Visual Curriculum Design for Online Learning

With many teachers making the shift to online learning, the question that often comes up is this:

How do you develop and deliver your curriculum in a way that creates a meaningful learning experience for your students?

Today I’d like to share an example from someone who I think is doing great work, Caroline-Isabelle Caron, who recently shared her approach within a resource kit I developed for teachers called Sketchnoting in the Classroom.

What follows are the components of her online curriculum.

Course Roadmap

The course roadmap lays out the topics that students will be exploring throughout the course:

I love the balance of consistent style as well as a nice variety in the imagery for each weekly lesson.

I think that’s a great way to give students a sense of the course journey at the beginning of the term, as well as keeping them on track throughout it with a helpful reference to where they’ve been and where they’re going.

Course Syllabus

Caroline-Isabelle also shared this version of a course syllabus, capturing key details but still in a hand-sketched way:

A helpful reference document sharing where things live, the seminar structure, as well as main issues and themes.

That’s a format that students are already familiar with, but the hand-sketched feel gives it a nice touch.

Weekly Workflow

To give students a sense for their day-to-day work, this weekly workflow diagram is super helpful:

This is a great way to help student picture what each week will look like.

That diagram clearly communicates what is expected of each student, but it also provides flexibility for how students will fit those activities into their week.

Sketchnoted Lesson

Then we drill down into a specific lesson, this one from week six:

Note that the “Archives are not neutral” image was included in the course roadmap – great way of connecting the big picture to this specific lesson.

Accompanying this sketchnote is a 12-minute audio lecture that Caroline-Isabelle recorded.

I think that’s a great lesson delivery format for online learning – a short audio lecture with a one-page visual that guides them through it.

Follow-Up Activities

For follow-up activities, students have a few different options.

Than can record their thoughts in an online reading journal:

I appreciate how clear the directions are regarding the format of these journal entries.

Or they can participate in a weekly discussion thread:

This is a great way to facilitate asynchronous discussions around that week’s topics.

Students must complete at least six of each of those types of follow-up activities throughout the term, and only the best six of each are counted toward their final grade.

That gives students some flexibility and leeway – each contribution is a relatively low-stakes opportunity to engage with the material.


As a whole, then, I think that this structure of a course roadmap combined with sketchnoted lessons and a clear weekly workflow makes for as smooth of a student learning experience as possible.

Students can focus on the challenges presented by the material rather than the challenges presented by online learning.

Do feel free to take any of these elements and use them in your own classrooms, be it online or in-person.

Huge thanks to Caroline-Isabelle for sharing this work with us – we hope your students enjoy it as well!

Sketchnoting in the Classroom

If you’d like to dive deeper into the intersection of visual thinking and eduction, then check out the resource kit Sketchnoting in the Classroom:

Add sketchnoting to your toolkit as an instructor as you help your students develop their own visual thinking skills.

There you’ll find short video lessons as well as follow-up activities to help you introduce the skill of sketchnoting to your students.

I’ve updated those resources to make it as easy as possible to share the videos and activities within your Google Classroom or any other LMS that your school is using.

I hope that the upcoming term goes well for you and your students, no matter what your classroom looks like right now!