One of the great things about the UTS Teaching and Learning Forum is hearing from a wide range of people about how they are approaching their teaching and planning across different faculties. 

At the session A conversation with the “transformed”: stories from academics going through subject transformation we were able to hear from three such colleagues and their experience in whole of course teams going through the LX Transformation for teaching postgraduate subjects in Autumn 2020.

Gabriela Quintana Vigiola (DAB)

Gabriela joined the conversation as course director of one of the very first courses to go through the Whole of Course process. While Gabriela’s course team already meet regularly and work together to plan their subjects, Gabriela recommended getting into discussions with your team early and shared these insights:

  • Most of our marking is done in October/November and we work in block mode – start early and organise the transformation around your schedule.
  • We already had our subjects organised by themes instead of week-to-week lessons, so in our case it was about highlighting the things we have already been doing well. Through this process, what has been transformed the most is the online interaction with students in each subject – at the end of each module after the assessment task brief, we are including a discussion forum so students can ask questions there. We aim to decrease the amount of time we spend answering questions from students e.g. discussion forums so we can answer the question once.
  • Not all subjects can be structured the same way. In a year’s time we will sit down and see how the whole year went, which tools worked and which didn’t, how we can increase the interaction with our students in the online space.
  • Do the skeleton first then start building and filling in the blanks – you don’t have to build everything from scratch.
  • Take notes of the questions you have and then go to the LX.lab to ask!

Sophie Riley (Law)

As a subject coordinator preparing her subject for LXT, Sophie started with some trepidation for the work ahead. Sophie’s advice to her colleagues is to keep it simple and relevant to how you teach. Although she wasn’t able to make the Forum, Sophie shared some of her experience and tips:

  • “I didn’t like it” – I didn’t like the idea of moving to Canvas and was apprehensive about the system, it seemed that the subjects would require a complete restructure. But after some conversations with the LXT team about the system and how it could be used, it became a lot less daunting, and there are even a few things I am looking forward to!
  • Let the dust settle and work out what to make use of – you don’t need all the bells and whistles.
  • Make use of the LX.lab – the staff are very helpful and patient.
  • Think about the sequence and grouping – if you were going through and explaining the sequence to a student, think what you would say, what context you would provide, and include that.
  • Don’t try to do the whole thing at once – think about each module one at a time.
  • Try to use the same kind of learning patterns across modules – students have a consistent way of approaching the sequence and the learning.

Bernhard Wieder (Business)

Bernhard is a technology super-user from the Accounting Discipline Group and has been using UTSOnline extensively for years. While Bernhard was concerned at the amount of work moving all of his content across platforms would require, it became clear that it was also a chance to review and streamline his subjects. Bernhard shared his thoughts as well:

  • I was not particularly excited about moving to Canvas because I had developed automated marking and other things in UTSOnline. I wasn’t convinced of what Canvas could do and didn’t use sandpit despite my best intentions.
  • Storyboard workshop – eventually I found this quite useful.  Some of the sessions were hands on, which was very useful.
  • Luckily we had one guinea pig in our group who had used Canvas with a subject in Postgraduate.futures – she was interested in sharing knowledge and showed us how her subject was running – this was very valuable.
  • It is not actually so different from Blackboard, and it became clear to me there was a very good opportunity here. I had accumulated a lot of files and data over 20 years, and with Canvas I can start again. I can do everything I could do with Blackboard as well, like automatic marking. That was important to me and Canvas is much more straightforward and intuitive, easier to learn.
  • Building the subjects together created so much communication in terms of how you’re doing things. We realised we had overlaps in our content – we hadn’t looked at our core subjects in such detail together.
  • For me the most important transformative affect is that I have my modules and they are all in one place in a structure, so it all flows from module to module, students can see what they have to do in preparation, during and after class. It really flows much more nicely.  
  • My advice is to start lean and gradually add things, you can always add things later.

In case you missed the 2019 UTS Teaching and Learning Forum, check out the wrap-up blog post here.

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