Barbie Willett, Associate Dean of Management and Marketing. at Salt Lake Community College.
Once you have completed your research, gathered the appropriate course materials, carefully designed a course, and tested and modified the curriculum based on feedback and results, you have successfully created a course that is both engaging and relevant to the future success of your students. and the needs of the community as a whole.