Building a Course Outline: Taking the Guesswork Out Of Coursework

Writing a course outline has been greatly simplified with COMMS through the use of contribution templates, a database of learning outcomes and other standards, and automatic design and formatting. COMMS makes course outlines consistent, presentable, and easy to write.

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COMMS stores contribution templates to reflect the different types of courses offered by the school. Once a contribution is selected, COMMS displays only the course outline sections required for the course. Each part is editable independent from the rest of the course outline, with clear instructions on the page and in the embedded Help system to guide instructors through each section.

COMMS can be populated with the necessary Essential Employability Skills, Vocational Learning Outcomes, or Degree Program Learning Outcomes for all offered programs. Instructors can map the learning outcomes to the coursework by placing checkmarks into boxes.

COMMS stores all information online, so incomplete course outlines are automatically saved with any submitted information and can be accessed anytime, anywhere. All that is needed is a network username and password.

Getting Course Outline Approval: Streamlining the Process

Once a course outline has been submitted for approval, COMMS has streamlined the approval process to save the time and energy of everyone involved.

Notifications are sent via e-mail whenever a writer submits an outline to their program coordinator. Once the coordinator vets the outline, another e-mail is sent to the department chair, letting them know that an outline is ready. This speeds up the process and helps instructors save countless hours in tracking down supervisors for approval.

If the course outline needs to be sent back for editing, supervisors can add comments to explain exactly what needs changing. This saves time wasted on chasing supervisors for an explanation, or guessing and doing it incorrectly for a second time.

The COMMS Report Generator: Ensuring a Complete Curriculum

COMMS includes a report generator that collects information and can instantly compare courses across a program, check on a program’s adherence to learning outcomes, and display course outline completion rates. The reports generator allows supervisors to track and modify the goals of both individual courses and the overall program, improving their delivery by ensuring complete adherence to curriculum standards.

One report shows supervisors all the course outlines across a given program. This makes it easy to compare the assignments, learning activities, and course learning requirements. Supervisors can review this information and potentially create opportunities for collaboration between courses, or rework a course’s objectives to eliminate any redundant or overlapping learning requirements with other courses.

Other reports bring information from multiple course outlines together to map the delivery of Learning Outcomes or Essential Employability Skills across a program. These reports show which learning outcomes are represented, how often each one is addressed in which course, and can even sort the by program level. There’s even a course to track the completion rate of course outlines in a program.

Supervisors can use the information provided by the report generator to build more effective courses and better align their programs with recommended learning outcomes.

The Finished Product: Sharing and Comparing Course Outlines

Once the course outline has been approved, COMMS creates a high-quality PDF file for download and distribution. These files are stored in COMMS and can be distributed on the web or in hardcopy in class. The archived outlines stored in COMMS can be compared side-by-side with current versions in following academic years to track the evolution of the course delivery methods.

COMMS can also associate Course Section Information (CSI) sheets to course outlines for individual sections of the offered course. These sheets specify due dates, schedule of events, and instructor information for a given course section in a specific semester. The CSI gives students all the information about a given course that is not included on a course outline. By having Course Section Information sheets ready and available alongside the outline, students can be fully prepared for the class on day one.

© 2014 Algonquin College of Applied Arts and Technology