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What does good course design look like to you - Alex Wu, Blackboard

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What does good course design look like to you - Alex Wu, Blackboard

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Course design is undoubtedly a critical element of any online or blended learning environment. As academics and instructional designers, we often associate course design with teaching and learning outcomes that are course- and program-specific and are aligned specifically to graduate attributes or goals. In this session, we will instead take a deconstructive approach to analyse each of the main tool groups within Blackboard Learn and Collaborate, and showcase some unique tool deployment use-cases from clients around the globe. We will also touch on using the same tools in research and grant management to discuss how both teaching and research departments could cross benefit from using the same platform within an institution.

Course design is undoubtedly a critical element of any online or blended learning environment. As academics and instructional designers, we often associate course design with teaching and learning outcomes that are course- and program-specific and are aligned specifically to graduate attributes or goals. In this session, we will instead take a deconstructive approach to analyse each of the main tool groups within Blackboard Learn and Collaborate, and showcase some unique tool deployment use-cases from clients around the globe. We will also touch on using the same tools in research and grant management to discuss how both teaching and research departments could cross benefit from using the same platform within an institution.

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What does good course design look like to you - Alex Wu, Blackboard

  1. 1. Alex Wu Ph.D., Senior Consultant APAC Blackboard International Consulting Services What Does Good Course Design Look Like To You?
  2. 2. A Little Introduction BSc (Hons) UNSW, PhD Chemistry UNSW Grad Dip in Education (During PhD)
  3. 3. A Little Introduction BSc (Hons) UNSW, PhD Chemistry UNSW Grad Dip in Education (During PhD) Research Group Leader/Lecturer @ UniMelb
  4. 4. A Little Introduction BSc (Hons) UNSW, PhD Chemistry UNSW Grad Dip in Education (During PhD) Research Group Leader/Lecturer @ UniMelb Course coordinator for a start-up in GAMSAT Division Trainer and Officer of St John Ambulance Australia
  5. 5. 5 Areas of Expertise • Blackboard Consulting (Learn, Collaborate, Implementation) • Technical (Chem & Chem Eng) and Management Consulting • Value Chain and Root Cause Analysis • Project Management • Team Management
  6. 6. 2012
  7. 7. 2012
  8. 8. 2012 MY motivation in education
  9. 9. Session Outline 9 • What is “Good” Course Design? • Significance of Good Course Design – Students – Instructors – Support Staff • What does it look like? • Case Study: Research and Grant Management
  10. 10. What is “Good” Course Design? 10 • What is Course Design? • What is Good Course Design?
  11. 11. What is “Good” Course Design? 11 • What is Course Design? – Course goals and objectives • What is Good Course Design? – Course goals and objectives are written in measurable outcomes, and readily located and referenced.
  12. 12. What is “Good” Course Design? 12 • What is Course Design? – Course goals and objectives – Content placement • What is Good Course Design? – Course goals and objectives are written in measurable outcomes, and readily located and referenced. – Content is manageable, intuitive to navigate, flows logically, stimulating.
  13. 13. What is “Good” Course Design? 13 • What is Course Design? – Course goals and objectives – Content placement – Engage student thinking • What is Good Course Design? – Course goals and objectives are written in measurable outcomes, and readily located and referenced. – Content is manageable, intuitive to navigate, flows logically, stimulating. – Content that promotes higher level thinking, coupled with advanced learning activities.
  14. 14. What is “Good” Course Design? 14 • What is Course Design? – Course goals and objectives – Content placement – Engage student thinking – Technology-assisted learning • What is Good Course Design? – Course goals and objectives are written in measurable outcomes, and readily located and referenced. – Content is manageable, intuitive to navigate, flows logically, stimulating. – Content that promotes higher level thinking, coupled with advanced learning activities. – Incorporate technologies that reduce the labor-intensity of, or barrier to, learning.
  15. 15. Significance of Good Course Design – Student Learning Perspective 15 • Students – Encouraged and engaged – Focused on learning – Clear understanding of course outcomes, and expectations to achieve those – Rich content and communication tools available • Instructors – Focused on learning management, not course management – Identify and address at-risk students early – Ability to make meaningful incremental changes from one teaching session to the next
  16. 16. Significance of Good Course Design – Management Perspective 16 • Students – Consistent, intuitive navigation – Manageable content (Avoid information overload) – Critical information readily available • Instructors – Ease of support – Lower maintenance – Ease of management • Support Staff – Reduce support requests associated with course navigation – Reduce technical support requests in accessing course content – Greater efficiency due to consistency
  17. 17. Good Course Design – What Does it Look Like? 17 Which desk do you prefer?
  18. 18. Key Elements of Good Course Design 18 Course Overview & Introduction Learning Objectives Assessment & Measurement Instructional Materials Learner Interaction & Engagement Course Technology Exemplary Course
  19. 19. Key Element – Course Overview and Introduction 19 Course Overview & Introduction Learning Objectives Assessment & Measurement Instructional Materials Learner Interaction & Engagement Course Technology
  20. 20. Introduction - Setting the Landing Page 20
  21. 21. Introduction - Purpose and Structure 21
  22. 22. Introduction - Purpose and Structure 22
  23. 23. Introduction - Netiquette 23
  24. 24. Introduction – Technical Skills Expected, System Requirements 24 Examples of technical skills might include: 1. Using the learning management system 2. Using email with attachments 3. Creating and submitting files in commonly used word processing program formats 4. Copying and pasting 5. Downloading and installing software 6. Using spreadsheet programs Examples of system requirements include: 1. Ensuring to include within your content plan, the required browser/plugin requirements. 2. Peripheral device recommendations (headsets, webcams etc).
  25. 25. Introductions – Students and Instructor (Discussion Board) 25
  26. 26. Learning Objectives 26 Course Overview & Introduction Learning Objectives Assessment & Measurement Instructional Materials Learner Interaction & Engagement Course Technology
  27. 27. Goals and Objectives 27 Include as a minimum: • What students would gain from this course. • Describe student performance in specific terms. • The course objectives are measureable. • Align with course goals. • Competencies, skills, and knowledge • Learning expectations and outcomes on a weekly, modular, or unit basis.
  28. 28. Course Objectives 28 • Course objectives should be stated clearly
  29. 29. Assessments and Measurement 29 Course Overview & Introduction Learning Objectives Assessment & Measurement Instructional Materials Learner Interaction & Engagement Course Technology
  30. 30. Grading and Evaluation 30 • Transparent grading policy • Relationship between final letter grades (if applicable) with accumulated mark/percentages • Release rubrics along with assignments/assessments
  31. 31. Best Practice – Assessments Assess frequently. Vary assessments.
  32. 32. Course/Instructional Materials 32 Course Overview & Introduction Learning Objectives Assessment & Measurement Instructional Materials Learner Interaction & Engagement Course Technology
  33. 33. Relevance and Options 33 • Provide a clear, succinct outline for the instructional materials. • Provide both required and optional materials.
  34. 34. Learner Interaction and Engagement 34 Course Overview & Introduction Learning Objectives Assessment & Measurement Instructional Materials Learner Interaction & Engagement Course Technology
  35. 35. Engagement – Feedback & Collaboration 35 • Provide opportunities for frequent and meaningful feedback. • Establish an encouraging platform for collaboration.
  36. 36. Course Technology 36 Course Overview & Introduction Learning Objectives Assessment & Measurement Instructional Materials Learner Interaction & Engagement Course Technology
  37. 37. Incorporate Course Technology (Where appropriate!) 37 • Other course technologies such as: – Collaborate – Lecture recordings – SCORM packages – Etc.
  38. 38. Summary • Good course design allows students to focus, and instructors to manage, their learning. • Various elements of good course design is aimed at ensuring that students are encouraged and remain engaged with learning. • Assessments should be frequent but varied, and grading policies transparent. • Incorporating course technologies is highly recommended, but approach with a clear plan. • Ultimately, a well designed course should become an enabler for both the student and instructor in learning management. • Liberate and optimize time spent on continual improvements.
  39. 39. 39 Case Study: Research and Grant Management
  40. 40. Background – Early Career Research Group Leader/Lecturer (2011 – 2016) 2011 - 1 Honours by research student (undergraduate) - Research strategy in place - New ARC grant (480k AUD) - Research streams and projects undefined - Lectures: (4 hrs/week) - Upside: Plenty of time!
  41. 41. Challenges – Growing the Research Group • Research student recruitment – Laboratories and 30-second pitch – Research lab tours and informal interviews – Overall poor screening process and highly time-consuming
  42. 42. Challenges – Growing the Research Group • Research student recruitment – Laboratories and 30-second pitch – Research lab tours and informal interviews – Overall poor screening process and highly time-consuming • Approach: Establish a Blackboard research group site – Consistent navigation for prospective students – Familiar tools and features – Discussion board for communication – Formative assessments facilitate screening process
  43. 43. Challenges – Growing the Research Group • Research student recruitment – Laboratories and 30-second pitch – Research lab tours and informal interviews – Overall poor screening process and highly time-consuming • Approach: Establish a Blackboard research group site – Consistent navigation for prospective students – Familiar tools and features – Discussion board for communication – Formative assessments facilitate screening process • Further considerations – Leverage institution roles and self-enrolment options to target specific cohorts.
  44. 44. Background – Early/Mid-career Research Group Leader/Lecturer (2011 – 2016) 2015 - 10 full time postgraduate research students (5 Ph.D + 5 MSc) - 4 part-time undergraduate research students - Research strategy in place, streams, and projects established - Lectures and Laboratories (16 hrs/week) - Operating budget of $800k/year - Various grant compliance requirements
  45. 45. Background – Early/Mid-career Research Group Leader/Lecturer (2011 – 2016) 2015 - 10 full time postgraduate research students (5 Ph.D + 5 MSc) - 4 part-time undergraduate research students - Research strategy in place, streams, and projects established - Lectures and Laboratories (16 hrs/week) - Operating budget of $800k/year - Various grant compliance requirements
  46. 46. Research Academic Performance Metrics 46 • Key Metrics in Research: Quantitative – Quality Publication count (> 4 / year) – Grants and Awards – Overseas and internal collaborations Qualitative – Mentoring – Research student retention rate – Student output rate (publication count) – Average Research student graduation time (< 4 years PhD, 2 years Masters)
  47. 47. Challenges – Managing the Research Group • Generally time poor
  48. 48. Challenges – Managing the Research Group • Generally time poor • Mentoring is a REAL challenge
  49. 49. Challenges – Managing the Research Group • Generally time poor • Mentoring is a REAL challenge • Content overload (So much to say, so little time!)
  50. 50. Challenges – Managing the Research Group • Generally time poor • Mentoring is a REAL challenge • Content overload (So much to say, so little time!) • The miscommunication
  51. 51. Delegating Management • Generally time poor – Q: What could be managed better? A: Delegate supervision and management!
  52. 52. Delegating Management • Generally time poor – Q: What could be managed better? A: Delegate supervision and management! • Approach: Leveraged Groups tool in Learn – 3 research stream leaders, 3 groups – Assignment tool with unlimited attempts as formal weekly submissions of progress – Stream leaders (TA role) review and report group progress in fortnightly face to face meetings
  53. 53. Delegating Management • Generally time poor – Q: What could be managed better? A: Delegate supervision and management! • Approach: Leveraged Groups tool in Learn – 3 research stream leaders, 3 groups – Assignment tool with unlimited attempts as formal weekly submissions of progress – Stream leaders (TA role) review and report group progress in fortnightly face to face meetings • However… – Submission guidelines were not clear – Content overload! – Discouraging for stream leaders as the process was still time consuming (just not my time)
  54. 54. The Refined Approach • The solution: – Succinct guidelines for progress submission defined – Clear expectations were set: • 3-minute progress videos or audio • Maximum of 5 ppt slides (in pdf fomat) • Must include hypothesis/aim, data, analysis, conclusion, further work • Advantages: – Forces students to pro-actively think about their research and approach on a regular basis. – Reviewers (myself and stream leaders) can access progress videos and provide feedback readily. – All assignment attempts and associated presentations were readily available when needed (seminars, yearly reviews, manuscript preparations).
  55. 55. The Evolution • Generally time poor • Mentoring is a REAL challenge • Content overload (So much to say, so little time!) • The miscommunication • Wiki  Manuscript preparation – No more email versioning issues – Contributions are clear • Discussion Board  Inter-stream collaboration – Sharing of ideas – Chin-wagging • Bb Collaborate  Presentation rehearsals – Recordings available – Group meeting reviews
  56. 56. The Benefits • Difficult to measure overall success • Significant time-saving • Great learning experience for all students
  57. 57. The Benefits • Difficult to measure overall success • Significant time-saving • Great learning experience for all students • May have direct/indirectly led to: – 20 publications, one in Nature • From which 6 publications, including Nature, originated from discussion board collaborations and its preparation facilitated using wiki
  58. 58. The Benefits • Difficult to measure overall success • Significant time-saving • Great learning experience for all students • May have direct/indirectly led to: – 20 publications, one in Nature • From which 6 publications, including Nature, originated from discussion board collaborations and its preparation facilitated using wiki – 4 students were finalists in the annual 3-minute thesis competition – 5 students received best presentation awards at international conferences
  59. 59. The Benefits • Difficult to measure overall success • Significant time-saving • Great learning experience for all students • May have direct/indirectly led to: – 20 publications, one in Nature • From which 6 publications, including Nature, originated from discussion board collaborations and its preparation facilitated using wiki – 4 students were finalists in the annual 3-minute thesis competition – 5 students received best presentation awards at international conferences – 2 students received University medals for postgraduate research distinction – 8/10 students graduated with First Class Honours or with Distinction
  60. 60. Summary • Great course design elements can permeate beyond conventional undergraduate and postgraduate programs. • In order to achieve that, we need invest time in improving course design to the point where as educators and facilitators, we can begin pro-actively manage our students’ learning experiences. • Well designed courses affords both students and instructors the time to embrace collaboration, from which innovation is born.

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