Designing an exceptional student experience
QUT Online’s postgraduate courses are designed by a team of expert Learning Designers who collaborate with academics to create course material. We caught up with Senior Learning Designer, Tegan, to learn more about the innovative methods used to create an exceptional student experience.
How have QUT Online’s courses been solely designed for online study?
We work with the on-campus academics to transfer units to online. It’s important to understand that ‘online learning’ doesn’t just mean duplicating lectures and tutorials online. We go through a process of transforming the on-campus learning to create the best possible experience for online learners. It’s been really effective and has fostered a great collaborative relationship with our academics.
We’ve done some really interesting work, especially in the Digital Communication school, where we’ve built the online version of units first, then transferred that version back to QUT to use in face-to-face on-campus delivery.
We create an a-synchronous self-paced experience that allows the learner a lot of flexibility. We know that our QUT Online postgrad students are busy, and study time is precious. That’s why we design the learning to fit into students’ lives, rather than having to fit your life around the learning. Our units are designed so that students can study on the go, picking up their learning and stopping whenever they need to.
What’s been great in the past few months is hearing from our on-campus academics about how they’ve drawn on the work they did with us in facing the challenge of getting their units online due to COVID. Many have told us that as they moved their classes online that they thought back to their conversations with the Learning Designers to try to create a better learning experience for their students. We’ve also had many academics take the elements we’ve built for online and use them in their face-to-face delivery.
What makes effective learning design?
I would say effective learning design is learning design that creates a seamless self-driven experience for the learner. We aim to use technology in a way that creates a rigorous learning experience, while also removing any technology barriers.
I also think authenticity makes effective learning design. We really try to make sure that every assignment, every activity and every learning experience is grounded in real world application – how will students use these skills/knowledge in the real world? We know our QUT Online students are mostly mature-age professionals, already working in the field they are studying in. We try to use this to enhance their learning by making sure that we create opportunities for students to draw on their own experiences in discussions and collaborates, and let them use real world examples from their current workplaces in their assignments. This emphasis we put on connecting theory to practice makes for an effective, authentic learning experience.
What are some of the innovative methods that QUT Online’s learning designers use to keep students engaged with their studies?
QUT Online has had some great opportunities to work with new technologies and software. We’re doing some very exciting things with the Kaltura video platform – creating interactive videos that have questions and branching scenarios. We’re also very excited about the work we’ve been able to do with the DLS (Digital Learning Specialists) team, especially in things like creating in-depth scenarios and case studies to help students immerse themselves in the unit’s content.
For example, in a recent Gerontology unit, we built a detailed scenario based on a fictional patient (Jude) and her journey through the healthcare system as she aged. Throughout the unit students encountered Jude at various points in her journey, and were able to access digital health records, hospital files, x-rays, health assessments, etc., all of which were created by industry professionals and were completely authentic. This really brought the learning to life and helped them apply what they were learning in the unit to a ‘real’ person.
We would like to sincerely thank Tegan for her time and expertise. If you are interested in learning more about studying online with QUT, you can read about it on our website, or reach out to our Course Consultants for further information.