What is a Course Framework?
A course framework is a model or structure for course design that can be applied to each module of your course. When designing or developing a course, we recommend using a framework to organize your course in a consistent way.
Why Create a Course Framework?
How you organize and present a course matters.
Too much repetition or predictability can hinder learning by causing learners to ignore the repeated information. (Think scrolling past the same old ads in your newsfeed because they don’t capture your attention anymore.)
Too little repetition or predictability can hinder learning just as much. If there’s no consistent structure to the course at all, it’s easy for learners to miss key points, tune out of the course, and just start wondering when it will be over.
What you need is the middle ground: just the right amount of repetition. Repetition in the form of an organizing principle strengthens retention because it gives the learner a way to categorize information and navigate it with less effort and more clarity. When learners can more easily place your course material in their mental schema, they are more likely to be able to retrieve key learnings when needed. (Think clicking on a certain section of your newsfeed because you know where to find the content you need.) In practice, this might look something like including a recurring “Practice” section in each module, even though the practice activities in each module will vary.
Using a repeatable course framework for each section:
- Creates a consistent and structured learning experience in which learners know what to expect
- Helps learners organize the information in a more methodical and meaningful way, leading to increased retention
- Makes it easier for you as the Course Designer to structure and organize the learning experience
How Do I Create a Course Framework?
Take a look at your material and see if it’s already divided in a logical and consistent way. You may only need to add labels to the sections you’ve already created. You can also ask yourself what learning activities will best achieve your learning objectives: Discussions, Live Events, Quizzes, Readings, Videos, Public or Private Feedback? Use those activities as a jumping off point to determine a pattern to apply to each module.
At the core of most learning frameworks are the following:
- Learn - Access prior knowledge & introduce new material
- Reflect - Develop understanding
- Apply - Demonstrate competency through practice & get feedback
These steps are often cyclical, meaning they can start at any point and come back around. How you divide your course is up to you and what makes the most sense given your content and learning objectives. Check out some examples to get you started!
Examples of Course Frameworks
- What? So What? Now What?
- Learn. Dig Deeper. Try It!
- Learn. Apply. Reflect. Share.
- Learn. Reflect. Connect. Do.
- Learn. Do. Review. Apply.
- Learn. Reflect. Apply.
- Prepare. Participate. Practice.
- Prepare. Practice. Play. Push. Ponder.
- Crawl. Walk. Run.
- Explore. Explain. Elaborate. Engage.
You’ll notice that familiar three-pronged base somewhere within each example above: 1) deliver new information, 2) allow learners to process and reflect on that information, checking for understanding, 3) provide a way for learners to practice or apply what they’ve learned, receiving feedback along the way.
So, whether you call it a framework, learning cycle, architecture, organizing principle, structure, or something else… use it to your advantage when designing your course!
Example: “Learn, Reflect, Apply” Framework in NovoEd