Course Outlines and Descriptions
As an instructor teaching a class for the first time, you will need to determine exactly what content must be included in the course before you can begin any lesson planning. While you will still enjoy the academic freedom to choose the resources and teaching strategies to use for the course, the scope of the content is described and defined in an official document that has been agreed upon by the faculty in your department, approved by the college curriculum committee, and sanctioned by the state.
CAUTION: Don't confuse the Course Outline with the Course Syllabus.
The course outline is a "document with defined legal standing". The course outline is a critical resource that you will use to develop the syllabus and plan your lessons. The syllabus is, of course, distributed to the students and will likely contain some of the information in the course outline, e.g. course objectives, textbook. But the syllabus also contains information specific to the class you will teach, e.g. your contact information, assignments. Building a syllabus that contains information critical to student success is discussed in the next Read section "Building a Learner Centered Syllabus".
Planning Starts Here
Even though every college has an official course outline of record for every course offered, the degree of adherence to the letter of the outline varies greatly by college, department, and even by course. A course in the nursing department, for example, may require strict adherence to the course outline since specific content may be required for state certification. In other cases, the course outline may be more like broad guidelines. Regardless of how strict or how flexible the college or department is...
Information to Guide Your Decisions
The format and standards for course outlines are defined in Title 5, in the Curriculum Standards Handbook for community colleges. Course outlines contain the following information that you will be able to use in your planning:
You can readily see that the information you will find in the course outline of record will be extremely valuable to you as you plan your course and make critical decisions about content, strategies and student outcomes. You can't go too wrong if the decisions you make are guided by this official document. Carefully review the course outline of record and use it often as a resource to guide your choices.