Collaborative Content Design: An Ideal Vision for Course Creation

Concurrent Session 2
Streamed Session

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Brief Abstract

The Collaborative Content Design (CCD) model creates a dynamic that guides content experts through the design process in an engaged and supported manner. The model helps establish the faculty/designer relationship, then shifts to support a more collaborative design process, and culminates with a focus on student learning and engagement.


Megan Kohler is a Learning Designer with the John A. Dutton e-Education Institute at Penn State. She has presented at international conferences, such as Open Ed 2010 in Barcelona, Spain, the International Conference on Arts and Humanities in Honolulu, Hawaii, and the Online Learning Consortium in Orlando, Florida. Megan relies on her training and experience as a professional actor to create a fun and engaging experience within her presentations and design work. Among her professional accomplishments, she is recognized for her work as the lead instructional designer and project manager on Penn State’s highly-rated Epidemics MOOC. She conceptualized the MOOCs by Design Webinar series and served as the pedagogical lead for the Penn State Digital Badges Initiative. She continues to explore interesting opportunities focused on improving the online learning experience for higher education.
Penny has designed online courses since 1997. She is currently a senior instructional designer for the Penn State World Campus. Her research interests include student perspectives of quality and how this impacts the design practice; and the use of games and simulations in online instruction. She has presented at various regional, national, and international conferences and is a former chair of the Quality Matters Instructional Designers Association. She co-authored the book MindMeld: Micro-Collaboration between eLearning Designers and Instructor Experts with Jon Aleckson.

Extended Abstract

As designers, we rely on numerous tools, documents, and strategies to try and engage faculty and other experts in the course design and development process. Blueprints and course maps are often the mechanisms used to facilitate conversations and to ‘jump start’ the process. Yet we encounter varying degrees of success with these standardized methods since the experts we collaborate with are all unique. They may have several goals, interests, and working styles that need to be considered during the design process, which traditional models may not accommodate. 

Over the past several years, our community has been exploring new and stronger methods for enhancing the course design and development process such as design thinking, the Agile Method, and Relationship-Centered Design. Further reinforcing the mindset that more effective methods could exist. But as they say, hindsight is 20/20 and we have learned from these implementations. 

With a clearer vision of what the process should look like, we established a more effective design process. All the tools, methods, and approaches were set to the side and an exploration into a more organic approach was pursued. The result is an approach known as the Collaborative Content Design (CCD) model. The CCD model creates a dynamic that guides faculty and other experts through the design process in a more engaged and supported manner. The model helps establish the faculty/designer relationship, then shifts to support a more collaborative design process, and culminates with a focus on student learning and engagement.

Plan for Interactivity

Attendees will be engaged in several learning and reflection opportunities during this session. In alignment with the 20/20 vision theme, attendees will engage in a 'lite' design thinking process to envision their ideal course design scenario. They may answer prompts such as; How would content experts be engaged during the process? How would the content creation phase be conducted? What would you do differently if you didn't have to follow the design 'rules'?

Further activities include a reflection on the opportunities and limitations of traditional design models. By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of more traditional approaches we are better equipped to discuss how the Collaborative Content Design model can better support the continually evolving needs of higher education today. 

Lastly, attendees will engage in an activity to coalesce everything they have learned during the session. They've looked to the past, they've reflected on the present, and finally, they'll look to the future to see how well their ideal vision aligned with the CCD model. 


Attendees of this session will be able to:

  • Discuss the challenges of traditional design models
  • Describe the phases of the CCD model
  • Evaluate opportunities for improved collaboration with content experts


Session Agenda:

  • Welcome and introductions
  • Share out: “Describe your ideal design vision”
  • Background of how the model came to be 
  • Hindsight 20/20 Activity: identify attributes of traditional models 
  • Presentation of the CCD Model
  • Looking Ahead Activity: Evaluation of ideal vision and the model 
  • Debrief and wrap up