Phenomenal Science is a full science curriculum designed to align with the Next Generation Science Standards. For this course build, I had the chance to act, in large part, as the instructional designer with no SME to aid in content production.
The creators of the Phenomenal Science curriculum worked with Michigan Virtual years ago to build the suite of Phenomenal Science teacher training courses. In 2020, the courses were due for revision.
I was assigned to the project as a course development assistant, but with guidance from a seasoned instructional designer, I was able to act as instructional designer myself. Because we had no SME, we also both acted as SMEs.
We began by using the former course structure and learning objectives to craft a new structure and set of objectives to work from. Then, by way of backward design, we created assessment opportunities (mostly formative) and rewrote the entirety of the content in the process so as to bring more clarity and engagement to the experience than the original version of the course offered.
The challenges were many, chiefly learning the material well enough to take on the role of SME, but I have rarely enjoyed a project so much. During the course of this build, I had the opportunity not only to design a course, but to write it and build it, too! We also had to make tough decisions regarding the rest of the original grade-level-specific courses. In the end, we decided that rendering this introductory course vastly more robust than its original version could eliminate the need for such grade-specific courses. This course now stands on its own as a launchpad for teachers wishing to use the Phenomenal Science curriculum in their classrooms.
Luckily, I was also able to leverage my skills as a graphic designer to build custom artwork to use throughout the course. You'll find those in the project gallery below along with some examples of the diverse activity types found in the course. I've also provided a video walkthrough of a representative module of the course.
In this video, I use Module 2 of this Phenomenal Science course to explain some key design decisions that carry through the rest of the course.