Faculty Partake in Agile Course Design Workshops

This summer, in preparation for a less-than-usual school year, faculty have been participating in a series of professional workshops focused on “Agile Course Design."
This summer, in preparation for a less-than-usual school year, faculty have been participating in a series of professional workshops focused on “Agile Course Design,” with sessions on the cognitive theory of multimedia learning, designing for engagement and inquiry in the remote environment, and the re-imagination of curriculum dependent on physical space and materials. 

These workshops were led by EXPLO Elevate, a global innovative schools cooperative with a mission to “help schools design, build, implement, and continuously improve the environments needed for all learners to thrive now and in the future.” The workshops explored “how to design for student choice and engagement in the virtual learning environment using strategies that will also serve us well in-person.”

Agile Course Design training came as a response to the rapid shift to remote learning in Mods 5 and 6 due to COVID-19. With so many quick transitions from in-person teaching to exclusively online and soon, to a hybrid of in-person and remote learning, faculty need to employ agility in how they design a class, and that agility needs to translate to the kids as they engage in the class.

As the year wrapped up with the last two mods online, faculty recognized the need to reflect, reexamine, and act in ways that would allow them to be more equitable, aware and inclusive in their practices moving forward. Engaging in agile course design workshops has created the opportunity for them to connect across disciplines, learn and create best practices, as well as develop new skills, perspectives and principles as a whole faculty. This training, however, taps into a lot of what CSW already actively does as a community — innovate, rework, edit, and create the most dynamic program possible.

These workshops have allowed faculty to see opportunities and solutions that were harder to spot before. By focusing on course design, faculty were able to anticipate and address issues that they weren’t aware of before and used them as building blocks to develop new methods while at the same time looking at what worked well during GryphOnline and finding ways to keep those components heading into the new school year regardless of the format of our student’s learning experience.

Something that got faculty thinking creatively and empathetically was the "Zoom Card" activity. The Explo Elevate facilitator, Dave Hamilton, pointed out that the options in the Zoom reactions buttons (thumbs up or clapping hands) are pretty limited. Faculty were tasked with making a list of the reactions they needed or wished they had for their classes. They then drew some pictorial representations of “I'm resistant,” “Go deeper,” and “I'm done” and held them up in front of the cameras and showed them to each other. 

This activity helped to inspire new ways of expanding the tools that already exist on Zoom. It also helped faculty to think of more ways to make Zoom classes fun and inclusive and get students to engage in ways similar to how they would in person. 

Explo Elevate’s Agile Course Design workshops speaks to CSW’s progressive principles. It pushes us to be even more student-centered, active, challenging and justice-minded in our class structures, content, and methods. 

Thank you, Explo Elevate!

The Cambridge School of Weston is a progressive high school for day and boarding students in grades 9–12 and PG. CSW's mission is to provide a progressive education that emphasizes deep learning, meaningful relationships, and a dynamic program that inspires students to discover who they are and what their contribution is to their school, their community and the world.