Building an effective course team

As we all know, there are many kinds of course teams at CSU, from those working on a single campus with all permanent staff and no service subjects to those bringing together staff and students across multiple campuses, even multiple faculties and relying heavily on casual staff. The task of bringing together a focussed and dedicated course team will clearly be much trickier in the latter scenario, but not impossible. The following strategies are offered not as a recipe for success but as points to consider when starting on the course redesign process. If you have already worked successfully as a course team and have strategies to share, please post as a comment on this page.

  • Don't forget the team by focusing only on the task. An effective team needs to know why it is there and what it is working towards, how each member will contribute (working on the strengths of each member), the process you'll use to reach your goals, some understanding of context (how what you are doing fits with what is happening elsewhere in the university) and ... the best bit ... a way to celebrate when you have achieved something.

  • When commencing the course redesign process, consider bringing together all team members for a symposium/retreat where they can focus on framing the task at hand, setting up common goals and understandings and deliberating on the framework offered as part of this website. What does each course team member 'bring to the table', and how might this impact on your design process? FLI offers course team symposium grants to support course teams as they begin this process of developing a BFL course strategy.

  • Early in the process, discuss the culture and context of your learners and the educational principles your course team agrees upon to guide your course redesign (Simpson and Anderson, 2009). This might be the first time you have had this discussion, or it might just be an opportunity to revisit past decisions with new staff involvement. How do the principles presented here integrate with these? This discussion offers the opportunity to uncover hidden assumptions, establish a 'common ground' from which your course team can refer back to when making design decisions, and most importantly, ensure that design decisions are based on educational principles, not the potential of new technologies.

  • Document your decisions. Agree on a draft structure for your BFL strategy right from the start, and build into this your decisions as you make them. This 'working document' should be made available to all in a common area (e.g. S drive, an Interact site or PebblePad gateway, Googledocs etc).

  • Ensure that all course team members are part of your design meetings and decisions, including casual staff and academic support staff, such as your educational designer, library liaison officer and learning skills staff, to 'obtain the benefits of multiple perspectives on design issues and increase the sense of ownership and commitment to the (course)' (Stacey and Gerbic, 2009, p.305). Find a strategy that works for your team - will you opt for coming together for a full day less regularly or shorter, more regular meetings? What is likely to ensure greater participation in your team? Encourage those unable to attend a meeting to comment on and contribute to the documented decisions before the next meeting.