Adapting teaching methods to deliver tertiary courses online

Lincoln University

Adapting teaching methods to deliver tertiary courses online

The Diploma in Horticultural Business is a key programme for Lincoln University. To be viable in a world where remote working is ever more common and often essential, Lincoln decided this was the right first course to adapt and deliver primarily online. The eight papers that make up the course were redesigned, with Like-Minded providing the learning design and build expertise and a number of tutors providing the source content and subject expertise.
It was developed using Articulate Rise and Moodle, and the result was a cohesive, online experience that’s completed by the students over two semesters. It includes guided online material that was strongly supported by the tutors through zoom meetings, practice activities, assessments, and discussions.

Anytime, anywhere learning

The student experience is always at the centre of good learning design, and—as well as the challenges of COVID—many students taking this course are juggling study and work. The secret was to design the learning to manage this constant battle between time and energy.

Breaking the learning into manageable chunks and ensuring it was deliverable on a range of devices gave the students flexibility in how and where they accessed the core learning. They can work through complete concepts in short timeframes and monitor their progress. Fitting in with the audience’s lifestyle was the key to a successful transition to online learning, and it provided students with a robust experience—much the same as traditional classroom training would have done.

Speaking with one voice

With the range of topics, tutors, and teaching styles, the challenge was to turn the widely divergent source material into a cohesive, robust programme that delivered a common style for each paper. Some tutors were experienced in developing online courses, but some needed nurturing to think in a different way.

The challenge for us, as learning designers working with a range of subject matter experts, is to find an acceptable common approach. We also need to determine the appropriate tone and language, so that the final product looks like a cohesive suite of learning, all presented in a similar way. This way, each new topic has a familiar feel; this way, more time is spent learning and less time spent ‘learning how to learn’!

Collaborative working wins the day

The success of this project was attributable to the ability of everyone to work together, acknowledging each other’s areas of expertise. The tutors contributed their subject expertise and experience regarding academic rigour. Like-Minded supported the transition of content from face-to-face delivery into an effective online experience.

Along the journey, everyone learned more about the process of what it takes to develop effective online behavioural change training.

Following the trends

The demand in the learning industry is for more portable learning, more microlearning, and a transition to including more online experiences. This has been forced on some, and others are embracing it by diving in feet first! Either way, more organisations, not just tertiary institutes, will need to put more content online—just as Lincoln University has done.

This project has been an opportunity for Like-Minded to continue to unpick challenges and adapt. We were constantly looking for ways to streamline the development process without reducing quality and, most importantly, we were able to learn new ways to get ‘buy in’ from those who traditionally have delivered content in a face-to-face environment.

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