Feeling overwhelmed to design your summer subject in Intensive Mode delivery? You are in the right place. In this blog post, I will share my ‘secrets’ on how to go about this massive task. I have run learning design workshops in Intensive Mode delivery before at Macquarie and Western Sydney University. I also designed a couple of dozens of subjects for summer school (Science, Education, Psychology, and Social Sciences).
Scholars have discussed before the term of Compress Mode (CM) to refer to Intensive Mode (IM) delivery. I personally don’t like to use compress as, in digital media means compromise quality of the product. I believe IM subjects need to maintain the pedagogical integrity and cover the same topics/assessment tasks that are delivered in standard sessions.
Intensive Mode (IM) Facts
Here are some facts on IM highlighted by scholars:
An Effective Learning Design for Intensive Mode (IM) Delivery
But you wonder, what a successful learning design for IM may consider?
Do you think this is a hard? Yes, it is, but it is possible.
A Framework to Guide Intensive Mode Delivery
In 2015, we developed a Framework called ‘A Model for Intensive Mode Delivery’ (MIMD) (Figure 1). The framework considers 4 stages in the learning design process: i) questions to ask before designing the subject; ii) assessment approaches; iii) learning and teaching strategies, and; iv) student support. This model was used to implement IM delivery subjects at Macquarie University, Faculty of Business. The intervention has been published this year as full paper at the EdMedia Conference Proceedings.
Figure 1: A Model for Intensive Mode Delivery (MIMD)
Questions to consider
The first step in our model is a set of questions to help academics to think about learning design for IM:
Intensive Mode requires sophisticated and meaningful assessment design. Including formative assessment, ensure students receive regular feedback to be aware of their progress in the subject. Adopting an active learning design promotes a student-centred model for learning. Assessments should facilitate reflection mostly due to the shortened timeframe for consideration. For example, offering small group discussions and journal keeping as a way forward and designing content to be digestible chunks.
Learning and Teaching Strategies
One of the first things to consider for IM subjects is re-configuring the subject schedule including aligning assessment due dates. Also, it is recommended both curriculum and instructional approaches to be modified in the interest of facilitating different learner profiles. Variety is a learning and teaching strategy that is often mentioned for IM delivery. Variety can be achieved in pace and form of content delivery and using different activities to name a few. In addition to using varied approaches to content is using content that is personalised, aligned to learning outcomes, and focused on depth. Learning resources should also be selected and delivered bearing in mind the time and pace, variety and the student profile.
Student-preparedness can impact engagement in IM subjects. By being mindful of the limited time frame providing more instruction is more, ensuring all materials for learning are readily available (to ensure time is not wasted in searching), and giving and eliciting feedback are strategies for supporting students. Providing students with early access to content is a way to give students a head start. Teacher qualities are one of the paramount requirements for delivering IM, a relaxed learning environment, fostering close relationships and more interaction with peers and their teacher is regarded favourable.
Evaluation ensures to gather student experience in IM subjects for further improvement the following session. This to consider for evaluation are:
I designed an online survey to evaluate IM delivery (blended approach), I will be happy to provide a copy of the questions.
Timing Activities that will Occur in IM Delivery
It is important to ensure that the workload of IM subjects is equivalent as standard semester/sessions. You don’t want to give the students the opportunity to think IM is easy than the standard session. We will put an example for you to visualise what I am saying:
Let’s imagine a standard session is 12 weeks. Each week students will have 4 contact hours on campus (F2F Lectures, Tutorials and/or Practicals). Then, it is recommended for them to spend 6 hours of self-directed learning activities. So, a week of study during the standard session will be 10 hours, multiply by 12 is 120 hours. If your subject for summer session will be delivered in 4 weeks, it means the workload per week for the students will be 30 hrs. So, this means students will be only able to enrol in one subject at a time for summer.
When I was the Blended Learning advisor for Western Sydney University, using this rationale, we developed the SUNSET Tool. In a nutshell, this tool is:
You may use this tool to design your summer session, it is free! Bear in mind, a summer subject should have the same assignment structure than the standard session, and this is called assignment integrity.
Welcome videos are essential to set the scene and expectations. The welcome video needs to be uploaded a week before the summer session starts. Figure 2 presents video watching patterns for summer sessions (WSU, 2014). The first peak was reached a week before the semester and the second peak when the semester started. Additionally, weekly video to remind the students to be on task has been proved to be beneficial. You don’t need to produce fancy videos, you can use your laptop camera and summarise the expectations for the week. Is not the same missing a week in the standard semester than missing a week in IM subject.
Figure 2: Number of students who watched the welcome video for six different subjects
Possible Issues with the Design of Summer Subjects
In summary, IM delivery brings opportunities to rethink the learning design for our subjects and sometimes help to ‘dump’ subject content that we are emotionally attached. The world has changed, and we need to make education relevant to the times we live. Remember, a good learning design takes time, and it is an iterative process.
Finally, if you go to the beach this summer, don’t forget your sunscreen!
As usual, happy to answer any query you may have.
Working in the field of learning design for almost a decade, I decided to write a conference paper on developing compelling subject outlines for EdMedia 2017. This blog post is a summary of my upcoming publication to help academics to implement blended learning initiatives.
There are strategic writing rules to engage students in reading subject outlines; the first rule is to write the content succinctly, which means clear writing using active sentences to attract student’s attention. The writing needs to stay focus, distill content and eliminate redundancy. It is crucial to use a conversational style and means writing the information as having a conversation. This principle is called personalisation in multimedia learning and has been found to have a positive impact on learning. Using precise terms when writing and considering the audience is important as it may be students with English as an Additional Language (EAL). They will respond better to terms that are easy to understand and quick to read. Finally, keeping sentences short and to the point helps readers to understand and engage with the content.
Subject Learning Objectives
Design learning outcomes that are measurable can be challenging. Often tasks are confused with learning objectives. Also, vague words are used such as ‘be familiar’, ‘have knowledge’, ‘demonstrate understanding’ or ‘appreciate’. These words cannot be measured by assessment tasks. Active verbs need to be used to write learning outcomes. The SOLO Taxonomy (Structure of Observed Learning Outcomes) is a model that describes levels of increasing complexity in student's understanding of a topic (Table 1). Other taxonomies include Bloom’s Taxonomy and SAMR model.
Table 1: SOLO Taxonomy and the levels of understanding
Writing realistic and measurable subject learning objectives will facilitate the mapping of assessment tasks.
Teaching and Learning Strategies
This section is a core area of a subject outline, and the intent is to communicate to the students how they will be learning during the semester. This section needs to spell clear how the learning design is organised. It is highly recommended to write this section using elegant, professional, expressive, readable and understandable language. Key concepts to consider to write this section are:
Each assessment task should be linked to the relevant subject learning objectives, Faculty/School graduate attributes and with Course Intended Learning Outcomes (CILOS). Constructive alignment ensures that learning outcomes are aligned with assessments and task the students will perform during the semester. This approach is globally required in higher education institutions, as it will ensure the quality of teaching and learning.
Authentic assessment is a task that represents a real-life scenario and should satisfy the following criteria:
I usually introduce the GRASP Model to my colleagues to facilitate the design of an authentic task:
Table 2: The GRASP model to create an authentic task.
Good examples of authentic assessments can be considered:
Following these recommendations will ensure your subject will be (or close to being) blended learning compliant. Teaching is not only about knowing the subject content but understanding basic educational principles to engage students in active, meaningful and transformative learning. Designing a perfect subject outline is an iterative process that can take several semesters to polish.
Educational technology has the potential to improve learning in higher education. We need to make education relevant to the times we live. Technology has created a new order in society; we cannot deny this to a future generation of professionals. Just to bear in mind, first is pedagogy and instructional approaches, then embedding the technology in a meaningful way.
The full paper will be published at the The Learning and Technology Online Library in July. Happy to send a copy of accepted manuscript on request.