Context & Scale
This pattern is concerned with collaboratively developed learning assets that can be shared and adapted across multiple units.
Shared learning assets can be used in situations where different units can effectively utilise the same learning material. For example, if multiple units are being developed simultaneously, assets can be collaboratively developed and shared across units. Assets might focus on content or transferrable skills that all students in a set of units (e.g. at a particular degree level) need to develop. The approach supports a program-led approach to curriculum development.
Unit (re)development, particularly in large units, is a complex and time-consuming process. Quality learning materials, particularly those involving media or input from students and industry, are resource and time-intensive to produce. This pattern offers a solution for streamlining the development process through the collaborative production of learning assets relevant across multiple units. It also promotes consistency and coherence in the way certain knowledge and skills are developed across a suite of units, while also allowing for some flexibility.
While research has shown that the sharing of learning resources within a discipline or faculty is viewed as beneficial and appropriate, teachers have expressed concerns about the quality of resources and how they are attributed (Maloney et al., 2013). Such barriers to sharing resources are addressed in this pattern as it focuses on the collaborative development of resources that can be used in multiple contexts. Treasure-Jones and Joynes (2017) highlight the advantages of using a co-design approach to the development of learning resources.
The shared learning assets differ from open access resources. While open access resources are made available to the general public free of charge and commonly use a Creative Commons Licence to indicate rights and permissions, the shared learning assets are intended for use across a School/Faculty and are available for students enrolled in the relevant units.
Unit development that occurs in silos often leads to the unnecessary duplication of effort for academics, educational developers, learning designers, media producers and other stakeholders. From a student perspective, their experience can be improved by having particular learning approaches, concepts and methods reinforced and/or adapted to their contexts.
This pattern involves the development of learning assets that can be shared purposefully across multiple units and adapted as needed. The units utilising the learning assets may have some relationship to one another, for example, they might be part of a related discipline, occur at the same degree level, or be units within neighbouring specialisations within a degree program. To avoid ‘reinventing the wheel’, common learning assets are developed with the input of subject-matter experts, educational developers, learning designers and media producers working across different units. Input may also be sought from industry partners and students where appropriate. The development process benefits from central coordination, the input of multiple stakeholders, and opportunities for peer review leading to improvement.
Identify opportunities for the development of shared learning assets e.g. as part of a major program review process, strategic educational project, or when multiple units are being designed or redesigned simultaneously.
Identify shared student learning needs amongst the units e.g. are there common skills or graduate attributes that students need to develop across multiple units?
Agree on the scope of the shared learning assets, with a focus on ensuring they can be adapted where necessary to meet the student learning needs of the units involved.
Assign someone (e.g. an educational developer) to lead the development of each of the identified shared assets. Leaders are responsible for guiding the development process with relevant stakeholders.
Create guidelines for development to support efficiencies in the shared assets development process e.g. principles for learning design (online module structure, interactive activities etc.) and media production.
Those leading the development of each asset participate in a peer review process by giving and receiving feedback on draft assets before they are finalised.
Embed shared assets across identified units (adapting where necessary) and evaluate their effectiveness to inform future iterations.
Store the shared assets in a central repository so they can be easily duplicated and embedded in units as needed. Develop an asset register to track where the assets are deployed and record details of who created the assets for acknowledgement. This way, if an asset needs to be updated, it is clear which units are using the resource and where the updates need to be made.
Examples of pattern in use
Shared capstone learning assets
Shared learning assets were created in the context of a newly developed suite of capstone units in the Master of Commerce program at The University of Sydney Business School. Each of the seven capstone units were designed to provide an opportunity for students to demonstrate key learnings from their chosen specialisation, in particular, through an authentic group assessment project. We would like to acknowledge capstone unit coordinators, students, industry partners, learning designers, educational developers and media specialists who contributed to the development of the shared capstone assets.
The combined number of students across capstone units in 2022 was between 1600-1800 students, depending on the semester. Units spanned seven disciplines: Accounting, Business Analytics, Business Information Systems, Finance, Institute of Transport and Logistics, Marketing, and Strategy, Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The largest of these capstone units included 800-900 students.
Assessment guidelines were developed for capstone units within the Master of Commerce program to guide development across the units. As the guidelines promoted the inclusion of skills such as reflective practice, teamwork and the ability to give feedback to peers, it was recognised that resources to support students’ skills development in these areas and effectively prepare them for capstone assessment tasks would be relevant across multiple units. Capstone assessment tasks involved students’ responding to a real-life industry brief where possible.
The educational development team working with academics on the capstone unit development drafted a list of potential learning modules (assets) that could be shared across units. Educational developers were assigned different modules (each a learning asset) to develop in consultation with academics, and where relevant, students and industry members. Each educational developer drafted a potential structure and page content for their learning asset, and a peer review process was conducted.
As students across all specialisations needed to be oriented to their capstone experience, a short learning module titled ‘What is a capstone?’ was included in the suite of shared learning assets. This short orientation module was designed to help students get the best out of their capstone experience, allowing them to understand the aims of a capstone, how to learn best in a capstone, and to reflect on their current strengths and areas for improvement. The module commenced with a video of former students sharing their perspectives on what differentiates a capstone unit from other units in the degree.
Figure 1. Excerpt from shared learning asset: What is a capstone?
The remaining shared learning assets were developed around the following topics:
- Collaborating with peers
- Preparing for pitching
- Seeing yourself as a professional
- Giving and receiving feedback
- Reflective practice
- Data visualisation
- Research: leveraging business intelligence
While the orienting resource took the form of a brief module containing several pages, the remaining learning assets were typically designed as a single Canvas page with some consistency in page sections and overall format.
Figure 2. Excerpt from the ‘Giving and Receiving Feedback’ module showing video resources offering staff and student perspectives.
The media team played a key role in the production of each of the shared learning assets. They developed some guidelines for the development of any media to be featured in the modules. The involvement of media producers from the outset of the project ensured coherence in the look and feel of all videos across the learning materials, including consistency in the approach to thumbnails, captioning etc.
In conjunction with videos, a variety of learning activities were embedded into the shared assets. These included: self-assessment activities such as checklists, short quizzes, and polls (see Figure 2), and embedded collaborative activities for students to share ideas and perspectives. A number of tools were used in the production of interactive videos and learning activities including: the Canvas LMS, Genial.ly and H5P.
These interactive activities were designed to engage students in critical thinking and reflection and, through the provision of immediate feedback, provide opportunities for them to check their understanding and progress in the topic. Pages typically included an ‘Explore’ section at the end, providing students with further opportunities to explore the topic through various media if they wished.
Figure 3. Poll embedded after a video about online presentations
Learning assets were available to be used and adapted across all newly developed capstone units depending on relevance and designed into the structure of the unit site within the LMS (Canvas) where appropriate. The learning materials were often used to support students in developing the skills they needed to effectively participate in their major group assessment projects and embedded strategically to best support the student learning journey in each unit. Table 1 shows the units utlising each of the shared learning assets.
|What is a Capstone?||QBUSS6600, FINC6600, INFS6600, SIEN6600, ACCT6600|
|Prepare for pitching||INFS6600, SIEN6600, ITLS6600, ACCT6600|
|Seeing yourself as a professional||QBUSS6000, FINC6600, INFS6600, SIEN6600, ITLS6600, ACCT6600|
|Giving and receiving feedback||FINC6600, SIEN6600, ITLS6600, MKTG6600, ACCT6600|
|Reflective practice||FINC6600, SIEN6600, ITLS6600, MKTG6600|
|Research||SIEN6600, ITLS6600, MKTG6600|
|Data visualisation||FINC6600, ITLS6600, ACCT6600|
Table 1. Capstone units utilising each of the shared learning assets.
A survey was conducted in two units asking students about the extent to which they found the shared learning assets useful. In the Strategy, Innovation and Entrepreneurship capstone over 90% of students found the ‘What is a Capstone?’ and Research Skills resources “very helpful” or “somewhat helpful”, and 85% of students found the ‘Pitching to Industry’ resources useful. Resources on ‘Feedback’ and ‘Reflective Practice’ were thought to be “very helpful” or “helpful” by 77% of students. These figures were lower in the Finance capstone, where approximately 65% of students found the ‘What is a Capstone?’, ‘Feedback’ and ‘Reflective practice’ resources “very helpful” or “somewhat helpful”. In a focus group for this unit, students explained how the resources were helpful for specific assignments and provided some structure for their responses (for example, how to structure their feedback to peers). Very few students found the videos “not helpful at all”.
In a focus group of Marketing capstone students, some students felt they had already developed these kinds of skills in other units in their specialisation. They acknowledged that not all students would feel like they were confident with these skills however and agreed that the resources are good to have available for those students. One student made the constructive suggestion that the pitching video could include examples of actual student pitches that are considered excellent.