Innovations in Course Design

New ideas for how to think about course design appear in the news and blogosphere frequently. Below are a couple of innovations that appear to have some traction:

Backward Design: A (relatively) new trend in course design is to implement what is called Backward Design, which involves designing a course in a way that starts with your learning goals first and works backward from there to develop the assignments and course structure.  For more details on backward design and how it can be used to help you develop or redesign your course, check out these resources from Georgetown University and Vanderbilt University. Also read past CTL Fellow Kathleen Archer‘s report on implementing backward design in one of her Trinity courses.

Flipped Classroom: The flipped classroom (also known as “peer instruction”) has garnered a lot of media attention recently. A flipped classroom occurs when students are asked to watch a video of a lecture and/or carefully read course materials outside of class –  and class time is then used interactively to help students synthesize and deeply understand the materials. For an excellent (and detailed) explanation of the flipped classroom, we recommend these resources from Vanderbilt University and the University of Texas. There is also a blog focused on the flipped classroom that can be accessed at Finally, click here for a one-minute video clip that defines the flipped classroom.