Faculty Panel: Digital Course Redesign

Concurrent Session 6

Brief Abstract

Instructors share their experiences redesigning courses in physics, writing & rhetoric, and Spanish through a university initiative focused on increasing student success in high enrollment and gateway courses. Learn about the process, lessons learned, and strategies implemented in each course to leverage benefits of online, blended, adaptive, and active learning.


Dr. Wendy Howard is the Program Director of the Pegasus Innovation Lab at the University of Central Florida, which is an incubator of experimental projects focused on digital learning innovations that can be developed and refined through rapid prototyping and then promoted throughout the university to maximize collective impact on student success at scale. With over twenty years of experience in both instructional design and teaching, her current research is focused on faculty development, collaborative online learning and internationalizing the curriculum through technology.
Anne Prucha is a Senior Instructor of Spanish and TESOL at the University of Central Florida (UCF). She is active in online teaching and learning and is currently participating in a course redesign project that incorporates adaptive learning and Open Educational Resources (OER) content into the first-year Spanish curriculum. At UCF Anne has also been Coordinator of the Lower Division Spanish program and Faculty Director of study abroad programs in Spain and Nicaragua. She currently directs the Journey Cuba study abroad program each spring semester. She is a three-time recipient of UCF’s Teaching Incentive Award program and is an active participant in the University’s Faculty Summer Conference. Anne is also a co-faculty director of a program that partners UCF students with elementary school students at a local foreign language magnet school. Anne is originally from Syracuse, New York and she received her B.A. in Spanish at Syracuse University. She holds M.A. degrees in Spanish from Rutgers, the State University of New York and in TESOL from the University of Central Florida. She is the mother of two daughters and lives in Winter Springs, Florida with her husband.

Extended Abstract

Purpose and Objectives

The purpose of this session is to hear directly from faculty in multiple disciplines who completed the rigorous process of redesigning their courses to tackle specific barriers to student success with the strategic use of digital learning strategies. Through a panel discussion, we plan to:

  • Identify the specific goals for each of the four course redesign projects

  • Explain how online, blended, adaptive, and/or active learning strategies may help achieve those goals

  • Describe what was implemented in each course

  • Explain the redesign process and support services

  • Discuss lessons learned and best practices that emerged

  • Discuss future plans for evaluation and continuous improvement

We would also like to address any specific questions or concerns from the audience and invite participants to share their experiences with similar course redesign efforts.



Data have shown that when well-designed and delivered, online (W), blended (M), adaptive, and active learning outperform face-to-face instruction. In a longitudinal study over 20 years at this university, the blended course modality consistently outperforms both traditional classroom and fully online courses on three scales: student success (final grade of A, B, or C), withdraw rate, and student satisfaction (SPI overall Excellent). Combining the design and development experiences of the Divisions of Digital Learning and Teaching and Learning to facilitate the application of evidence-based instructional practices and support strategies has the potential to bring about more successful learning experiences for students in our most challenging courses.

Based on our historical success with online, blended, and adaptive courses, the university’s Board of Trustees made a strategic investment in a Digital Learning Course Redesign Initiative. Aligned with Collective Impact objectives, this project is designed to increase learning gains by:

  • Increasing successful completion rates in benchmark courses

  • Improving student success, retention, and satisfaction

  • Targeting key courses such as success marker, foundation, and STEM

  • Increasing classroom utilization

The goal of this initiative is to impact student learning by increasing successful course completion (reduced DFW rates), particularly in GEP & STEM courses, and to improve FTIC & Transfer student persistence through a strategic course redesign process that leverages the benefits of online, blended, adaptive, and active learning.


Panel Discussion

With this backdrop to provide context, we will hear directly from four faculty members who redesigned courses in Physics, Writing & Rhetoric, and Spanish:


PHY 2053: College Physics I

New Course Modality: Mixed Mode (Blended, Hybrid)

Additional Attributes: Adaptive Learning, Active Learning, and Open Educational Resources (OER)


Three major strategies were incorporated into the new design for College Physics I as a mixed mode (blended) course:

  1. Active learning in the classroom and in the Evaluation and Proficiency Center (EPC)

  2. Open Educational Resources through Openstax to reduce textbook cost

  3. Adaptive learning with Realizeit online

The instructor prepared new in-class activity sheets with an emphasis on problem-solving since this is a major area where students struggle. Because this is a studio-mode class, students work in groups, and student presentations are encouraged. The instructor also encourages peer learning since students learn best when they teach each other. The course is delivered in such a way that students are trained to take quizzes at the Evaluation and Proficiency Center (EPC). EPC quizzes are based on study sets provided to the students, and the study set questions give a complete picture of the topic students need to learn. After completing each quiz in the EPC students have an opportunity to review the quiz individually with the instructor. During this meeting, students may deepen their understanding by engaging in a score clarification process where they can explain why they answered a question incorrectly and possibly earn back points by articulating sound reasoning.

The cost of textbooks, particularly in the STEM fields, is very concerning. The instructor redesigned the course with a new open-source textbook through Openstax, which is free to students. The Openstax content is now being ingested into the Realizeit adaptive platform so that students may navigate the online content at their own pace. In addition to Openstax content, the instructor also produced instructional videos to supplement the textbook for the most challenging topics, such as Conservation of Angular Momentum and how Moment of Inertia affects the angular speed.


ENC 3314: Writing and Rhetoric Foundations

New Course Modality: Reduced Seat Time Active (a form of blended that is at least 80% online with an emphasis on active learning in the classroom)

Additional Attributes: Active Learning, and Open Educational Resources (OER)


This course redesign focused on shifting a face-to-face course to the Reduced Seat Time Active modality, which is a form of blended that is at least 80% online with an emphasis on active learning in the classroom. The instructor’s efforts centered on three areas:

  • Moving in-person instruction and scaffolding online: ENC 3314 revolves around complicating ideas students bring into the class to prepare them for later coursework. It was important to retain that complexity in moving the course mostly online.

  • Developing spaces for active collaboration online: Given the relatively low class size (25), much of the learning happens through discussion and collaboration. The instructor wanted online activities to give students opportunities to meaningfully reflect on their learning and synthesize ideas, not just repeat points about a reading.

  • Focusing six in-person meetings around active learning: As an entry point into the Writing and Rhetoric upper-division programs, ENC 3314 serves an important socialization function, so retaining some contact time gives students opportunities to collaborate around their learning. These sessions are activity-centered rather than lecture-centered.

Consequently, this redesign addresses the goals of “Improving student success, retention, and satisfaction” and “increasing classroom utilization” by reducing three hours of weekly contact time to 1.25 hours biweekly (six meetings total), while retaining opportunities and support for student learning. ENC 3314 is a required core course for Writing and Rhetoric minors and certificate students, many of whom are expected to move to the new downtown campus with their major programs. It is also specifically targeted at transfer students, many of whom work.


SPN1120: Elementary Spanish Language & Civilization I

SPN1121: Elementary Spanish Language & Civilization II

New Course Modality: Fully Online

Additional Attributes: Adaptive Learning and Open Educational Resources (OER)


The course redesign of SPN1120C & SPN1121C allows students to progress through the material at a pace and level that are comfortable for them and that reflects their actual prior knowledge. Although SPN1120C assumes no knowledge of Spanish, the reality is that many students have some prior knowledge of the language; the reasons for this are varied: (1) they took Spanish in school at some point before entering UCF; (2) they live in an area where Spanish is spoken (Miami, for example); (3) they have family members who speak Spanish. Adaptive Learning and RealizeiT allow students to create their own learning path and concentrate on the concepts for which they need more knowledge/practice. In the past students have not been stimulated by publisher content or practice activities. Using adaptive learning and OER content allowed the instructors to design the courses to be more personal, more appealing and more meaningful to students.

Using an adaptive learning tool allows the instructor to monitor student progress more closely, and supplement where necessary. Instructors can more successfully guide students based on the results set forth in Realizeit, and help them with strategies for success, whereas before it was possible, but more difficult to determine students’ individual strengths and weaknesses, as well as the class as a whole. Students have completed (and repeated) modules for each chapter even though there was no percentage of the grade assigned to it, and they repeatedly reported how helpful and intuitive they found it.

There is often a struggle to connect in online courses in many cases, even when instructors are using all of the amazing strategies they have been taught. A tool like Realizeit helps them identify pockets of need early on, leading them to attend to their classes in a way that is much more effective.

Often students view these required courses as just “something to get through”. Many students struggle with the online delivery mode, either because it is new to them or because publisher content and/or platform is not user friendly or has technical problems/glitches that frustrate students. These obstacles negatively impact student completion rates and success, retention and satisfaction. They also make it challenging for the instructor to encourage students to continue in Spanish/major or minor in it. Another factor that impacts students’ attitude toward these courses is the cost of the textbook and publisher LMS. Currently, students are spending about $275.00 for the textbook and LMS package. With the Realizeit license paid for by the university, they will not have to spend any money.


Group Discussion

After dialogue about the process, lessons learned, and strategies implemented in each course, we will open it up to direct questions from the audience. Then we will wrap up the session with a group discussion focused on audience participants' experiences with similar initiatives in an effort to explore and share best practices for implementing innovation on a large scale in higher education.