“The LX Transformation is not workload. It can be an opportunity to lighten your load through the Whole of Course approach, and you can come out the other end feeling so proud about the course that you are delivering to students”

Vanessa Scarf

To celebrate the achievements of the course teams engaging with the LX Transformation (LXT), I sat down with Vanessa Scarf, the Course Director for the Graduate Diploma of Midwifery, on a quiet Tuesday afternoon. We uncovered the work going on behind the scenes and discussed the challenges, insights, success and excitement that LXT has inspired.

Graduate Diploma of Midwifery

The Graduate Diploma of Midwifery is accredited by the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council, and must frequently undergo a rigorous curriculum review. Their strict requirements have resulted in a close and collaborative course team. So early this year, as a part of the LX Transformation, this team, led by Vanessa and made up of six subject coordinators that teach across both postgraduate and undergraduate subjects, worked to combine the opportunities of this review process with UTS’s digital transformation.

The excitement

On top of being the Course Director, Vanessa also teaches four of the eight subjects in the postgraduate course. Due to time restrictions, these subjects, she admits, are “incredibly dense” for both students and staff alike. With eight subjects of the full-time course completed in one year and with only a single day of face-to-face student and academic interaction per week, effective blended learning and online activities are essential for the success of this course.

Q. What excites you about the LX Transformation?
“I am really happy that it is not just a ‘drag and dump’.”

Vanessa spoke enthusiastically about her first interactions with the Canvas learning platform, describing is as “user friendly and intuitive”, and she’s eager to use student engagement tools to streamline and enhance pre-class content. Vanessa and her team hope that these new tools will enable staff to use class time for active discussion and participation. Ensuring that limited class time is used productively and engages and challenges students can be difficult, but with Canvas providing possible solutions, Vanessa and her team are excited about the opportunities that running their new course in 2020 will bring.

The challenges

“The biggest challenge was that we didn’t actually know what we were dealing with.”

With every large project, there are always challenges along the way. For Vanessa and her team, it took a hands on approach to understand how their modularised content could be organised within Canvas to suit the GD Midwifery course schedule. Due to the structure of the course itself, the majority of the content was already modularised. Once the course team entered their MakerSpace in September with Learning Design and Technology Specialists from UTS’s LX.lab to help, how they could use the tools and templates at hand quickly became clear.

Q. Is there anything that surprised you about the process?
“What pleasantly surprised me was that the work that has gone into the Canvas shells has just made everything much easier”

One final question

Although the demands of marking and end of session administration, and the successful submission of her own thesis, have meant that time to focus on her Canvas subject sites has been limited, Vanessa’s excitement is contagious. Her plans for elevating the experience of her students sprawl into the future, well beyond the LX Transformation. The use of online modules has the potential to elevate the postgraduate course to a new level, with Vanessa and her team hoping to transform particular modules into online only components that would be completed prior to face-to-face sessions and ease the workload of PG students. With this in mind, Vanessa and her team are hard at work behind the scenes preparing their course for 2020.

Q. Do you have any advice for undergraduate course teams about to begin the LX Transformation?
“I think that sitting together in the Whole of Course meet-ups where you plan and map out your subjects is incredibly important. Have an open mind and an open heart about the process”

Want to learn more about the LX Transformation?

Have a look at our archive of LXT articles. You can also contact us with any questions LXT on Lx.transformation@uts.edu.au.

For resources to help you in your Canvas site creation, visit the new LX Resources Site. If you’re looking to get some hands on experience or just learn more about the LX Transformation, head to the LX Events page for workshops throughout November, December and into 2020.

Feature image by wdongxv.

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