The final exams are scored, papers are graded, and you are ready to enjoy your well-earned break…
Well, before you head out, keep in mind that there is a good chance that you will have to return and teach the same or a similar course again. Considering the time you spent developing the class, it might be a shame to let all your work be forgotten by shelving it in some place that nobody knows about. Instead, think about archiving the course.
If you think there is even the slightest chance that you might teach the course again, the archived version provides ideas and resources for any future installment. Instead of starting from scratch, one has something that is already developed and potentially reusable. Additionally, many universities are now making teaching portfolios a critical component of degree program or tenure requirements. So, why not take a course that is already finished, spend a little time polishing it, and—voilà—completing a significant chunk of a teaching portfolio! Also, if the course is important for accreditation, documenting any experiences now can prevent potential headaches when it is time to assemble a report. Finally, although you might not be teaching the course again, be a good colleague and offer your course materials and any respective insights to the next instructors. People will remember good deeds when you need to call in a favor!
So, instead of “set it and forget it,” here are a few steps that you can do NOW with your course (including potential technologies):
1. Save it!
Review the course resources (e.g., readings, assignments, video clips, tests) and save any electronic files in a permanent storage location (e.g., server, hard drive). Although Course Management Systems (CMS), such as Oncourse, generally keep courses accessible for longer than the duration of the semester, this doesn’t mean resources are kept for an eternity. When saving course materials, make sure you have access to the files and organize them for easy management in the future.
If you use public websites (e.g., WordPress) for your course, you might want to consider whether you want to make them private now that the semester is over.
- For files: Portable hard drive, server, CMS, Oncourse Practice Site
- For URLs: delicious, diigo, Endnote
2. Document your experiences!
When archiving your course, it is a good idea to note your experiences while teaching this course. What worked? What didn’t work? How did students react to various lessons and activities? This kind of reflection is extremely valuable when re-designing a class, but it is hard to remember at a later point in time. Whether you take a few minutes to scribble down notes or compose a full-fledged journal, document your memories.
- Text editors: MS Word, Open Office, Google Docs
- For URLs: delicious, diigo, Endnote (allow to add notes to URLs)
3. Ask students for permission!
Are you thinking about using your course as part of a teaching portfolio? In order to demonstrate learning among your students, student artifacts are a powerful and helpful resource (especially when combining them with any feedback you provided during the course). Whenever sharing those artifacts with outsiders, ask students for their written permission to address any privacy concerns.
- Signed note
4. Schedule time for updates!
In your course, some topics might require more updating than others. And even if you don’t need to update the content, there are still areas in your course where you might want to adjust or try something else. While memories are still fresh in your mind, schedule some time to explore new ideas, such as courses from other universities. Look for new inspiration while you can, because the next semester (and its commitments) is already looming on the horizon.
- University courses: MIT Opencourseware, Open Yale
- Resources: Open Educational Resources (OER), National Repository of Online Courses (NORC), Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching (MERLOT)