East Carolina University's Teaching Treasure Map: A Guide for Planning and Organizing Courses and Instruction in Traditional, Blended and Distance Settings is a scaffolding strategy developed to help university faculty design the most effective instruction for their unique settings and student populations. The “treasure map” is a single-page infographic that serves as a guide through the instructional design process. The map encourages discussion among faculty to analyze their own unique needs and develop instruction that is effective and appropriate for the audience and circumstances in which they teach.
Divided into three sections: Course Parameters; Instructional Options; and Delivery Options, the graphic encourages faculty members to make judicious design choices. Beginning with course parameters: class size, setting, level, duration, curriculum, and available resources, faculty members are prompted to determine their student audience, the timeframe for the instruction and the required course content.
Once the parameters are identified, faculty are guided through a consideration of their instructional options in terms of content presentation, student engagement (e.g. cooperative learning activities, problem-based learning, guided practice), assessment, and administration (e.g. proctoring, instructor contact/office hours, course evaluation).
After the parameters are identified and instructional options are considered, faculty are prompted to determine the best delivery methods for the instruction. Delivery options are divided by asynchronous and synchronous technologies ranging from traditional class meetings to social media applications.
The graphic is used as a supporting guide during presentations and faculty development workshops. It helps to avoid a potentially problematic, dogmatic approach to working with innovative strategies and technologies in which the facilitator focuses on his/her personal experience and expertise. Instead of a facilitator offering, “Here’s how I do it because it works for my unique setting,” the map encourages discussion among faculty to analyze their own unique needs and develop instruction that is effective and appropriate for the audience and circumstances in which they teach.
The Teaching Treasure Map has proven surprisingly effective since it’s initial use in the spring of 2013. Participants at a recent, week-long workshop sponsored by the university’s Office for Faculty Excellence expressed tremendous satisfaction with the approach, and the discussions started by the graphic have developed into a number of innovative course designs that have met with increased student success and satisfaction. Similar results were achieved making use of the graphic for another university within the UNC system, where it was used as the keystone for a two-day series of workshops facilitated by an ECU faculty member.
In terms of Learning Effectiveness, the treasure map helps faculty determine the best and highest-quality approach to instruction for the students and the setting in which they find themselves. Since it promotes analysis of the audience, setting and instructional options, the treasure map facilitates the development of instruction that does not attempt to duplicate a traditional approach, directing faculty instead to develop learning experiences that best fit the specific situation.
In terms of Scale, the treasure map encourages faculty to consider the resources available. These resources include both university-supported technologies as well as the instructor’s and students’ comfort and expertise with innovative technologies and instructional strategies.
In terms of Access, the treasure map supports a careful consideration of the instructional strategies and technologies that are supported by both the university and the instructor’s personal abilities. Furthermore the analyses conducted with the help of the treasure map create enabling environments by taking into consideration the students’ abilities and skills along with the content requirements for their programs of study.
In terms of Faculty Satisfaction, the treasure map leads to greater professional and personal satisfaction. Instead of being supplied with an instructional template, faculty members are provided with guidelines for making the best possible design decisions for their unique circumstances.
In terms of Student Satisfaction, the treasure map promotes the best possible learner interaction and content presentation strategies for a specific course. Faculty learn to identify the instructional strategies and activities that work best for their audience and the medium in which they are conducting instruction.
The equipment necessary is a copy of East Carolina University's Teaching Treasure Map: A Guide for Planning and Organizing Courses and Instruction in Traditional, Blended and Distance Settings. This is a single-page graphic and is freely available to anyone.
No costs beyond those involved in making the document available.
Allen, I.E., & Seaman, J. (2013). Changing Course: Ten Years of Tracking Online Education in the United States. Babson Survey Research Group.
Brown, A., and Green, T. (2011). The Essentials of Instructional Design: Connecting Fundamental Principles with Process and Practice, Second Edition. Pearson.