Elements of this page have been reviewed by key stakeholders in specific focus areas, including Franziska Trede, Barbara Hill, Deb Murdoch, John Rafferty, David Prescott and Tony McKenzie.

Other aspects of learning design that warrant other-areas.jpg attention

While the bulk of this site has looked at blended and flexible learning, the CSU Degree has also adopted a number of other good practice guides related to learning and teaching. Each focuses on a specific part of the learning experience, and offers a number of other 'principles' and 'guidelines' to follow in order to enhance the learning experience for all. Just more boxes to tick off? It could be if you let it.

Remember, each of these guides should help to inform and shed light on your course by challenging you to look at it through different lenses. Many of the principles in the guides are overlapping - which is to be expected, as each is underpinned by what we know about effective teaching, and each is talking about the student learning experience, just different parts of that experience. You'll gain the most from them if you critically reflect on what each guide is saying, and incorporate what works for your own course, for your own context, into a single course guide that documents your approach.

The following considers the other Good Practice Guides from the perspective of blended and flexible learning.

Designing the first year experience

The first year of university study is crucial for engaging students in their studies, with their learning community, and providing the requisite foundation skills to be successful and independent learners in later years (Kift, 2009). Yet it is also a time when students are most at risk of withdrawing from studies (Smith, 2010). This is especially true for distance students, who often lack the personal contact with their teachers and peers and can become quite isolated if a proactive approach isn't taken to bring students together.

The first year curriculum principlesprovide guidance in six key areas: transition, diversity, design, engagement, assessment, and evaluation and monitoring. Similar to the BFL approach, they offer a range of questions for course teams to consider to ensure that the experience of students in their first year is a positive one, and provides the foundation required for later years.

What are the special needs of first years?
What's important in terms of BFL?

Some of the questions posed in relation to the various first year principles are particularly relevant to blended and flexible learning, especially in the area of engagement:

Are students provided with the opportunity to self-assess their entry knowledge, skills and attitudes against discipline expectations? (Transition) Similar questions are posed in the pedagogy perspective of this site, and a course team may consider a range of technologies to support such self-assessment, particularly the use of blogs or ePortfolios.

Is flexibility built in across the curriculum design to ensure greater accessibility by diverse cohorts? (Diversity) This one has an obvious link to BFL.

How well does the curriculum scaffold tertiary and discipline learning and also the ‘enablers’/processes of that learning within and across first year subjects (and not focus solely or more heavily on the content of that learning)? (Design) Part of that 'tertiary learning' is the development of multi-literacies, including digital literacy. Using a backward mapping approach, course teams might consider what skills are essential for students to have developed by the end of the first stage of their degree, and plan accordingly.

What collaborative learning opportunities exist? (Engagement) Once again, a strong link to one of the BFL principles, and to our 'interactions' perspective.

What staff-to-students interactions are made available (e.g. expert seminars; staff panels; streamed podcasts/videos; careers nights with staff and alumni; students and alumni sessions; discipline blog; academic mentors appointed for first year)? (Engagement) Once again, lots of synergies here with the 'interactions' perspective.

Do first year students have physical (or virtual) spaces available to them to encourage social interaction and a sense of belonging? (Engagement) Links here to the 'learning spaces' perspectives. What kinds of spaces are especially important to the kinds of interactions required in first year?

What are the formal and informal opportunities for you to engage with your first year cohort? (Engagement) Again, links to both 'learning spaces' and 'interactions', as well as 'pedagogies'. Are there different kinds of spaces required in first year as students get to know each other, the staff and the university in general, and what is required of them? How can you make the most of the spaces available to you?

Designing final year experiences

Do you need to consider the students' transition to the professional, public sphere where a range of social media may be used?

While designing for final year experiences is not currently part of the CSU Degree framework, a Guide for leaving site for final year students has been available for the past few years. Currently various CSU courses engage with the concept of a 'capstone' or culminating experience in different ways. For example, some courses use final year internments as a way for students to draw together past learning and apply this to their practice. Other courses use a final project-based assessment which requires students to similarly bring together a range of knowledge, skills and attitudes from the course in responding to a real or simulated scenario. Still others look at capstone experiences as something that occurs incrementally throughout a course, with students bringing together various course experiences in one or more course ePortfolios to 'make sense' of the interconnections between their learning during all stages of their degree.

What's important in terms of BFL?
In terms of BFL, course teams may want to look at how they are helping students to bring together the various elements of their learning during the course of the degree, and consider what kinds of pedagogies, learning spaces, interactions and ICTs might support this. For example, if you have decided on an internship approach, what kinds of virtual learning spaces will you use to enable students to continue to interact with academic staff and their peers, and reflect on their experiences? If you are using an incremental approach, will you use ePortfolios to help students make connections between concepts and subject areas, as well as develop their own professional identity? If not, what other tools might you use?

Another question might be, 'If we've decided that these particular literacies are important for our students to develop, how will we enable them to bring those together and practice their use in an authentic context as part of a capstone experience?' Does your course only use institutionally-provided technologies in private spaces (such as Interact and PebblePad)? If so, do you need to consider the students' transition to the professional, public sphere where a range of social media may be used, requiring a new set of literacy to be developed?

Designing education for practice

Dentistry student practice skills in the simulation clinic

Practice-Based Education (PBE) refers to 'grounding education in strategies, content and goals that direct students’ learning towards preparation for practice roles post graduation. PBE includes curriculum, subject, stream and activity level approaches such as goal setting and curriculum design as well as workplace learning (WPL) induction and placements. PBE can occur in on-campus, workplace, distance and e-learning components of curricula' (Guidelines for best practice in PBE, 2010). Core goals of PBE are:

- professionalism and citizenship (including values),
- professional judgement: criticality and creativity,
- communication and interactions (including cultural competence),
- information literacy,
- professional competence (and capability to maintain/enhance competence), and
- work readiness (incorporates all of the above).

CSU's Education for Practice Institute (EFPI) have developed a research program, professional development initiatives and resources on practice-based education and workplace learning that are valuable for course teams exploring this theme in depth.

As you can see, once again there is great overlap with the PBE guidelines and many of the other good practice guides. Key principles such as student engagement, lifelong learning, and interaction are included, though through a PBE lens. Once again, this just reinforces the importance of these principles for effective learning and teaching generally.

What's important in terms of BFL?
In BFL, we encourage course teams to consider the multi-literacies students need to develop throughout their time at CSU. Similarly, the PBE guidelines point to different professional literacies that students will require, including exploration of their professional identity, self-monitoring, ethics, codes of conduct, workplace communication, teamwork and so on.

Another PBE principle is interaction between learners, practitioners and clients, which offers a new dimension to the BFL perspective on interactions. It might be a good idea for course teams to consider this PBE principle at the same time as they look at this perspective, for example, how students might maintain contact with each other and with the university while engaging in workplace learning, or how the might incorporate informal learning from their own workplace experiences into their development of a professional identity, such as through an ePortfolio. The guidelines also talk about bringing 'the real world into the classroom, blended and distance learning environments', which is definitely worth considering together with the pedagogy (in terms of experiential, situated and reflective learning) and learning spaces perspectives.

Finally, the PBE principles look at the importance of exposing students to strong role models as part of their learning, particularly to model competence, integrity and ethical behaviour. When considering the need for different learning spaces, it would benefit course teams to think about incorporating spaces that would allow distance students to regularly interact with professionals from their discipline who may act in this role.

Designing assessments

Assessment - not just about performace testing, but 'equipping students for the learning and assessing they will need to do after completing their course and the challenges they will face after graduation' (Boud, 2010).
Assessment - not just about performace testing, but 'equipping students for the learning and assessing they will need to do after completing their course and the challenges they will face after graduation' (Boud, 2010).

At the moment, the ALTC-funded Assessment Futures site and, in particular, the seven propositions in the associated Assessment2020 document, are being used to guide good assessment practice at CSU. These documents focus on engaging students in authentic tasks, students co-designing assessments, incorporating tasks that integrate rather than fragment knowledge, developing self-regulation skills, modelling and practice, working with peers, and strengthening the feedback process.

Assessment2020 emphasises designing assessment for learning, that is, assessment that is designed in itself to enhance learning, not just test what learning has occurred. There's a strong emphasis on formative assessment and feedback to help students identify strengths and areas for further work.

David Boud, in discussing the conceptual framework for Assessment Futures, says, 'Assessment Futures is not about new techniques or assessment methods, but about ensuring that what we do in assessment is always subordinated to the main goal of higher education, which is to develop educated citizens who can face the many challenges of a complex and changing society' (Boud, 2010).

What's important in terms of BFL?
The emphasis in Assessment2020 on student engagement, authentic assessment, preparing students for lifelong learning and sustainable practice, as discussed in the conceptual framework, are replicated in the BFL principles. When thinking about designing assessments, a course team or individual subject coordinator may consider the kinds of interactions that may need to occur, the learning spaces that might best suit those interactions, and the ICTs that might be used, for example, to develop authentic assessments and enable rapid feedback (both formative and summative) to students.

Incorporating the articulation of values

The CSU Degree framework has incorporated a number of values-based themes, including ethical competence (draft only), cultural competence, environmental, social and financial sustainability (draft only), and internationalisation (draft only). Given this emphasis, it's important for the course team to consider how it would like to approach the teaching of values, what other values underpin the course, how these align to the teaching staff's own values, and the implications of this for the explicit and hidden curriculum.

Developing cultural competency - a vital part of the CSU Degree experience
What's important in terms of BFL?

In terms of BFL, course teams may want to consider the kinds of learning spaces and ICTs that are provided to students, and whether these allow for students to engage in both public and private reflection. In addition, the team may want to consider how students will record the development of values across subjects and over time. Once again, the use of ePortfolios may be considered useful here.

Of course, given the emphasis on values, course teams may want to look at reflective learning when considering the pedagogy perspective. In addition, creating an environment where students develop their own social presence and develop a sense of trust in the academics and their peers will be paramount, and this might be considered in the interactions perspective.

In conclusion...

It's impossible to see the various sets of guidelines in isolation. Like BFL, each has effective teaching as an underlying foundation, if not explicitly stated, implicitly inferred through the principles themselves. No matter what theme area the course teams begins with, it's wise to have a reasonable understanding of them all to make the most of these synergies.