Instructor’s Guide to Course Preparation & Development
Selecting a Course Topic
If you seek to reach a broad audience with your course, we recommend you review the following course guidelines and select a topic that’s relevant to many different engineering disciplines and/or industries.
For example, power distribution is relevant to almost every industry and would likely have broad appeal. On the other hand, a course on the use of robotics in the capacitor manufacturing industry would likely attract a smaller number of engineers.
For maximum audience appeal, you may want to select an introductory level topic in an area. An advanced topic in any area of engineering will likely have a smaller audience because there will be fewer engineers with the prerequisite knowledge required to take your course.
For example, an introductory course on centrifugal pumps will likely have more appeal than an advanced course on the design of pump impellers, which would likely appeal only to engineers working in the pump manufacturing industry.
You’re encouraged to focus on practical knowledge and skills in your course. A certain amount of theory may be needed to help the student understand the “why?” behind the material you are teaching. However, the main objective should be to teach skills and knowledge that can be applied to the student’s professional practice, so it’s best to avoid extensive theoretical discussions and formula derivations.
Course Writing Guidelines
The course must fulfill the state boards’ requirements for a qualified continuing education course for engineers, which is one whose purpose and objective are clear with a content that will “maintain, improve or expand the skills and knowledge of the licensee’s field of practice”.
Select a title for your course that is short but descriptive. Site visitors should be able to get a good idea of what your course is about by simply reading the title. If your course provides a summary of the different types of heat exchangers and their relative merits for specific applications, then a suitable title would be “Heat Exchangers – Types and Applications”. This is more descriptive than simply tilting your course “Heat Exchangers”.
Write a course overview that briefly describes the material that the course will cover. It should also describe the types of engineers, applications and/or industries for which the course would have particular relevance, as well as any basic or general knowledge of the course material that the student is assumed to possess. The course overview should be no more than about 1 to 3 paragraphs.
Your course must include a section detailing the specific knowledge or skills to be taught or addressed. Some state boards require that this information is included in any brochures, advertisements or announcements about the course. You should think about what knowledge or skills you would expect the student to retain after successfully completing the course and list each in a short, bulleted format.
The main body of the course should be laid out in a logical manner. The first paragraph/section should serve as an introduction to the course. It is here that you want to introduce basic concepts and definitions, describe the importance of the subject and expand on the description in the course overview of subject matter that will be covered in the course. You may want to lay out the organization of the course in the first section by providing a list of the different sections/topics that will be covered.
Major ideas, concepts, components, categories, etc. should be segregated into different sections in the course. Each section should have a title in bold letters. The course material may warrant sub-parts of sections which should be titled in underlined text. This format helps the document to “flow” and makes for easier reading. PDH Source may edit your document when you submit it, if necessary, to ensure consistency in the format of our courses.
Use examples. Examples are a very powerful tool to help the student understand a concept that you are trying to describe or to emphasize a point. When describing the methodology required to solve a problem (particularly where number-crunching is required), provide an example problem and go step-by-step through the solution.
Provide a summary at the end of the course. The summary should reiterate the major ideas and concepts that you want to emphasize from the course. If you want to direct the student to additional resources available on the subject for independent study, include these at the end of the summary.
The length of your course should be no greater than 10 unit hours, although you may want to consider breaking up longer courses into smaller individual courses (4 hours or less), if practical. Where long courses are broken into two or more courses, the first course must be “stand alone”. In other words, the student must be able to expand his or her skills and knowledge by taking only the first course without taking subsequent courses. Where a prerequisite course is required to take a second or third course, this must be clearly stated in the course overview.
You may author your own course or you may use technical information that is located within the public domain on the internet. In either case, you will still need to provide a course overview, specific knowledge or skills obtained and a quiz. Where technical information from the internet is included as part or all of the course material, your course must include a URL to the website containing the referenced information.
Copyrighted information cannot be accepted by PDH Source unless you have written permission from the copyright holder. Where copyrighted information is used, you must state that you are reprinting the information with the author’s permission.
Graphics and images that are part of your course should be embedded in the HTML, Word or PDF course file that you send to PDH Source or they can be sent as separate files.
Quiz Format and Guidelines
Provide a quiz (with an answer key) when you submit your course to PDH Source. The quiz format should be multiple-choice with each question having four answers (a, b, c, or d) to choose from. The quiz should normally contain the following number of questions as a minimum :
- 1 to 2 Unit Hours – 10 Questions
- 3 Unit Hours – 15 Questions
- 4 Unit Hours -20 Questions
- 5+ Unit Hours – 5 Questions Per Unit Hour
The quiz questions should be chosen to test a broad range of topics covered in the course. You’re encouraged to “mix up” the order of quiz questions relative to the order in which the subjects were presented in the course. This requires students who are unsure of the answers to search through the course, helping to reinforce the material presented.
Submitting Your Course
When you submit your course to PDH Source for approval, please include an estimate of the number of hours it will require for the average student to read the course material and pass the quiz.