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The Courseware Design and Development Program enables academics to participate in a program that integrates a major curriculum development project along with professional development. In its short history, the Courseware Design and Development Program has demonstrated itself to be a sustainable model. It is a model that fulfils a role of encouraging innovation in teaching and learning using technology. The integration of professional development and project development seems to appeal to otherwise busy academics as there are concrete goals and positive outcomes.
In 2002, the TALMET Committee's funding of projects was severely curtailed, and multimedia funding was encouraged to become 'normalised' within faculties. This also raised the question: How could innovative and exemplary uses of technology in teaching still be encouraged when the previous mechanism for that encouragement (the TALMET grants) was being phased out? In answering this question, the Teaching, Learning and Research Support Department saw the opportunity to establish a replacement grant scheme that incorporated an integrated professional development scheme for academics involved in the design of technologically enhanced coursework.
In 2003, with supplementary funds from the university's Planning and Budget Committee, the Teaching, Learning and Research Support Department (TeLaRS) established the Courseware Design and Development Program (CDDP) to continue university-wide support of major curriculum transformation projects and to incorporate additional professional development in the program.
The Australian Vice-Chancellors' Committee (1993) in its Guidelines for Effective University Teaching notes that university teachers need to exhibit personal growth and self evaluation in their own professional activities, including teaching: "As university teachers, staff need to acquire and develop knowledge and understanding of a wide range of teaching and assessment methods and of the principles which underlie student learning." How can lecturers develop an understanding of a wide range of teaching methods and principles of learning given the added pressures of research, publishing and administration?
The AVCC's guidelines also note that heads of department have an obligation to "encourage the collaborative development of courses and subjects, and investigations of innovative ways of teaching and assessing, by making available time and resources of individuals and teams". (Australian Vice-Chancellors' Committee, 1993)
The Courseware Design and Development Program attempts to fill this need by providing a collaborative development environment where academics can learn about teaching with technology. For the academics, this is very much a "learn by doing" approach. As Nichani has noted: "There is a well known fact that the people who learn the most in an e-learning design process are the instructional designers or the learning designers themselves! Why? Because they spend most of the design phase trying to make sense of the messy information they collected earlier...." (Nichani, 2004). In the Courseware Design and Development Program, the subject lecturer shares the responsibility in creating the learning design with the educational designer from TeLaRS. As the courseware is co-designed with and by the academics they are able to be in the position of learning about their subject in different ways, and exploring new aspects of teaching and learning. One positive by-product is that a number of the grant recipients who have worked with TeLaRS have since been recognised for their teaching excellence through university awards and the like.
Another aim of the program is that academic participants also become part of the community of practice of practitioners using online and multimedia to enhance teaching and learning across the whole university (See Lave & Wenger, 1991). Lecturing staff have made contact with other academic staff from quite different disciplines, as reported in CDDP professional development session feedback surveys.
There are two 'intakes' to the program each year, with projects beginning at the start of each semester. Each project proceeds over an eighteen month period in three broad phases, each lasting about a semester:
Round 2, 2003 received much wider publicity. A Concept Development professional development session was held for 13 participants. Nine expressions of interest were received in late March. They were from Medicine (3), Law (2), Education (2), Science (1), and the Arts Faculty (1). They were evaluated in consultation with faculty multimedia coordinators and six proposals were invited to proceed to the 'Full Application' stage - Medicine (1), Law (2), Education (2), and Arts(1). The invited applicants consulted with CDS educational design staff to elicit more learning design details and to help estimate costs for the proposals. Full applications were submitted and they were evaluated in consultation with faculty multimedia coordinators. Four were selected to proceed (Medicine, Law, Education, and Arts). A second Law project was selected as a DVD video project, subject to supplementary funding from the faculty. A professional development session on Project Processes took place and 13 people attended. Attendees included one multimedia coordinator, several learning resources staff and the program participants (academics). The four new projects began at the start of Semester 2, 2003.
The Round 1, 2004 application process included a professional session on Concept Development to support the 'Expression of Interest' stage - 15 people attended. Thirteen 'Expressions of Interest' were then lodged, of which 10 proceeded to the full application stage. They were from Arts, Economics & Commerce, Education, Engineering, Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences (MDHS), Science, and Veterinary Science. Six were selected to begin their projects in Semester 1, 2004, and one selected to begin in Semester 2, 2004. A Project Processes professional development session was held in February 2004, with eight people attending.
Round 2, 2004 included a Concept Development professional development session with 14 people attending. Ten 'Expressions of Interest' were received in April. They were from Arts (2), Economics & Commerce (1), the Institute of Land and Food Resources - ILFR (1), MDHS (5), and Science (1). These were evaluated in consultation with faculty multimedia coordinators and six proposals were invited to proceed to the 'Full Application' stage - Arts, Economics & Commerce, ILFR, MDHS (2), and Science. The invited applicants consulted with CDS educational design staff on the details and costs of the proposals. Full applications were submitted and evaluated in consultation with faculty multimedia coordinators. Five were selected from Arts, Economics & Commerce, ILFR, Medicine, and Science. A professional development session on Project Processes took place in June for Round 2 participants, with seven people attending. Four new projects and one previously selected project began at the start of Semester 2, 2004. One new project will begin in Semester 1, 2005.
Table 1 provides a listing of successful projects for Round 1-2004 as an indicative guide to the nature of the projects undertaken.
|Virtual veterinary cardiorespiratory medicine (VVCRM)||Dr Russell W Mitten, Dr Steven A Holloway||Veterinary Science||Veterinary Science||$32,050|
|Using multimedia experiences to internationalise the Masters of Human Resource Management||Professor Carol Kulik, Catherine Maguire||Management||Economics and Commerce||$30,250|
|E-learning in practical classes||Arianne Dantas, Sophie Ping||Physiology||Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences||$30,250|
|Holistic Aboriginal health practice: Multimedia problem based learning - towards a partnership approach||Dr William Genat, Shaun Ewen||Public Health||Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences||$30,000|
|Multimedia student education support tools in engineering analysis||Dr Marcus Brazil, Assoc Prof Doreen Thomas||Electrical and Electronic Engineering||Engineering||$31,350|
|Cultural diversity and early childhood learning environments||Assoc Prof Glenda MacNaughton||Learning and Educational Development||Education||$30,000|
|Understanding dilutions: A vital skill for the biological sciences||Dr Jane Ward||Pharmacology||Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences||$30,000|
An important part of the design of the program is to incorporate two intakes per year. It is designed to create two 'cohorts' of academics beginning their projects at the start of semester 1 and semester 2 respectively. This affords the opportunity to run professional development sessions that assist academics with the development of their ideas, project orientation, with the added benefit of coming together from across the university to network and gain mutual support.
The introduction of the new program in 2003 meant that publicity and consultation for Round 1-2003 was truncated and some faculties were not able to lodge a submission. The result was that only 3 projects were selected in the first round.
Publicity for Round 2-2003 was undertaken via an Internet website, via email publicity and through consultation with faculty multimedia coordinators. As a result of consultation, the dates and deadlines lines for Round 2-2003 applications were synchronised much more appropriately with faculty and departmental calendars. This resulted in an improved application rate.
The selection rounds in 2004 seemed to normalise into a pattern of about 12 expressions of interest with around 6 projects selected. Some of the applications were withdrawn during the application process and others were not selected - mainly due to the strength of field.
A significant proportion of the applications have been from the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry, and Health Sciences Faculty (eg. 5 MDHS from 10 total in Round 2-2004). This has required careful consultation with the faculty's Biomedical Multimedia Unit, Online Learning Unit, and Multimedia Coordinator to ensure CDS works with these other units in a complementary manner. Some project ideas solicited through the CDDP scheme have been taken up by the faculty units, while others have been served through the CDDP.
The Educational Design Group of CDS considered the desirability and impact of the two stage application process and found that, although there was quite an administrative workload in the two stage model, the model does have some advantages over simpler models or a 'service level agreement' approach:
It is important to acknowledge that 2003 represented the phasing in of the CDDP scheme. The complete CDS project portfolio consists of: Projects initiated under the previous TALMET funding model that are tailing off ('legacy' projects); Melbourne-Monash Grant projects that are still being administered by the TaLMET committee; CDDP projects; Projects that are fully charged. Fully charged projects could be financed from grant funds that academics have been able to secure from external funding bodies or from internal sources such as the Arts IT Committee grant scheme. Academics need to feel that there is a source of expertise on campus that is available to them to work on projects should they receive grant funds. This can act as an incentive to apply for external grants.
The proportion of CDDP projects has increased over time as 'legacy' projects have been completed and new CDDP projects have been taken on. However there will always be a proportion of projects that are fully charged in order to service those academics who have been successful in obtaining external grants.
Through two application rounds in 2004, a total of twelve projects have been selected. Six of these commenced in semester 1 2004 and five will commence in semester 2, with one being deferred until semester 1, 2005. The twelve projects are from eight different faculties and CDS has contributed, or will contribute, staff time to the value of $365,150 (Estimated).
As noted above, the professional development consists of: An initial Concept Development session to support the 'Expression of Interest' stage; the 'Full Application' process is supported by individual consultation with CDS staff; a Project Processes session prepares participants for the project itself; academics receive ongoing professional development as a part of the natural progression of the project.
Through feedback surveys collected after each session, the Concept Development and Project Processes sessions have been deemed very successful. The participants have been very positive about the sessions, and the attendance has been very good given the extreme time demands placed on academics. The participants' feedback comments from the surveys are overwhelmingly positive and appreciative. As some of the comments show, our aim of encouraging networking seems to be working too:
I thought the session was very useful as a way of beginning a new network of people working with online courseware and design. I have already made contact with someone from the group, and felt comfortable doing so because I had met the person. I think this network will be a good resource for the future.Individual consultations that support the 'Full Application' stage have been successful in eliciting strong project ideas and more realistic budgets when compared with the TALMET funded projects.
I also thought the session achieved bringing to the fore a sense of partnership between our team and CDS which is great...it makes the project exciting knowing we will be working with very experienced experts.
It was very helpful and I think having the other projects discussed helps broaden the scope. It is often so that exposure to different things leads to a new way of approaching your own problems. The main benefit though is to focus on setting milestones and not letting things go "off the burner". This is the death of many good intentions I find. It actually is an act of will sometimes to make sure milestones are kept. Having the process defined therefore is really important so that progress can be monitored and analysed. Specifics such as SRS, IP etc can then be treated as individual hurdles to jump before getting carried away with what you want to put in your teaching for example.
A further endorsement of the program was provided by the university's Centre for Studies in Higher Education (CSHE). In 2004, the CSHE introduced a Graduate Certificate in Higher Education for academic staff and one component of the course is a curriculum project. The Centre has made an in principle endorsement that an academic can credit aspects of their CDDP project to the project of the Graduate Certificate.
|Architecture, Building & Planning||0||0||0|
|Economics & Commerce||2||2||2|
|Medicine, Dentistry & Health Sciences||13||6||5|
|School of Graduate Studies||1||1||1|
As Table 2 shows, all faculties except Music and Architecture are working closely with CDS through the program already. Architecture is committed to sponsoring projects in future rounds. The Faculty of Music has not engaged with the program to date. They are a smaller faculty with face to face teaching as their priority. One particular faculty has requested a tailored workshop targeting their staff to assist with their preparation of project ideas and CDDP applications. It would seem that competition between faculties for places is leading to new initiatives and closer working relations.
The process of considering applications is not straightforward. A number of factors are taken into consideration, including:
The 'left in the cupboard' syndrome that sometimes plagues technology innovation is not evident in the CDDP grant scheme, as funding is only allocated to self identified academics: with a project in mind, who can demonstrate departmental support, and are committed to integrating the resources into their teaching. Word of mouth has been a powerful mode of communicating the value of the program. Successful project leaders showcase their finished products and strategies at the annual METTLE (internal University of Melbourne) conference. Applications are submitted with previous experience of the CDDP being nominated as a motivating factor. This can be seen in the higher numbers of applications from Law, Vet Science, and Economics and Commerce. With additional iterations of the program special attention will be given to support applications from departments without a track record of success in TALMET or CDDP grant applications. For example the Round 1 application for 2005 has elicited an application from the relatively small Faculty of Music.
The close working relationship with the faculty based multimedia coordinators also ensures that strategic directions for faculties and schools are addressed. High numbers of applications from large, well resourced faculties are discussed with the multimedia coordinators and prioritised according to their recommendations. In the case of Medicine for example, this has meant that significant developments of strategic importance (for example specialist continuing professional development for rural and regional health workers) are undertaken by the faculty based Biomedical Multimedia Unit (BMU), while smaller projects are picked up by the CDDP.
Overall there is increasing reliance by faculties on the CDDP grants for the development of resources and environments that support continuing professional education, rather than undergraduate course support.
In its short history, the Courseware Design and Development Program has demonstrated itself to be a sustainable model. It is a model that fulfils a role of encouraging innovation in teaching and learning using technology. Integrated professional development and project development seems to appeal to otherwise busy academics as there are concrete goals and outcomes. Previous attempts at stand alone professional development sessions in the use of technology in teaching have met with poor attendances. The CDDP sessions are comparatively well attended and the Educational Design Group is already finding that the sophistication of the knowledge of the attendees is increasing.
Looking to the future, two of the key challenges for the CDDP are:
Lave, J. & Wenger E. (1991). Situated Learning - legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Nichani, M. (2004). How to use weblogs to create engaging learning experiences. [28 July 2004] http://learnscope.flexiblelearning.net.au/learnscope/golearn.asp?category=12&DocumentId=5723
Wilson, G. & Stacey E. (2004). Online interaction impacts on learning: Teaching the teachers to teach online. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 20(1), 33-48. http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet20/wilson.html
|Authors: David Hirst, Claire Brooks & Matthew Riddle, Department of Teaching, Learning and Research Support, University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC 3010|
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Please cite as: Hirst, D., Brooks, C. & Riddle, M. (2004). Courseware design and development program: Providing professional development and project experience. In R. Atkinson, C. McBeath, D. Jonas-Dwyer & R. Phillips (Eds), Beyond the comfort zone: Proceedings of the 21st ASCILITE Conference (pp. 387-394). Perth, 5-8 December. http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/perth04/procs/hirst.html
© 2004 David Hirst, Claire Brooks & Matthew Riddle
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