Calendar Descriptions – Jane Holbrook

Students at the University of Denver

My pet peeve is a slightly different. When students go and look at descriptions of courses in the UW course calendar they will see the course number and an array of codes for the “type of instruction”, e.g.,  LEC, TUT or SEM or LEC, LAB as well as a very brief description of the course that usually does not include any information on how the learning will happen in the course, only about what will be learned in terms of content. A search in the Schedule of Classes gives a bit more information about the amount of time spent in the LEC and TUT each week. This information does not provide any insight into what students can expect to be doing in the 8-10 hours a week that they spend on a course in “class” and outside of “class”.  Courses where students are required to watch online lectures and engage in group work in their classes usually have the LEC designation, and the way the course is actually taught may be a bit of a surprise to students when they come to the first class.  Many courses on campus expect students to participate in online tutorials and discussions may or may not have a TUT or DISC designation.

A course is made up of learning  experiences that are integrated together and take place with the instructor and/or class mates and independently in a variety of environments: face-to-face, online and offline. We should be able to give students more information (other than word of mouth) about how they will be learning before they come to the first class.  It’s exciting that there are so many ways that students can learn inside and outside the class room and in the community, it would be great to have a way to communicate the richness of the experiences that will be offered in courses to students when they are deciding what to take each term. The current calendar and course schedule designations seem limited. What’s the solution? Maybe course descriptions that include how and where students will learn rather than content topics, or areas in the course schedule where instructors can outline what’s special about their course each term. Any ideas?  This is a blog, so comments and ideas are welcome.

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Jane Holbrook

As Senior Instructional Developer (Blended Learning), Jane Holbrook helps to develop faculty programming that promotes the effective use of the online environment in on-campus courses. Working closely with Faculty Liaisons, CEL (Centre for Extended Learning) and ITMS (Instruction Technologies and Multimedia Services), she helps manage initiatives related to “blended learning” courses. She received her BSc and MSc from Dalhousie University but has also studied Graphic Design at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.

One thought on “Calendar Descriptions – Jane Holbrook”

  1. I think that this would be more relevant in cases where students actually got to choose which courses they take. Engineering students, for the most part, have very little choice about their course selections, so that while it might be possible to get them excited about their upcoming courses, it doesn’t help anyone that much. Word-of-mouth from upper-year students is one way that students can and do hear about the courses they will take.

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