Course Design with the 3-Column Table


I jump at the chance to use technology to improve learning whenever I see an opportunity. The course I’m currently enrolled in for the Digital Leading and Learning Masters program at Lamar University is called Creating Significant Learning Environments. This course has provided me with an opportunity to strategically think through how I, as a district administrator, would plan a unit for teachers and students in the area of Career and Technical Education. In thinking about this unit, I started with the end in mind—a far-reaching objective that has the potential to significantly change how we facilitate learning for CTE students. My Big Hairy Audacious Goal is to:

“The learner will use 360-degree photographic environments and resources to explore real-world job sites and share these environments in the CTE classroom.

What follows is are documents, the templates of which were created by L. Dee Fink and Dwayne Harapnuik, that have been instrumental in my planning process.

Learning Environment and Situational Factors

Context of the Learning Situation
Generally, 25 students comprise a high school CTE classroom. Classes meet for 90 minutes every other day (block scheduled). Classes are primarily taught live, but, being that our district is one-to-one, there is a perfect opportunity to introduce blended elements to the class. Students have access to a plethora of technology tools. CTE students are expected to earn a state-recognized certification upon completion of a CTE pathway (at least two courses for three or more credits). In addition to these district expectations, there is a societal expectation for students to graduate from high school college and career ready.

Nature of the Subject
Career and Technical Education courses are by and large practical in nature. They focus on preparing students for the workforce using the latest methods and resources prescribed by industry.

Characteristics of the Learners
Student learners in my district vary greatly in demographic factors. The district is comprised of approximately 215,000 students, 40,000 of which are enrolled in a CTE course. With such a large sample, you can imagine that there is a wide range of socio-economic, personal, cultural, and family situations. CTE studens approach the couses offered generally in one of two ways: 1. They are taking the course as an elective because they have some interest in it, but might not have the room in their schedules to take an entire pathway; 2. They are actively preparing for a career in the industry their pathway is preparing them for.

Characteristics of the Teacher
For the most part, the CTE instructors in my district are eager to learn more about the content of their subject, and they are constantly seeking out ways to improve their teaching craft. One of the interesting (sometimes challenging) things about CTE is that the teachers fall in to two camps: longtime educators or folks who have recently entered the teaching profession from industry. Those who have been teaching for many years know very well how to manage a classroom, but they might not be as up-to-date on the latest trends of the industry. Conversely, the new teacher straight from industry is up to speed on the latest industry trends, but he or she might not be as comfortable running a class full of high school students as the teacher who has been doing it for a while. As an administrator, my goal is to build upon their strengths and provide or facilitate training where an instructor might be lacking.

Formulating Significant Learning Goals

A year or more after this course is over, I want and hope that students will reflect upon the process that they undertgook in this course and continue to leverage technology to enhance their educational opportunities.

Foundational Knowledge
Learners will analyze how building and using immersive virtual environments can impact the learning opportunities in the CTE classroom.

Application Goals
Learners will evaluate the best technology tools for creating virtual worksite environments. Furthermore, learners will create and share virtual environments with technology tools.

Integration Goals
Learners will visualize how to best virtually represent work-place environments and equipment. They will also compare the virtual environments they create with real-world physical workplace environments.

Human Dimensions Goals
Students will learn the choices they make around they technology they employ will have a direct impact on how they themselves and fellow students interact with their virtual environment creations.

Caring Goals
Designing a virtual world requires one to put himself in the shoes of another and consider how others might learn best. This action involves empathy. Additionally, a benefit to creating virtual environments means they will be available to those students who might not have the opportunity to visit a real-world, physical worksite for any number of reasons.

Learning-How-to-Learn Goals
It is my hope that this unit will allow students to reflect on creating environments that will help them and their peers have access to environments that will augment their learning experiences. By constantly reviewing the feedback they receive from their peers and instructors, they can continue to refine their work.


Fink, L. D. (2003) A Self Directed Guide to Designing Courses for Significant Learning. Retrieved from

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