Minimum requirements for CloudDeakin unit sites

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Framework

In September 2013, the following principles were agreed to assure minimum required standards in CloudDeakin units building on the introduction of a common template;

  • Goals – prominent information about learning outcomes, assessment and feedback
  • People – including teaching staff; a peer learning community, including discussion boards; learning support
    (study skills, career support, and so on)
  • Learning resources – information, including captured lectures (where possible in bites of up to 15 minutes), texts, web resources etc
  • Learning experiences – places or spaces to gather and connect with people, usually through organised classes, seminars and events, either on or off campus or both.
In February 2014 a standard CloudDeakin unit template was implemented with common site navigation including Home, Resources, Collaborate, Portfolio, Assessment tabs; and common widgets including help, unit chair and calendar.

As part of applying the common unit template faculties have considered how this framework and required standards can be
effectively implemented.  This exercise has resulted in a number of general observations and three strategies for progressing the University’s commitment to a positive learning experience for our
students supported by consistent required standards but a developing quality of online resources. The three strategies include:

  1. principles underlying the approach to ensuring unit quality in CloudDeakin
  2. specific items which can be “checked” as part of agreed required standards (refer to table 1)
  3. specific Faculty level standards based on particular priorities or the nature of units and courses (refer to table 2)

1. Broad approach

The following points have been identified in discussions with faculties and are broader than the required minimum standards, but form the basis of the University’s approach to establishing not only a minimum
standard for unit quality, but importantly focus on good practices and how the University can continue to evolve its cloud learning environment;
  • Students have the right to expect a reasonable degree of consistency in the way in which they will interact with learning opportunities on CloudDeakin, no matter where they may be studying. This includes both reasonably consistent location of features and access to functions, as well as the availability of information in a timely way
  • The focus on required standards which all units must meet is important but the real goal is to have many units that exceed this minimum and indeed many already do; exemplars of good practices within unit sites should be shared within and across faculties to show academic staff what can be achieved in cloud teaching and learning
  • Unit guides will be available at least one week before the trimester begins and welcome messages included in the News item on the unit home page will be included on unit sites before teaching commences
  • There are standards which can be assessed at the point of setting up a unit site (structural elements) and items/ elements that may be more appropriately reviewed once teaching has commenced–faculties will therefore continue to review unit sites throughout the trimester
  • When setting up sites for units which are repeated in subsequent trimesters, materials and information should not be rolled over in production, specific files and materials should be checked in draft sites first before uploading to ensure no old information is displayed to students
  • In addition to University required standards, faculties may establish their own additional requirements for unit sites
  • It is acknowledged that a “one size fits all” approach is not useful and therefore some sites will have less information, interactive opportunities and resources. Callista will continue to be used to prevent the generation of sites for units that do not meet the requirements for a unit site
  • Unit Chairs are responsible for unit sites
  • The learning repository will be used for print resources; this involves providing links to specific readings to ensure copyright compliance instead of uploading documents
  • Copyright compliance is the responsibility of Unit Chairs

Specific items that contribute to the required standards for unit sites are summarised below in table 1.

2. University required standards

Table 1 – Specific University standards mapped against unit quality framework

Framework
Specific elements

Goals

  • Approved BRUCE unit guide to be located in the top level folder structure in a unit site (naming convention to ensure unit guide in recognisable in the title)– one click (any edits required need to be done through approved BRUCE updating process to ensure unit guide on unit site is the same as BRUCE version).  Unit guides include:
    • learning outcomes
    • assessment requirements and feedback arrangements
  • Assessment folder: Include self-check Turnitin option for students
  • UniStart will include information about plagiarism and collusion which applies for all students 1
  • A process for indicating that students understand their responsibilities relating to plagiarism or collusion in submitting assessments will be included in a standard location on CloudDeakin sites 2
  • For students that submit assignments via a CloudDeakin assignment drop box, feedback and assignments will be returned in the same way

People

  • Welcome message from Unit Chair (including orientation to unit and learning outcomes/getting started) to be included in the News item on the unit home page before teaching commences
  • Include details of other teaching staff
  • Photos (optional but desirable)
  • Video (optional but desirable)

Learning Resources

  • Resources have a clear and logical flow, consistent formatting and descriptive file names
  • Technical and study support links are included in University approved help widgets
  • Echo capture (unless academic staff have specifically opted out)

Learning Experiences

  • Active cloud discussion boards are available in the unit site with staff overseeing discussions
  • At least one place on the site where unit related student questions are answered
  • Regular information is published to the site –  news and announcements eg. reminders about assignments, other unit requirements, responses to commonly asked questions.

3. Faculty requirements and initiatives to enhance the quality of unit sites

Table 2 – Additional initiatives identified by faculties

Faculty
Faculty initiatives for CloudDeakin unit sites

Arts and Education

  • Ensuring unit study guides are in html format
  • Ensuring learning resources use the learning repository

Business and Law

  • Use of assessment rubrics is a Faculty requirement
  • Faculty CloudDeakin unit and discipline templates applied each trimester for consistency and compliance
  • Webform used for set up of quizzes
  • Unit Guides are uploaded by the Faculty for all sites

Health

  • Have a consistent structure and layout for all units in the Faculty
  • Have set up a number of forms so staff can request for quizzes, assignment folders etc to be set up for them (forms guide good practice)
  • Bb Collaborate is made available for all sites as students can use this too

SEBE

  • Faculty templates used to ensure compliance with minimum standards
  • Resources organised on the basis of topics
  • Audit outcomes will be used to inform additional initiatives
Faculties will continue to develop good practices and behaviours which over time will achieve a higher standard of unit quality. Some examples of these practices include:

  • Site file preferred format is HTML
  • Learning resources cater for different learning styles
  • Real-time collaborative spaces are available in the unit site e.g. Bb Collaborate; make this available for all sites as students can use this too
  • Description and descriptive file names of a reasonable length and inclusion of explanatory information to facilitate searchability.