Pragmatic approach to learning materials
An important yardstick by which any innovation may be judged is that of uptake by users. In the context of teaching and learning, innovative approaches do not necessarily need to involve a high level of technology. Indeed, there are robust arguments that support the use of tried and tested approaches and tools that are used in novel ways. Staff hesitancy to innovate may be alleviated if they do not need to be continually retrained (e.g. in the use of new software). An approach that is being adopted successfully at The University of Newcastle is the use of a customised Microsoft Word template as a course-authoring environment, which is distributed to students as PDF files via Blackboard or CD. This paper explores the challenges presented by this approach and contrasts these with the benefits that accrue. It provides evaluation of stage one of the University of Newcastle’s Course Template pilot project, and discussion of the current work in progress on stage two of the project.
Keywords: templates, innovative teaching and learning approaches, learning design, case-studies, problem-based learning