Online and flexible course development
Through harnessing digital technologies and a deeper understanding of students we design and deliver courses that meet students' needs and expectations to ensure they can succeed in the future.
Online and flexible learning requires a re-imagining of the assumptions that underlie established models of delivery. Through harnessing digital technologies and a deeper understanding of students we can design and deliver courses that meet students' needs wherever they are, increase the reach and impact of the University, and ensure all can succeed in a future where the ability to continually adapt and learn is required.
The following definitions establish a common language to ensure a consistent understanding and application of learning management and design:
- Digital broadly describes the use of computer technology, independent of, or integral to online environments.
- Learning is the acquisition of knowledge or skills through study, experience, or being taught.
- Face-to-face learning is where activities require learners and teachers to be located in the same physical environment.
- Online learning is where the internet is used as the primary method to deliver learning and assessment.
- Blended learning is a combination of any proportion of face-to-face and online learning activity, as part of a coherent course offer.
- Flexible learning offers a diverse range of students choices about when, where and how they learn, and how they pay for their course.
- Distance learning mostly comprises of online learning activities where the student does not have to attend the University campus.
A course can be broken down into component parts, with each able to be delivered at NTU fully online, fully face-to-face, or a ‘blend’ of both.
Conceptual learning can be delivered face-to-face through lectures, online through multimedia in NOW, or a ‘blend’ of both. Active learning could be delivered face-to-face through seminars, via online activities using discussion forums and other NOW tools or a ‘blend’ of both. Even support can be delivered online.
A course’s ‘blend’ is indicated by where it sits on the continuum for each of these elements. In modern face-to-face courses, many of these items are delivered online, usually, only the course’s blend of ‘contact’ hours is referenced.
Flexible learning is a student-centred approach to course design that builds a course around a set of student personas. This approach allows course teams to adjust variables such as pace, place, price, and mode; when in the week the students study, to how quickly they complete a course; how they pay, including pay per module; studying online, on campus, or in the workplace; and the balance between asynchronous and synchronous learning.
Digital technologies enable course teams to create learning opportunities for students that offer a greater range of student experience choices and enable pedagogic approaches that are not restricted by traditional constraints, offering opportunities for increased personalisation and inclusive practice.
The Institutional Approach
A full-service course development approach has been created by the Flex team in CADQ, based on a rapid prototyping model.
Each course development begins with an initial proposal meeting. Once approved, and supported by pre-learning activities, the course team attend a workshop that builds on the initial proposal to create the academic approval documents. A prototype is then created and tested with a small number of students, before final academic approval. Each module is then assigned a Learning Designer who works with the Module Leader to create the remaining Learning Room and content.
Each module is evaluated upon completion and updates are made in preparation for its next run. The assigned Learning Designer will ensure that the module is copied across to the live Learning Room each time the module runs.