Lucas Center Blog

What is Trending in Course Design?

May 27, 2020  / Jackie Greene, EdD 

I don’t know about you, but I am spending way too much time watching HGTV. I guess my “habit” may be due to spending vast amounts of time at home and suddenly realizing my relatively new house needs some updating.  Deciding whether I need a complete gut, a flip, or a minor remodel is still unclear; however, I know some improvement is needed in both form and function. Since I was recently involved in facilitating a Course Design workshop it occurred to me that course design and “house design” share many similarities and course design actually has a guru with star quality, Dee Fink (, whose course design principles might help me with my house.

Fink advises to begin the process of course design by tapping into my hopes and dreams for my students….what long term impacts do I want my course to have on my students?  I think I could apply that to my house redesign. I want my students to gain long term satisfaction as learners so, part of my course design must support learning how to learn along with engaging students in exciting opportunities to learn. I think I can apply the concept of satisfaction and engagement to my house issue.

The “Scott Brothers” (HGTV) and Dee agree the next step is to inventory what I already have. My house has some “old stuff” that used to be in style and some contemporary stuff along with some timeless stuff. I would call it eclectic. I began to look around as if I entered my house for the first time and sensed it lacked clarity because of too much clutter.  All the stuff meant something to me at one time or another, but was it relevant to my current life? Does a plethora of “stuff” hide the design style I am trying to communicate? Some of my unique art pieces were getting lost among the stuff; visitors could not engage with them on a deep level or even notice them. I had to decide what was truly meaningful and what was just “stuff…” What would help my husband and me truly find satisfaction and support our ability to engage with our surroundings on a deep level? My house had become content heavy just like many courses in current college curriculums. Have you lately taken inventory of your course content? Is the content functional for 21st century life, does it welcome deep engagement or surface “looks,” is it feasible for students to manage?  Maybe it is time to take inventory especially as many of us transform our courses to the virtual world.

I have only started the decision-making process in terms of home design (gut, flip, remodel); however, some faculty colleagues spent considerable time with Dee Fink and the Lucas Center last week designing/redesigning courses. Many found their courses were full of stuff that did not align to their goals for teaching and learning. Some decided their assessment plan was troublesome in the virtual world. Some explored the concept of authentic assessment and found authentic assessment made great sense as they moved their courses online.  If you are interested in this concept of assessment use this link ( or visit the Lucas Center Blog (

If you are interested in doing some redesign or design work on your course(s) join us for our next Course Design Academy beginning June 22-26.  Watch for a registration announcement or visit the Lucas Center website (Professional Development).