Step 0: Going From Concept to Creation


Once upon a time, a man had an idea. The man pondered the idea over and over again for many years until a Fairy Grad Student *poofed* into the man’s office. The Fairy Grad Student waved her magic wand and the Tabletop Games & Leadership Course was completed.

Okay, so maybe the creation of this course wasn’t quite that magical, but it was still pretty amazing to be a part of!

When JS and I first started working together, we found that our work styles lend themselves hand-in-hand to complete the full picture. JS thinks big picture, I see all the details. He wants to see something grandiose happen on campus, I set the deadlines to make it happen. Therefore, when JS mentioned how much he would love to have a leadership course that was taught completely through tabletop games, I responded, “You’ll be teaching it fall semester“. And he thought I was kidding!

True to my structured self, I set out to create a whiteboard of lists of what we needed to get done and by when. For example, our Canvas site (the online portal where students submit assignments and locate readings) could be completed in May, but grant writing and material collection would be much more helpful if they happened near the March timeline. However, we found the most logical idea was to start with brainstorming.

During this stage we started calling ourselves “The Mountainbuilders”. Why this name? When you think of a mountain, you have the wide base that pushes up towards the middle point: similar to how we work together of finding the overlapping areas of our ideas and building off of them to create something bigger and better. We created a spider web chart that filled an entire large wall post-it note. (You will learn quickly that I have an obsession with office supplies, post-it notes in particular.) From this chart, we created a more structured chart (with more post-its!) that broke down our themes into the number of weeks we had in a semester, what the learning outcomes were, what materials we would need, and what assignments might look like.

spider web

The original spider web we used to brain storm the ideas for the class.

What is important to note is that the material on these post-it notes and the location of them changed on a daily basis. Just because we agreed on a topic or game, didn’t mean we kept it throughout the entire project. As a matter of fact, we changed the entire approach to our assignments in the course halfway through the semester! (More on the awesomeness of that creation later….) Change was a constant piece of our process.

postit grid

Here is the grid of post-its we used to change, update and edit the class.

So what is the moral of this story? Post-it notes are amazing and magic wands make everything easier. Also, “mountainbuilding” style brainstorming and welcoming change have been imperative to our course design process.