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How Do You Know When Your Course Is Ready?

This summer, I'm on the verge of accomplishing something I've never accomplished before: having all my classes completely planned and plugged into the LMS before the semester even begins.

A postcard with the public domain "me worry?" face that later inspired Mad magazine's Alfred E. Neuman.
The inspiration for Mad Magazine's Alfred E. Neuman.

This is a big step for me. Usually, I don't get any further than a pretty thorough syllabus with a schedule that lists the major due dates and all the reading assignments. This semester, for my three classes (XCOR 1000, The College Experience; ENGL 2200, Modern English Grammars; and ENGL 3160, Survey of American Literature I), the syllabi are done (according to these best practices), the schedules are done, the assignment sheets for all major assignments and grade items are complete (according to these best practices).

But more than that, thanks in part to Brightspace (which really does make the process so much easier), I'm getting it all set up online, as well. Using the backwards design approach, for each class, I'm doing all this:

  1. Set up the Grades tool with every major and minor assignment;
  2. Make Submission Folders for anything the students will submit;
  3. Create all the Discussion Topics for the assignments;
  4. Create any worksheets or other handouts;
  5. Create all quizzes;
  6. Organize everything and add the appropriate links to the Content page; and
  7. Upload the syllabus.

Most of that's done. This week, I'll be working on #5 — the quizzes, but those are mostly for my grammar class (which I'm gamifying (so stayed tuned for some reports on that down the road). So it seems that at least for two of my classes, XCOR 1000 and ENGL 3160, I'm mostly done.

And therein lies the question: When do I know that my classes are done? When can I set them aside and feel confident that I'm ready — not just for the first day or the first week, but for the whole semester?

Is the answer really never? There are always variables or surprises — something will change — but is absolute readiness possible? Or have I just inched closer to an ever moving finish line? And if I am as ready as I can be, why does it feel like I'm forgetting something?

Published on Categories Faculty DevelopmentTags ,

About Jason S. Todd

Jay Todd studied writing with Frederick and Steven Barthelme and Mary Robison at the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi. His fiction has appeared in various literary journals. Since 2007, he has been a member of Department of English at Xavier, where he teaches American Literature, Freshman Composition, Modern English Grammars, and The Graphic Novel and Social Justice. From 2007 to 2010, Dr. Todd served as Xavier's Writing Center Director. From 2010 until 2015, he served as QEP Director, managing Xavier's Read Today, Lead Tomorrow initiative. In 2015, he became the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Faculty Development's first Associate Director for Programming. As Associate Director for Programming, Dr. Todd assists in providing high-quality, relevant, evidence-based programming in support of CAT+FD's mission to serve faculty across all career stages and areas of professional responsibility. You can follow him on Twitter at @jason_s_todd.

1 thought on “How Do You Know When Your Course Is Ready?

  1. Richard Peters

    XCOR 1000 needs a lot of work..seriously, thorough syllabus that helped me modeled mine

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