Guided Projects give learners the ability to follow along with instructors as they execute projects with real-world applications. This article outlines content specifications for Guided Projects and Coursera's pedagogical principles.
Guided Projects vs. Courses
Guided Projects are intended to involve learners in hands-on application of knowledge continuously rather than building foundational knowledge). A Guided Project should show the learner, step by step, the actions needed to arrive at a final artifact that the learner could potentially put in a portfolio or use as a building block for their job.
Note: Guided Projects work best when the learner is able to mirror the steps demonstrated by the instructor, allowing them to work on the same project (the same scenario).
There should be a need for a software application that is used throughout the project. It can be a central topic to completing the project, like “Learn how to use Google Docs”. The software application can also be the way for the instructor to teach a more abstract skill, such as “Learn how to write amazing essays using Google Docs”.
Using a Guided Project, you can save the time and effort for learners to go through this process and jump straight into learning as workspace is automatically provided to learners, based on configuration that is done by the instructor. This makes it especially appealing when a software is used that requires installation or needs to be configured and/or adapted for the purpose of the taught topic.
Using a Guided Project, learners can follow along with the instructor as the instructor goes through specific steps based on the "worked example" effect.
To make the most of this, we recommend that instructors demonstrate an activity while the learner mirrors those steps in their software environment.
If there are multiple examples of the same type of problem, the instructor should fully demonstrate at least one with the learner. In subsequent examples, the instructor can ask the learner to try on their own (while pausing the video) before revealing the solution (again working through the steps).
If the instructor is seeking to explain theoretical concepts or to teach conceptual knowledge that doesn't require a software application, a course would be a great choice rather than a Guided Project.
At a glance, here are our content requirements and recommendations for Guided Projects:
Optionally you can also include a graded quiz at the end of your guided project. The first task of your Guided Project should welcome and introduce the learners to the project. You should introduce your audience, learning objectives, and any prerequisites if needed.
It's important that instructors introduce themselves and express their enthusiasm for offering the course. This is a great opportunity to help motivate learners and demonstrate the value of taking the project. We also recommend that each task is short and concise and be 4-7 minutes in length.
If you decided to include a quiz at the end of your project (remember quizzes are completely optional), you should have at least 1 quiz question per learning objective. Each quiz question should also include feedback to the learner. Learn more about optimizing assessment feedback.
Coursera’s Pedagogy Principles incorporate findings from peer-reviewed educational research and learning science. Guided Projects should follow Coursera's Pedagogy Principles.
Clearly define the desired outcomes and skills for learners. Your learning objectives may be what completes a statement like "By the end of this Guided Project, you will be able to…".
Know your audience
Before you develop your learning materials, try asking Who is your audience? Your content might be useful for many people, but the primary audience you want to reach should be learners who need your Guided Project. Your Guided Project should be designed to teach to the identified audience. Learn more about designing an online curriculum.
Instructional materials should scaffold the learning path by helping learners build their skills and knowledge step by step as they work through your project. We recommend defining your learning objectives and designing the tasks in your project to teach those objectives before creating your instructional materials.
Create an inclusive course climate
It's crucial to create an inclusive online learning environment in your Guided Project. This helps learners feel confident to make mistakes and take risks, which is integral to learning. Here are some recommended strategies to create an inclusive course climate:
- Create content with a global audience in mind.
- Design inclusive content and model inclusive language.
- Model positive behavior and attitudes.
- Represent diverse cultures, genders, ages, ethnicities, and perspectives in instructional materials.
- Highlight the relevance of the project to real-world situations learners face.
Learn more about creating an inclusive course climate.