UNSW Course Design Institute

The Course Design Institute (CDI) is designed to guide participants through the instructional design and redesign process in an intensive, five-day workshop. The institute will provide participants with the skills, knowledge, and support necessary to foster a learner-centred environment. This workshop would suit course convenors who are interested in (re)designing a course and who are open to learner-centred approaches to course design.

During the Course Design Institute, a team of peer facilitators will assist participants in the principles, methods, and strategies of backward design and course alignment. Each phase of the facilitation process is designed to model diverse pedagogical principles, including learner-centred teaching and active-learning techniques. Participants are placed in a small-group learning community for the duration of the institute, allowing for rich exchange and collaboration among peers.

At the completion of this institute, participants will be able to:

  • Formulate significant measurable learning outcomes;
  • Develop formative and summative assessments i.e. an assessment plan that maps to learning outcomes;
  • Integrate evidence-based pedagogies and technologies i.e. learning activities, instructional materials and resources, that support the course learning objectives;
  • Develop content appropriate to the course learning outcomes

Participants will leave the institute with at least one developed learning unit, complete with learning outcomes, assessment, activities and resources – as well as a plan for the rest of the course.

Apply now
(applications close 29 August 2021)

Focus topics for each day


DAY 1 will review the principles of backward design, situational factors and student motivation. Participants will think about the primary goal of their course and work on framing their course as "compelling questions". This will help them write an Invitation to Learn, aimed at stimulating students' curiosity and motivation, which will form the basis of a revised course outline.

DAY 2 will look at learning taxonomies and how they can help us write meaningful learning outcomes. Participants will start to look at how the different elements of their course (Learning Outcomes, Assessments and Activities) are aligned - or not - in their course. By the end of the day participants will have clear learning outcomes that will inform the design of assessments and activities for the course.

DAY 3 focuses on assessment, paying particular attention to formative assessments and assessments as learning activities. Participants will design a "Signature Assignment" for use in ther own course.

DAY 4 will expose participants to a range of innovative pedagogies and teaching strategies aimed at preparing students for the assessments that have been designed for the course.

DAY 5 brings everything together. Participants reflect on the week's work and present their final deliverable to their colleagues for feedback and ideas.


Details & apply for the 2021 CDI workshop

Institute workshop details:

Date: 18 - 22 October 2021
Where: UNSW Kensington Campus (or online if necessary)
Who: Course convenors who are interested in (re)designing a course and who are open to learner-centred approaches to course design are invited to apply. Up to thirty individuals will be selected.​​​
Facilitators: The 2021 Course Design Institute will be ​facilitated by Dr Alex Bannigan​ and Dr Peter Neal​ and other several academic staff from across the university.

Questions? Email the team at [email protected].

Apply now
(applications close 29 August 2021)


Past participant reflections

Image gallery