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By Royce Brown, Assoc. AIA
Manager, Continuing Education Programs

August 27, 2013

Creating a course can be daunting at times. With our tight schedules and pressing projects sitting down to outline a presentation is usually the last thing anyone wants to do. However this process is important for participants attending your program. For purposes of simplicity I would like to make the comparison between building a course and building a house.

The style of home you have is comparable to your course title. A course title is merely a tag, type, or topic area for your program. Like a home styles, there are several different varieties: Prairie, Shingle, Ranch, Colonial, etc. Like these home types there are also program variations. When developing your course title, consider using a simplistic name that conveys the depth and breadth of the subject to be taught. Avoid using misleading cute names or lengthy phrases you’ll have plenty of time to articulate your ideas during your presentation.

A course description is your foundation. A general summary of what a participant will learn during that hour(s) of education. Like the foundation of a home it supports the body of your presentation. A course description should state the topic area, what will be taught during the program and how it can benefit the audience. When building your course description consider your audience, this is beneficial because it opens up opportunity for participants to gain new knowledge throughout the course.

Learning objectives are the structure for your program. A learning objective is a clear concise description that describes what participants will learn once completing the course. Similar to the structure in a home it is the framework that builds off your foundation or course description. Participants have a desire to learn. Most are motivated to learn when they can identify how a new skill will benefit them. As a presenter, it’s important to take the time to clarify these benefits within your learning objectives. A good rule of thumb when building your four required learning objectives is to consider to yourself “At the end of the course participants will learn…” and then carry out the purpose of how it will benefit the learner.

Credit Designation is similar to the roof of your home. There are two types of designations LU and LU/HSW. Both are important to participant’s transcripts. The American Institute of Architects (AIA), National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) and State Boards require that members fulfill a designated amount of learning units annually and bi-annually. Credit Designation weighs heavily on a participant’s transcript just as a roof’s load weighs heavily on a home’s structure.

The next time you’re tasked with building a course consider these principals and begin building your program with an enhanced perspective.


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