Thursday, 19 May 2011

first post

This is my first post as part of the 13 Things programme.

My experiences with curriculum design are of 4 main types. Firstly, I have designed a large number of English for Specific Purposes Courses. These have included, for example, English for overseas nurses of various nationalities, English for French teachers using English as a medium of instruction, English for various aspects of business and industry and so on.  In such courses,  the goals and content can be quite specific to the needs of the students and so designing such courses involves careful initial needs analysis. Secondly, I have been responsible for designing general English courses to be taught by teams of up to four teachers. Here the challenge is mainly in dovetailing the contributions of the different teachers in such a way as to avoid gaps or excessive overlap; there is a need to keep each teacher's module both coherent and distinctive in its own right and  part of a coherent whole overall, in which the different parts both complement and reinforce one another. It is necessary to build in opportunities for liaison between teachers, particularly to enable them to respond consistently to the needs of students, whilst not depending too heavily on this for the smooth running of the course. Thirdly, I have designed undergraduate modules in linguistics. Here the design has largely been constrained by the content to be covered and the requirements of the institution. Validation procedures require the goals, content and assessment to be specified well before students arrive, and so there is less opportunity to tailor courses to the needs of individuals than there is in English language teaching. Finally, I have very recently been involved in converting an existing face to face MA for distance learning on-line. For this project, I have coordinated a team of three other people, two teachers and a learning technician. The main challenge has been to find ways of reproducing the classroom experience on-line, and this has involved learning about a range of new technologies. In practice, my module has needed almost complete re-writing for on-line delivery. My involvement in this on-line project is what prompted me to join the 13 Things programme, since I am interested in learning about Curriculum Design tools that can be used with on-line courses. Ironically, however, the project has turned out to be far more time-consuming than I anticipated, which is why I am only now starting on the 13 Things.

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