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Learning Design at a Distance:
Development of a Goal-based
Model for Program-level Learning
Design.
Mitchell Parkes, Steven Warburton, Sarah Thorneycroft
Education Futures, University of New England, NSW, Australia
ISSOTL 2021
26th to 29th October
Sustainable Education through SOTL:
Practices and Culture
Our Context
• The University of New England (UNE) is a public university in Australia with approximately
22,500 higher education students. Its original and main campus is located in the city of
Armidale in northern central New South Wales. The northern campus is five kilometres to
the northwest of the city centre, in a rural and bushland setting. UNE also has a presence in
Sydney and other sites throughout rural NSW.
• The University of New England (UNE) was the first university in Australia to be established
outside of a capital city and became an autonomous, degree-granting institution in 1954.
• The location of UNE, away from large urban centres of population, means that much of our
university’s teaching is delivered externally. Since its inception, UNE has remained one of
Australia’s largest providers of distance education.
• Approximately 85% of our students study off campus.
Our Main Campus
Thursday 14th October 2021
Background to Curriculum Renewal
• The academic transformation programme presents an ambitious plan
for cross institution collaboration that is designed to ensure the
university meets the current and future needs of its diverse student
community in a changeable and challenging tertiary education
setting. It is sensitive to individual Faculty needs, works with partners
across the professional service areas and, builds on previous work in
this domain as appropriate.
(Academic Transformation Programme 2020 – Overview)
The Course Blueprint
Note:
For generic degrees (e.g., BSc and BA), it is recommended this template be used at an overview level (e.g., for the BSc generally) and again in more detail for majors (e.g., BSc in Botany), ensuring outcomes at the course
level are included among the major’s outcomes.
Course Title [Course title or proposed title]
School(s) [School(s) or directorate]
Prepared by [Name, position]
Peer reviewed by [Name(s), position(s)]
Context & Need Please provide the context as to why the course is needed (up to 500 words, can include attachments of evidence)
- What is the need (e.g., if a new course: attach market analysis, a bibliography of literature or other evidence to support the case; e.g., if existing course: attach reviews/reports from evaluations, attrition data, pedagogical evidence for a change)
- What is the business case (is it economically justified, will it meet UNE strategic objectives, etc)
Student profiles
(Known or anticipated)
- Who are our students? (e.g., out of school, older working, mix of…)
- How will they access learning? (e.g., distance, on campus, blended)
- What will they be hoping to achieve (e.g., career aspirations, professional registrations, develop creativity, critical thinking, flexibility for multiple careers)
- Please detail where you sourced student profile data (i.e. Callista, MAPA, etc)
Course Goals Given the context above, how will this course (as a whole) meet the identified need(s) for the course and students? These goals should take into consideration:
 A clear design-narrative which identifies target student needs, supports student success and course sustainability
 High-level learning outcomes
 Embed indigenous ways of knowing and learning
 Majors and minors (or equivalent)
 Foundation and advanced level units
 Nested exit pathways
 Limit prerequisites
Goal Need addressed How will it be achieved?
Min 3. (e.g., 1. a quality rural medicine course accessible to students from rural
communities)
These need to come from ‘context and need’ and should not be new. (e.g., gap in market for quality rural medicine
training delivered in a rural setting as identified above; concern for low numbers of rural students entering medicine
as identified by AMA)
At the course level and beyond. If achievement requires additional resources beyond the course, please discuss in ‘recommended
additional supports.’ (e.g. 1.1 creation of a course with evidence-based pedagogy; 1.2 creation of course in a rural setting [Armidale
campus]; 1.3 Include content that is contextual and accessible to the experiences of rural students)
The ‘Co-Vid Moment’
• With Co-Vid, the campus was closed, and all staff had to work from
home. Consequently, the planned face-to-face Curriculum Renewal
workshops were not possible.
• Because of our background as online learning designers, we decided
to deliver the Curriculum Renewal workshops fully online as an
opportunity to do some of our own clever learning design.
• Essentially, we built and delivered an online course around the
Curriculum Renewal process.
• This also allowed us to leverage the affordance of online delivery
to our advantage. Plus do a little SoTL-based 'sneaky teaching'.
Integrating SoTL into the Process
Curriculum
Renewal
Academic
Development
SoTL
The Revised Plan
• All the required process that were to have been completed in the series
of face-to-face workshops were broken down into a series of goals.
• Each goal had a measurable and observable (learning) outcome.
• Instead of trying to work each course team through the process in a
lock-step fashion, we applied principals of self-regulated learning
allowing each course team to develop their own timelines and allocate
the various tasks across the various members of the course team.
• Rather than a linear process, course teams could work on multiple
goals simultaneously thereby speeding up the process in what were
already constricted timelines due to co-vid.
• Also, goals could be allocated based on team member experience and
availability.
• Resources could also be better managed and allocated to team
members when required.
A sample of the ‘curriculum’
Milestone Dates
To help ensure timelines were maintained a series of milestone (due by) dates were established
Academic Development + Curriculum Renewal
To assist staff in the curriculum renewal process a website with academic development resources was developed
Academic Development + Curriculum Renewal
To assist staff in the curriculum renewal process a website with academic development resources was developed
Evaluation
• The primary goal of the evaluation was to inform the
adaptation of Curriculum Renewal for the next phase.
A secondary goal is to inform future approaches to
strategic projects more generally.
• Our evaluation approach involved the collation and
curation of data from various domains, then
synthesising a set of actions and principles from the
data to inform the development of the next phase.
• Evaluation in this context is necessarily light
touch, prioritising meaning and value to serve project
agility in a volatile environment, rather than a lengthy
formal process.
Refined Model
Goal Activity
Goal 1 Undertake Course Reconnaissance and Analysis
Goal 2 Identify Context & Need and Course Goals
Goal 3 Define Course Learning Outcomes
Goal 4 Review Graduate Attributes
Goal 5 Define Course Structure
Goal 6 Identify Pedagogical approach
Goal 7 Outline Learning environment
Goal 8 Identify Assessment Approach
Goal 9 Identify course-level learning activities and resources
Goal 10 Identify teaching workforce considerations
Goal 11 Recommend additional supports
Goal 12 Identify risks and Regulatory/Legal environment
Conclusions
To conclude, approaching Course Design in this way has several advantages:
• First, it allows Course Teams to work to their own timetables. In doing so, Teams that
can move through the course design process reasonably quickly can do so, while
others requiring varying degrees of scaffolding and support can be catered for.
• Second, this helps with resourcing and support - these can be better targeted to
those who need it.
• Third, Course Teams can work out the processes that allow them to best meet the
intended goals. For each goal, teams can determine who will be responsible for, and
who will be involved in, achieving this goal and identifying the support required to
achieve it.
• Finally, instead of being a sequential process, course design can now be multi-tasked
so several goals can be worked on at the one time within a Course Team.

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Learning Design at a Distance ISSOTL 2021

  • 1. Learning Design at a Distance: Development of a Goal-based Model for Program-level Learning Design. Mitchell Parkes, Steven Warburton, Sarah Thorneycroft Education Futures, University of New England, NSW, Australia ISSOTL 2021 26th to 29th October Sustainable Education through SOTL: Practices and Culture
  • 2. Our Context • The University of New England (UNE) is a public university in Australia with approximately 22,500 higher education students. Its original and main campus is located in the city of Armidale in northern central New South Wales. The northern campus is five kilometres to the northwest of the city centre, in a rural and bushland setting. UNE also has a presence in Sydney and other sites throughout rural NSW. • The University of New England (UNE) was the first university in Australia to be established outside of a capital city and became an autonomous, degree-granting institution in 1954. • The location of UNE, away from large urban centres of population, means that much of our university’s teaching is delivered externally. Since its inception, UNE has remained one of Australia’s largest providers of distance education. • Approximately 85% of our students study off campus.
  • 5. Background to Curriculum Renewal • The academic transformation programme presents an ambitious plan for cross institution collaboration that is designed to ensure the university meets the current and future needs of its diverse student community in a changeable and challenging tertiary education setting. It is sensitive to individual Faculty needs, works with partners across the professional service areas and, builds on previous work in this domain as appropriate. (Academic Transformation Programme 2020 – Overview)
  • 6. The Course Blueprint Note: For generic degrees (e.g., BSc and BA), it is recommended this template be used at an overview level (e.g., for the BSc generally) and again in more detail for majors (e.g., BSc in Botany), ensuring outcomes at the course level are included among the major’s outcomes. Course Title [Course title or proposed title] School(s) [School(s) or directorate] Prepared by [Name, position] Peer reviewed by [Name(s), position(s)] Context & Need Please provide the context as to why the course is needed (up to 500 words, can include attachments of evidence) - What is the need (e.g., if a new course: attach market analysis, a bibliography of literature or other evidence to support the case; e.g., if existing course: attach reviews/reports from evaluations, attrition data, pedagogical evidence for a change) - What is the business case (is it economically justified, will it meet UNE strategic objectives, etc) Student profiles (Known or anticipated) - Who are our students? (e.g., out of school, older working, mix of…) - How will they access learning? (e.g., distance, on campus, blended) - What will they be hoping to achieve (e.g., career aspirations, professional registrations, develop creativity, critical thinking, flexibility for multiple careers) - Please detail where you sourced student profile data (i.e. Callista, MAPA, etc) Course Goals Given the context above, how will this course (as a whole) meet the identified need(s) for the course and students? These goals should take into consideration:  A clear design-narrative which identifies target student needs, supports student success and course sustainability  High-level learning outcomes  Embed indigenous ways of knowing and learning  Majors and minors (or equivalent)  Foundation and advanced level units  Nested exit pathways  Limit prerequisites Goal Need addressed How will it be achieved? Min 3. (e.g., 1. a quality rural medicine course accessible to students from rural communities) These need to come from ‘context and need’ and should not be new. (e.g., gap in market for quality rural medicine training delivered in a rural setting as identified above; concern for low numbers of rural students entering medicine as identified by AMA) At the course level and beyond. If achievement requires additional resources beyond the course, please discuss in ‘recommended additional supports.’ (e.g. 1.1 creation of a course with evidence-based pedagogy; 1.2 creation of course in a rural setting [Armidale campus]; 1.3 Include content that is contextual and accessible to the experiences of rural students)
  • 7. The ‘Co-Vid Moment’ • With Co-Vid, the campus was closed, and all staff had to work from home. Consequently, the planned face-to-face Curriculum Renewal workshops were not possible. • Because of our background as online learning designers, we decided to deliver the Curriculum Renewal workshops fully online as an opportunity to do some of our own clever learning design. • Essentially, we built and delivered an online course around the Curriculum Renewal process. • This also allowed us to leverage the affordance of online delivery to our advantage. Plus do a little SoTL-based 'sneaky teaching'.
  • 8. Integrating SoTL into the Process Curriculum Renewal Academic Development SoTL
  • 9. The Revised Plan • All the required process that were to have been completed in the series of face-to-face workshops were broken down into a series of goals. • Each goal had a measurable and observable (learning) outcome. • Instead of trying to work each course team through the process in a lock-step fashion, we applied principals of self-regulated learning allowing each course team to develop their own timelines and allocate the various tasks across the various members of the course team. • Rather than a linear process, course teams could work on multiple goals simultaneously thereby speeding up the process in what were already constricted timelines due to co-vid. • Also, goals could be allocated based on team member experience and availability. • Resources could also be better managed and allocated to team members when required.
  • 10. A sample of the ‘curriculum’
  • 11. Milestone Dates To help ensure timelines were maintained a series of milestone (due by) dates were established
  • 12. Academic Development + Curriculum Renewal To assist staff in the curriculum renewal process a website with academic development resources was developed
  • 13. Academic Development + Curriculum Renewal To assist staff in the curriculum renewal process a website with academic development resources was developed
  • 14. Evaluation • The primary goal of the evaluation was to inform the adaptation of Curriculum Renewal for the next phase. A secondary goal is to inform future approaches to strategic projects more generally. • Our evaluation approach involved the collation and curation of data from various domains, then synthesising a set of actions and principles from the data to inform the development of the next phase. • Evaluation in this context is necessarily light touch, prioritising meaning and value to serve project agility in a volatile environment, rather than a lengthy formal process.
  • 15. Refined Model Goal Activity Goal 1 Undertake Course Reconnaissance and Analysis Goal 2 Identify Context & Need and Course Goals Goal 3 Define Course Learning Outcomes Goal 4 Review Graduate Attributes Goal 5 Define Course Structure Goal 6 Identify Pedagogical approach Goal 7 Outline Learning environment Goal 8 Identify Assessment Approach Goal 9 Identify course-level learning activities and resources Goal 10 Identify teaching workforce considerations Goal 11 Recommend additional supports Goal 12 Identify risks and Regulatory/Legal environment
  • 16. Conclusions To conclude, approaching Course Design in this way has several advantages: • First, it allows Course Teams to work to their own timetables. In doing so, Teams that can move through the course design process reasonably quickly can do so, while others requiring varying degrees of scaffolding and support can be catered for. • Second, this helps with resourcing and support - these can be better targeted to those who need it. • Third, Course Teams can work out the processes that allow them to best meet the intended goals. For each goal, teams can determine who will be responsible for, and who will be involved in, achieving this goal and identifying the support required to achieve it. • Finally, instead of being a sequential process, course design can now be multi-tasked so several goals can be worked on at the one time within a Course Team.