The UQx project has an overarching aim to help the university inform and influence best practice in teaching and learning whether online or on campus. Joining edX enables UQ to significantly expand our global engagement, gives us access to exciting emerging technologies, rich sources of data and insights from consortium partners. This will directly support innovation among our academic staff and help enrich the student learning experience.
What is UQx Looking For?
The current focus for new courses has been defined by the university and is aimed at expanding the edX offerings for targeted groups of online learners. The key elements of the current UQ focus are:
- derived from the preferred disciple areas of Business, Medicine and Science,
- equivalent to an introductory or first level university course.
- a short course of between 4 - 8 weeks could constitute part of a series of related courses (xSeries)
- could be used to enhance or redefine part or all of an existing UQ course.
What Types of Courses Can be Developed?
There are two types of courses produced by UQx. MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) or a SPOCs (Small Private Online Courses). Both can be delivered with a clear start and end date and then archived until it is actively delivered again with team support. An archived course is still accessible by new students but some of the elements of the course may not be available. A course can also be designed to be self-paced which means it runs continuously with students enrolling in and completing the course at any time. Depending on how the course is designed this may require minimal support from course staff.
MOOC - Massive Open Online Course
This type of course is free, open to a global audience so it can have very large class sizes (>5000), can vary in length from 6 - 12 weeks and usually has a student commitment of between 2 and 6 hours per week. This type of course would align more naturally with a whole or part of a standard UQ course. Currently there is no course credit for UQ students successfully completing a MOOC although UQ staff are using MOOCs to deliver content to UQ students enrolled in current “for credit” UQ courses.
SPOC - Small Private Online Course
Aimed at smaller more private groups, a SPOC uses the MOOC design paradigm locally for on-campus students or a select group of learners who join by invitation. They can have similar time commitments to that of a MOOC but could also be used for more specialist short duration courses that may involve a fee.
Course Completion Recognition
All edX courses offer a mechanism whereby a student can receive formal recognition that they have completed a course and passed the summative assessments. The two types of recognition currently on offer are the Honour Certificate which acknowledges that a student has met the course assessment requirements and therefore has passed the course. The Verified Certificate is similar to the Honour Certificate in its assessment requirements but in addition requires that the student is identified online. Since this requires a third party to authenticate the student this has a fee attached. Currently this fee is set at $US100 for UQx courses.
More information about these certificates can be found on the edX FAQ.
What is the Expected Workload?
Based on current experience and depending on both the course length and the number of members in the team, the commitment is significant. For a small number of presenters for a course of approximately 8 weeks it is expected that direct time commitments could be a minimum of 150 hours per team member with a greater commitment from the team lead.
What does UQx Provide?
The UQx Project has been established to support online offerings via a number of avenues including educational design, multimedia development, technical support and support in delivering the course to the student cohort. More specifically support can include:
- assistance in scoping and designing your course through a formal one on one design process.
- a dedicated learning designer.
- assistance in the project management of your course development.
- multimedia support in the production of course assets including videography, animation and special effects.
- multimedia equipment for loan.
- two production studios and associated editing facilities.
- technical support in the development of simulations, advanced assessment tools or other online applications that require expert software development.
- presentation coaching.
- financial advice.
- training and assistance with building your course in the edX platform.
- advice in managing your published course.
- advice on managing your archived course or reverting to a “self paced” course.
- other financial, capital and human resources as negotiated.
- assistance with managemment and access to research data collected during the running of your course.
How to Get Started
There are two ways a UQx course can be nominated for development. The first is UQx approaching a School, Faculty of other organisational unit and suggesting courses in the appropriate discipline area. The second is an individual academic or an organisational unit approaching UQx with a proposal that aligns with the UQx preferred discipline areas.
For the first nomination process UQx will usually approach a Faculty, Associate Dean Academic or a Head of School with a proposal that, with approval, would be passed to the appropriate academic team. If accepted then the team would engage in a formal Project Commissioning Workshop which would define the scope, resources required and timeline for the project as part of a formal negotiation process.
The second type of nomination involves a proposal being put to UQx by an organisational group, a team or in rare cases, an individual. The proposed course should be aligned with the UQx preferred discipline areas.
In the case of a team or an individual there are a number of steps that need to be completed:
- Discuss your proposal with your organisational group since it is essential that the project has direct support given the significant individual commitment required. This commitment may have workload implications for your unit.
- In consultation with UQx prepare a short one page proposal. This proposal should align with the UQx preferred discipline areas.
- If the proposal is of direct interest to UQ then a more detailed Project Commissioning workshop would outline the purpose, scope, target audience timeline and resource requirements.
- Based on the outcomes of the Project Commissioning Workshop a decision will be made by the UQx Steering Committee as to the suitability of the proposal for a UQx course.
What is the Process for Course Development?
UQx has developed a well-defined process for the development of a course that is delivered on the edX platform. Download the Design Methodology here.
The process involves five distinct phases starting with the Project Commissioning Workshop and ending with a course Review as shown in the figure. Each of the phases has clearly defined milestones that teams are strongly encouraged to meet so that the production of the course is kept on track.
How Long Does it Take to Develop a Course?
Based on experience an 8 week course with around 2 - 4 hours student contact per week will take a minimum of 6 months to design the course and produce the content. This time assumes that the team members will still have their normal commitments within their organisational units. If the course requires more complex material to be produced including significant software development or it requires collection of material off campus then this can add significantly to the development timeline. In this case 8 - 12 months may be more realistic. These periods also include the extensive quality control required for all courses released under the UQ name.
What is Required in Running a Live Course?
As with any course the major commitment of the team members is dealing with student enquiries, monitoring the Discussion Board if used and correcting errors in the content as they are pointed out by students or other parties. Each course team decides how they will handle the “student voice” but direct input by course staff is strongly recommended so that the students feel they are part of a “real class”.
What Happens when the Course is Completed?
If the course is only run once, or there are intervals between the delivery of the course, it is archived. The course content is still accessible and assessment can still be completed but some elements may be removed such as discussion forums. If the course has students who have signed up for either an Honour Certificate or a Verified Certificate these certificates will be sent to the students who have successfully completed the assessment tasks and have met the team defined minimum standard.
A course may also be run as self-paced, rather than archived, with students able to commence and complete at their own pace. Certificates are awarded periodically for those students who have successfully completed a self-paced course.
If you are interested in further information the best course of action is to contact a UQx staff member at firstname.lastname@example.org