Design considerations for open online taster courses

The following discusses a few ideas around the design and development of open online courses for the use of marketing and recruitment to face to face taught courses at UCS. These will be piloted with the BA SENDS programme in April / May.

The first question is why?

There are two reasons, firstly to help recruitment to the course. The idea being an individual can complete a short course (5 hours) which gives them two authenticate learning experiences inline with the learning and assessment model. This course would also steer the prospective student to how to find more information and start the registration process. Therefore, it will complement the existing model. Secondly, it will encourage the course team to engage with the Elevate Team and LIbrary Team to develop two “flipped classroom” online activities. This will act as a staff development opportunity, and to re-enforce the cross team development culture we are trying to encourage. Therefore, it should enhance the TEL agenda within curriculum design, without making it a “big scary exercise”

Remember our design principles

When developing these courses we need to ensure, where possible to include our Elevate Team design principles, the learning should be;

  1. active
  2. collaborative
  3. feedback / feedforward centric

How might it work and what are the key questions we’d like answered?

A good place to start would be to discuss the expected role of the course team once it is deployed. For instance, there are two models we might adopt.

  1. The course is designed with no planned interaction from the course team once deployed. It is more designed around the behavouralist and cognitive constructivist characteristics. So all front loaded in terms of effort, lots of multimedia and diagnostic quizzes. This model would allow us to create a course area on Blackboard, use the quiz tool for formative feedback.
  2. The alternative approach would be release the materials as a course, with set course dates allowing the course team to run synchronous (via Google Hangouts) and asynchronous activities. This will be more designed around a social constructivist model.

In my opinion, if this is about increasing the “stickiness” of potential students, through giving them an excellent learning opportunity to inform them if UCS is the place for them, then we should design an open course with set dates, ie., runs for two weeks, provide a certificate of attendance (mozilla badge).

This would give us an excellent opportunity to add value as they start to make connections with staff (and prospective students). The design would be very simple (and traditional);

  1. diagnostic quiz around some of the key issues covered within a module. This will include a few short answer questions. A nice approach would be to set this around a case study or problem. Given there are a few subjective questions being asked, the lecturer would be expected to read and comment on these.
  2. use some of the formative feedback exercises around literature reviews or within tutorials. This would be the basis of a flipped classroom model. Where they’d be some multimedia material or short piece of literature, followed up with a discussion board or blog exercise. The lecturer would be expected to manage this, and feedback. It would be suggest to divide this activity into small chunks to make it more accessible, and provide the appropriate scaffolding. There could be an opportunity to use final year students within the division to help facilitate this activity.
  3. get them to mark a piece of work. Provide a short piece of work, with a detailed mark scheme to encourage the student to mark a piece of work. The hints within the marking schemes will give them a sense of what is involved on the course.

What generic information might we include?

It would be useful to include a self-assessment survey around how they might use technology to enhance their learning. This could be based on the self assessment from the University of Exeter’s iTest.

This self-assessment will reveal a personalised profile spanning six different genres. So how to do you score in terms of being a digital dodger, a career builder, a digital guru, media mogul, information junkie or online networker?

This would add value to the individual, and help seed these ideas.



One comment

  1. Bob Ridge-Stearn (@BobRidgeStearn)

    Hi Andy, Do you think the students will get an authentic learning experience “inline with the learning and assessment model” if there is “no planned interaction from the course team”? I’m not sure what your model is, but am guessing it does involve tutor intervention.
    I very much like that your have the students marking pieces of work against a marking scheme, but I think you will have to set this up carefully. My experience is that some students do not see the value we see in this activity and think they are being short-changed. There also can be a resistance to marking other students’ work and to having other students mark their work. But as I say, I like it, just think the concept needs to be sold to the students.
    We too liked Exeter’s iTest but found it did not work with our students so adapted it. See I think that link allows you to see our Qs but if you want them in a different format (e.g. Word document) just let me know.
    All the best,

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