The DIY symposium has been a collaborative effort between FLI and LTS to enable course teams not able to gain a Course Symposium Grant to still gain a head start in developing their own BFL strategy. The creators of this page are: Carole Hunter, William Adlong, Lincoln Gill, Linda Ward, Rebecca Acheson, Harriet Ridolfo, David Prescott, Catherine Newell and Jill Harris.

Note to Curriculum Renewal Group: Our working pages are now located here. If you can't access, it's probably because you haven't become a member of the wiki yet. Sign up, let me know and I'll add you to that project page.

external image forn1326l.jpgWhat is a DIY symposium?

During 2010-2011, the FLI has been offering grants to course teams aimed at enhancing the quality of blended and flexible learning (BFL) approaches across their course. The grants include $2000 funding, as well as planning support to develop a 'symposium' which brings together all members of the course team to develop a draft strategy for BFL. This is then be refined and implemented in the months that follow. The strategy is also able to be used by Course Directors in writing up Part B of the Annual Course Performance Report (APCR).

But of course, funds are limited, and there are many more courses at CSU than can be funded through such an initiative. The idea behind the DIY symposium is that we will offer what has been learned from past symposiums to other course teams so that they will have a 'leg up' in planning something similar of their own. In short, through the ideas and activities offered on this page we hope to enable you to efficiently and effectively develop a program for your own symposium that is context-relevant, and which will lead to an implementable course strategy in BFL.

Click here for a short (5 min) podcast on what you can hope to achieve through your DIY symposium, and what we've found so far about what works, and what is less successful.

Preparing yourself

There's a wealth of information in the literature about course design, blended and flexible learning, and perhaps a bit less so about course team processes. We've selected the following as good starting points for preparing yourself (and your team) for a BFL review.

In addition to these readings, try to become familiar with the resources that are available.This means looking through the BFL wiki, blog and social bookmarking sites, as well as FLI's YouTube channel.

Preparing your team

Any kind of planning for team events needs to avoid a lone-ranger approach. The following are some people who are important to have in your team:
  • The Course Director (or equivalent)
  • Educational Designer
  • Chair of your School L&T Committee
  • Other key 'strategic thinkers'

Your planning team needs to understand what stage of team development you're at, what might be achievable in the F2F time available, and be able to do enough prep work to effectively facilitate the process and manage conversations that can very easily meander.

From our experience, each team starts from a different place when it comes to developing any form of course strategy. Some have been thinking and working at a course level for some time and have already worked through at least one other theme in the CSUDegree Initiative, while others are still recruiting Course Directors and are at the very early stages of that journey.


See also the 'working effectively as a team' activities below.

Taking care of organisational matters

Here are some things you might want to consider:
  • Does your planning team need to meet before the symposium to think through the process for the group and to provide resources for their consideration (e.g. what BFL strategies are already in use)?
  • When is the right time to hold your symposium? Is your course having other review meetings that this could tie into? Are you considering other theme areas (e.g. first year experience, work place learning, cultural competence) and think it might be useful to consider these themes together? When are academics most available, most in the 'headspace' to discuss course strategies?
  • How long will your course symposium take? Will you have pre-symposium activities, followed by a 2-day face-to-face workshop, followed by post-symposium activities? Another combination? What kind of structure do you need to ensure that your symposium leads to an implemented and evaluated strategy, not just a piece of paper filled with good ideas?
  • Who will be invited? Are there specific areas of need within your course team that would benefit from external input? If your team is spread across multiple campuses, how can you blended virtual and f2f meetings to gain the most from your time together (is funding required)? Would you like your sub-dean L&T to present on BFL from a Faculty perspective?

Planning the event

There are any number of activities that might form part of your symposium, depending on what has come beforehand, and how well your team is functioning. The following sample activities have been developed by past symposium teams, and enhanced with the assistance of the LTS Course Design group, convened by William Adlong. The idea is that you select (and modify) activities based on the outcomes you want to achieve and which are right for you. Each link will take you to an activity, which you can review, copy or modify to form your own program.

Work effectively as a course team

Establish consensus on your goals

Develop a strategy (in relation to the 5 perspectives)
  • Analyse what's already happening at different stages of the course in terms of BFL
  • Examine your course in terms of BFL (consider the 5 perspectives, include getting ideas and inspriation)
  • Establish priorities (for course-based strategies, areas for experimentation)
  • Develop an action plan (link: for next 1-3 years, including PD needs)

Putting your plan into action
  • Organise PD and other support (LINK: Check that the whole team is clear about and knows where to access BFL resources - from the wiki site, as well as specific info on ICTs and their affordances in the various LTS locations (e.g. L&T site, About ICT Integration and ePortfolios sites etc)
  • Implement plans (LINK:Work together on implementation plans for specific strategies in 'stage' teams? (e.g. first stage/year, middle stage, final stage)
  • Evaluate and improve (LINK: How to, what makes a good evaluation)

Wotif...advice for specific course scenarios

Every course is different, and that means that a single planning template for each and every symposium just won't work. We've looked at some of the different scenarios we see in CSU course teams, and have developed some ideas that might help in these particular scenarios.

Wotif my course team...
  • has members with strong but opposing views
  • has members who aren't interested in BFL / curriculum renewal (?)
  • likes to work individually, not as a team
  • works across campuses
  • has different levels of participation - some members very active, others inactive (at a course level)
  • has different levels of experience and expertise in BFL
  • has a course leader who has little or no experience in course redesign
  • is overloaded, and doesn't have enough time to work on this

Wotif my course...
  • has many electives
  • has many service subjects
  • has restrictions placed on it (e.g. due to accreditation)
  • is offered through partner institutions (e.g. no Interact access)

Wotif our students...
  • have poor internet access
  • have poor ICT skills