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How Does SCU Create Online Courses?

14 May 2021

Studying online is a different experience to the traditional classroom environment.

That is why it’s important for SCU Online to create learning environments that empower students to think differently, embrace change and upskill for the future.

To create a rich and rewarding learning environment that reflects the knowledge of our academics, a considered approach to learning design is essential. Learning Designers collaborate with academics to reflect on best practice learning design techniques and evolve our curriculum.

So, what is a Learning Designer and how do they help academics to create the courses that we offer online?

Learning Designers are pedagogic experts with extensive online experience, who help academics with the transition to online learning. They assess the student academic journey, evaluate learning activities and ensure that students have opportunities to achieve the outcomes required. Learning Designers bring evidence-based practices from a departmental, institutional or wider educational sphere to provide insights and fresh perspectives.

Who are the people behind SCU Online?

Dr David Noble is the Associate Dean of Education at Southern Cross University within the Faculty of Business, Law and Arts.

As a highly motivated academic, Dr Noble has significant management experience across the not-for-profit, corporate and tertiary education sectors. He draws on his wealth of experience to collaborate with Learning Designers and build the dynamic online learning environment at SCU.

One of those Learning Designers is Dr Rose Babaee, lead learning designer at SCU Online. She works closely with academics like Dr Noble, coordinators and stakeholders to translate department needs and demands into actionable items. Dr Babaee strives to provide students with the best online learning environment possible and transform them into critical thinkers.

A photo of Dr Rose Babaee, lead Learning Designer at SCU Online

Dr. Rose Babaee is a lead learning designer with Southern Cross University. 

How do these experts collaborate to design SCU’s online courses?

Successful learning design can only happen when academics and Learning Designers work in partnership.

When it comes to building a new unit, an academic and Learning Designer collaborate to write the course materials. This involves workshopping ideas on what students need to be successful and tailoring them to an online environment.

Through this process, Learning Designers try to understand the academic’s teaching philosophy, what their mission is and how it can be added to the course.

Dr Babaee says “We give academics appropriate problems when we brainstorm with them, challenging them to think about how they can be effective and influential as a teacher.”

“We discuss types of technologies that they may want to use to keep their students engaged, so that they can maintain that engagement to have an impact academically and make a change to student’s learning experiences.”

What does it take to create a high-quality online learning experience?

To create an engaging, effective and high-quality online learning experience, it is important to listen to students.

By understanding who the student is, what they want to achieve and what they want to do in the future, Learning Designers can develop their understanding of how to support students throughout their academic studies.

During this process, it is also important to consider the demands of the industry or sector students may work in, and the skills they require.

“We visualise the big picture, which is the learning outcomes for each unit we help to design,” says Dr Babaee.

With the use of student feedback and research, the Learning Design team can make informed decisions about how they design course units and programs. They can use this data to address 21st-century challenges and workloads, providing students with soft skills and foundational knowledge that can be applied in the real world.

An SCU Online Learning Designer writes on a whiteboard and smiles.

How does SCU use student feedback when designing online courses?

Being aware of some of the gaps that can occur in an online learning environment allows SCU to tailor the student experience by listening to student feedback and providing a personalised learning experience. This helps students improve their artistry, occupational literacy and their emotional literacy within their chosen sector. 

Dr Noble explains “In terms of occupational literacy, we ask students to use tools such as a portfolio or a reflective journal. That keeps a record of their student journey, experiences and progress that can also aid in giving us ongoing feedback rather than focusing on the final product.”

“This also gives our students an advantage when they apply for roles as they can showcase their course work to prospective employers.”  

What is unique about online learning with SCU?

Studying online is very different from on-campus courses and students benefit from SCU’s reputation as pioneers in online learning.

The virtual campus experience means engaging with SCU Online’s learning platform, affectionately known as PERCI, where students can interact with one another as well as their lecturer.  

Another key advantage to online learning environments is that you will have on-demand support. This makes study more achievable for individuals balancing work, family and other commitments. Students are supported through interactive discussion boards which allow them to connect with their peers and seek advice from their tutors.

“We find that most of our students have a lot of constraints to their studying times because they are working full-time or have other personal commitments like a family with young children, that can constrict them from finding the time to study on-campus. That is why being able to tailor your study timetable and get questions answered straight away is a huge advantage of an online environment,” says Dr Babaee.

An SCU Online student sits at a desk, studying on his laptop.

Ready to take your career to the next level with SCU Online?

By understanding the process that goes into creating collaborative, high-quality, industry-relevant and supportive online programs at SCU, you can confidently follow your ambition and take the next step in your career.

If you are curious about advancing your career with online postgraduate study, contact our Student Enrolment Advisors on 1300 863 819.