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Twokin Consulting: Prioritizing academic course revisions

Updated: Feb 10, 2023

Academic courses are continually in need of changes, improvement, and updates. Should your school use a model where institutional designers help coordinate new course development or course revisions, there can be conflicts in determining the priority for their efforts. Twokin Consulting proposes the following factors to consider for prioritizing course development and revisions:

  1. New programs: New course development prioritized based on launch date of the program.

  2. Annual updates. Some courses need to be updated annually to the most current and accurate information (e.g., an accounting tax course needs an annual update on tax changes).

  3. Student experience. If the student experience is fundamentally poor in a course as measured by course tickets, student feedback, and faculty feedback, priority should increase.

  4. Priority programs: Programs identified as needing special attention due to accreditation or as having special issues may be prioritized for course revision.

  5. Textbook issues: Should a textbook go out of print and no longer be available, the course moves toward the top of the list for a revision.

  6. Accessibility/ ADA requests: Courses needing to be adjusted due to accessibility/ ADA issues and concerns may receive priority over other courses up for revision.

  7. Learning Tool Changes: Courses or programs that need tools (e.g., publisher tools, or external tools integrated into the course) removed or adjusted so as not to disrupt student learning may be prioritized over other courses up for revision.

  8. Course allocations. Providing the program leadership (e.g., program director, department chair) an annually allocated a number of course revisions for their programs. When I have implemented this in the past, I have based the allocation on the historical student credit hours generated by the program. Hence, larger volume programs receive more allocation than a small program. Twokin Consulting would suggest that courses planned for revision should be influenced by the program’s review, course performance data ("DFW" report), student feedback via conversations and end of course comments, faculty feedback, and the desire to add new topics/tools to the course, etc.

An additional useful approach Twokin Consulting has effectively used is to calculate a cost per student credit hour (COST/SCH) metric. It is the estimated development cost divided by the annual number of student credit hours for the course in the past 12 terms. For example, if the course revision cost is estimated to be $8,000, and in the past year, the course generated 420 student credit hours (140 enrollments x 3 credit hours course), then the COST/SCH is equal to $19.04. In comparison, suppose the course is a specialty course and only has an enrollment of 18 student for the past year. As such, its COST/SCH is equal to $148.10 ($8,000 cost divided by 18 enrollments x 3 credits). With everything else being equal, a course with a higher number of generated student credit hours should have higher priority as it will impact more students.

Overall, there are lot of components to factor in when trying to schedule the limited resources for an instructional design team.

Twokin Consulting specializes in helping supporting colleges, universities, and nonprofit organizations in brainstorming strategies and ideas for improving operations.


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