Mini Workshop Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia 2015

Curriculum first / not technology: Facilitating the design of blended and online units with teaching teams (#102)

Stephen Linquist 1 , Rachael Phegan 1
  1. University of Tasmania, Newnham, TAS, Australia

Abstract Content (up to 300 words recommended)

 Curriculum design and pedagogy are arguably disconnected in the context of online teaching. As educational developers entrusted to support academics in online teaching, most of our work initially falls within the pedagogy sphere. Curriculum related decisions such as aligning assessment methods with course learning outcomes and gradate context are crucial for informing the role technology can play in a unit. Supporting teaching teams to grapple with these curriculum related considerations, has been a focus of ours over the past year.     

We will showcase a sequence of activities aimed at assisting teaching teams to develop a learning design for a blended or online unit. The activities are based on the concept of constructive alignment (Biggs & Tang, 2007), whereby participants produce a learning design that clearly articulates the sequence and alignment of all outcomes, assessments, learning activities and instruction. Despite not being advertised, demand for these sessions has steadily increased over the past six months through word of mouth among academics.

This workshop is primarily intended for persons entrusted with the task of facilitating the planning and design of online and blended units (e.g. Unit Coordinators, Educational Developers). Participants will work in pseudo teaching teams in order to construct a sequenced and constructively aligned learning design. Each team will conduct a guided self-evaluation of their design in order to determine its readiness for delivery as a blended or online unit. All participants will receive the suite of planning templates, evaluative tools and informational resources used in this workshop. 

Addressing the theme/s of the Conference (up to 200 words recommended)

This workshop will guide participants through a process that they can use (and adapt) to facilitate teaching teams to create and self-review learning designs for proposed online and blended units.  It addresses the conference sub theme ‘Exploiting emerging technologies to enable employability’ through a focus on ensuring use of technology is informed by the desired attributes of the graduate. 

The unit sequence template (that participants will use to create a learning design) enables teachers to collaboratively problem solve issues regarding efficiency and flexibility in the design of their blended and online units. This is particularly relevant to units where there is use of non-traditional modes of delivery such as workplace assessment and in those where there is an interdisciplinary focus. 

We contend that the production of learning designs which can be viewed on a single screen enable greater opportunity for feedback via peers and through quality assurance processes. For example, at our home institution new unit proposals are currently assessed via a unit outline (syllabus) where independent descriptions of learning outcomes, assessment tasks, learning activities and instruction feature. Consequently, there is limited capacity to evaluate unit designs in terms of their alignment, sequencing and readiness for online and/or blended delivery. 

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