A Collaborative Approach to Course Redesign with Student-Centered Learning Just One Click Away

Concurrent Session 3

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Details of an innovative, blended learning course design that promotes student affordability and interactive learning just one click away will be provided.


Robert Herrick is a Robert A. Hoffer Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering Technology in Purdue University’s College of Technology. As a fall 2013 IMPACT faculty fellow, he is working to incorporate more active learning opportunities into his freshman-level electrical engineering technology course by leveraging instructional tools which promote student engagement and appeal to diverse learning styles. Herrick's work with the IMPACT program also influences his work as a Faculty Fellow of the new Purdue Polytechnic Institute (PPI).
Debra Runshe is an Instructional Designer at Purdue University working in Teaching and Learning Technologies, a unit in Information Technology at Purdue. Her experiences working with teaching and learning technologies in academia and K-12 have been varied, from teaching to administration, from supporting instructors to participating in national endeavors as part of National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Education grants, and as a Carnegie CASTL Scholar. As an instructional designer, she assists faculty in redesigning their courses to improve student learning gains through a student-centered learning environment.

Extended Abstract

This presentation will focus on one course redesign, ECET 17700, Data Acquisition and Systems Control. ECET 17700 is a second semester course in a significantly revised electrical engineering technology curriculum. The design and structure of the course was developed by a team of faculty members from the School of Engineering Technology. The course consists of two interactive lecture classes and a lab each week. The new curriculum was implemented in fall 2011; the initial offering of ECET 17700 took place in spring 2012. The instructor, Professor Robert Herrick, then made additional revisions to the course through participation in the IMPACT (Instruction Matters: Purdue Academic Course Transformation) program during the fall of 2013. In the past year, Professor Herrick has continued to revise the course to utilize LON-CAPA as both an eLearning platform as well as a free, powerful, fully customizable, online assessment system that can offer immediate feedback for students and problem analytics for instructors. He uses LON-CAPA as a central repository for his enhanced eText (hosted by Skyepack) and active learning materials.  Herrick couples these online elements with his innovative, interactive teaching practices, actively engaging the students in teamwork during class time.

IMPACT is a Purdue University Provost’s initiative facilitated through the collaborative efforts of the Center of Instructional Excellence (CIE), Information Technology at Purdue (ITaP), University Libraries, and Discovery Learning Resource Center (DLRC). Using research findings on sound student-centered teaching and learning practices, over 100 faculty have redesigned their courses enhancing student learning, competence, and confidence. IMPACT has transformed over 120 courses, changing the learning environment for over 25,000 students. IMPACT’s focus on student-centered teaching and active learning made ECET 17700 an excellent candidate for the program during this phase of revisions. Professor Herrick focused on incorporating a variety of instructional technologies to enhance the active learning strategies already in place and utilize some new team-building strategies. Some of the interventions planned for the IMPACT-redesigned course included: online videos to introduce students to new concepts and skills, creating a flipped classroom; and incorporating active learning techniques in the classroom, such as small group activities, that allow students to apply the concepts they were introduced to in the videos. The goal of the redesign was to enhance student learning through an interactive classroom, exploring/introducing new learning techniques and technologies, increase student engagement in the subject matter and with each other, and to retain key building block concepts.

Enhancements to the course continue to evolve. Herrick was accepted into Purdue’s Affordable Textbook program (eText) primarily due to his innovative approach to eText, which includes the incorporation of LON-CAPA (Learning Online Network with Computer-Assisted Personalized Approach), a free, open source learning content management system with an assessment component that integrates with Blackboard. Through LON-CAPA, Herrick has the ability to design test and practice resources that can be static (identical for each student) or dynamic (creates randomized versions of the same basic problem).  This assessment system allows for formative feedback, which helps Herrick shape his instruction based on the needs of those particular students. LON-CAPA also allows him to share learning resources (text, problems, and problem analytics) across universities. This free platform allows Herrick to organize his content into lessons and further divide these lessons into modules. LON-CAPA allows Herrick to create an environment where all items relevant to the lesson are only one link click away from within the LON-CAPA assignment problem, including:
•    the relevant section of an eText offered online through Skyepack
•    a captioned video that actively demonstrates lesson content on (1) the focused content module and (2) the full lecture with supporting moderated PowerPoint presentation
•    a captioned “SolveIt” video that demonstrates how to solve practice problems which reflect the student-interactive assessment problems
•    lab preparation videos
•    PowerPoint PDFs for both the individual modules and the full lesson
•    problems that provide students with immediate feedback and the ability to practice skills/concepts at their own pace with multiple attempts possible and with the potential for problem variation
•    practice problems that are the same as the graded assessment problems with different values so students can develop their understanding before or while attempting the graded assessment problems

Through Purdue’s Affordable Textbook program, Professor Herrick continues to receive support for video editing, captioning, copyediting, and accessibility support, as needed.  Participating in Purdue University’s IMPACT program also afforded Professor Herrick a support team from a variety of units. This unique collaboration of support team members from a variety of units contributes to the systematic changes that are occurring on campus. The teams within the Teaching and Learning Technologies unit, part of Purdue University’s Information Technology at Purdue (ITaP), offered Professor Herrick access to professionals that continue to seek out technologies that focus on advancing the innovative and evolving use of technology to facilitate learning. Connections to other units on campus and to outside vendors were also helpful in the current course design. In fact, these collaborations were critical in this evolving redesign, resulting in a course focused on student success.

Presenters of this session include the faculty member responsible for the redesigned course, an Instructional Designer who was the Primary IMPACT Support Team member for the course redesign, and an Educational Technologist focused on exploring the use of innovative technologies and learning including eText and LON-CAPA. The presenters’ unique perspectives of this very successful course redesign at Purdue University offer insights into the process that will be valuable for all participants.

In this interactive session, participants will be encouraged to ask questions and consider ways in which the strategies discussed could be implemented at their institutions and in their courses. Participants of this session will be able to:
•    discuss pedagogies and principles that are shared, such as
o    the principles of backward course design utilized in the redesign
o    strategies for incorporating group work
o    problem-based learning
o    informed learning based on immediate, formative feedback
•    identify a variety of innovative technologies available to enhance the classroom experience creating a student-centered learning environment, and
•    articulate the importance of collaboration in the redesign process of this course.