Curriculum Design Part 1: The High-Level Planning- Verbal To Visual Video - sketchnoting, visual thinking, doodling, visual notes, doug neill, education, teacher

Curriculum Design Part 1: The High-Level Planning

This is the first episode in a four-part series on using visual thinking tools to help you design a meaningful learning experience. You can view Part 2 herePart 3 here, and Part 4 here.

Curriculum design is one of my favorite things about teaching. The idea of creating a learning experience that gets someone from here to there excites me.

This week we’re going to be taking a look back and then a look forward, first by exploring the process that I used to design the curriculum for An Introduction To Visual Note-Taking, and then by taking a look at what I’ll do differently as I plan out a curriculum for Learn In Public.

Let’s start with some high-level planning.

Question #1: Who’s Your Audience?

Who will your students be? What can they currently do? How are they similar to each other? How are they different from each other?

Start by getting to know who it is that you’re teaching.

For Verbal To Visual, I like to think of the intersection of learners and makers. Does that describe you? Let me know either way – I’d love to hear if I’ve hit the mark with that or not.

Though helpful, that intersection is vague.

To make sure that I was on the right track with the development of the curriculum within The Verbal To Visual Classroom, I sent out a survey to future students to get a much better sense of who they were and what they wanted to get out of the course.

Question #2: What’s The Transformation?

Where are your students now, and where will they be by the end of the learning experience?

In the case of The Verbal To Visual Classroom, no matter what writing, drawing, or visual thinking skills students come in with, I want them to leave with both a solid foundation of those skills, as well as a tailored note-taking process that is aligned with their unique goals and circumstances.

Question #3: What’s The Container?

Are you writing a book, teaching a semester-long course, creating a set of videos to share online, or something else entirely? What’s the context surrounding the learning experience? What are its bounds?

After brainstorming potential sequences, I decided that the curriculum for my classroom here would contain nine modules, and each module would contain a set of video lessons along with activities and guides to learn and implement the ideas shared.

I gave each of the transformations their own section within the course . Part 1: The Pieces – develop text, layout, imagery, and color skills. Part 2: The Point – combine those skills as a learning, problem-solving, and idea-sharing tool.

Curriculum Design Part 1: The High-Level Planning- Verbal To Visual Video - sketchnoting, visual thinking, doodling, visual notes, doug neill, education, teacher

By answering these questions first – before diving into the specifics of any lessons – you’ll have a compass that you’ll be able to consult from time to time when you’re head-down working on the nitty-gritty of your course development.

It’s that head-down work we’ll get to tomorrow.

[April 2017 Update: I’m currently building a resource kit called Sketchnoting In The Classroom for educators who want to help their students develop visual note-taking skills. If that sounds interesting, take a look!]


Want To Dig Deeper?

If you’re new to the idea of sketchnoting and excited to develop more visual thinking tools, I think you’d enjoy our foundational course An Introduction To Visual Note-Taking.

If you’d like to make sketchnoted videos like the one you saw here, we’ve got a course for that too! Check out How To Make Sketchnote Videos.

And if you’re an educator interested in bringing visual note-taking into your classroom, check out Sketchnoting In The Classroom.