Several of us began discussing these issues toward the end of our first synchronous session in the TLT Group's online workshop "Student Course Evaluations -- from Paper to On-Line: Issues, Questions, and Some Answers" April 27, May 4, and May 11, 2006 - co-sponsored by The POD Network.
We were exchanging questions and comments audibly, public text chat, and private text chat. Here's an excerpt from the public text chat discussion:
"Tom Angelo] Well-designed courses have to take into account the characteristics of the students (and that requires assessment of their characteristics, particularly prior learning and beliefs). But well-designed courses are of limited use if they don't focus on the "right" outcomes.
[Steve Gilbert TLT Group] Can a course be well-designed if it mostly takes advantage of the skills of a brilliant, charismatic teacher?
[Tom Angelo] Perhaps, but it won't pass the "bus test".
[Steve Gilbert TLT Group] "bus test"? I'll bite....
[Melissa McDaniels] Are students positioned to comment on course design?
[Mike Theall] Steve, I don't think you can design a course that way. Sure, take advantage of a strength, but don't rely on it alone
[Tom Angelo] If that brilliant, charismatic teacher (Mike Theall? Steve Gilbert?) gets hit by a bus, can another smart and well-prepared teacher (who's not brilliant or charismatic) achieve similar learning outcomes with the students?
[Steve Gilbert TLT Group] Bus test only applies to a teacher? What if that bus hit the whole dept? Demolished the entire campus.....?
[Tom Angelo] That's the Hurricane Katrina test."