In one of of our stories from the front line blogging project around the five main chapters from E-Tivities 2nd edition- Now AVAILABLE, we have Associate Professor Shirley Reushle, with her generous insights into the experience of using the Carpe Diem Process for designing e-tivities and online courses. We thank Shirley for her time and helpful insights, and as our last guest blogger of this project.
Associate Professor Shirley Reushle
University of Southern Queensland (USQ)
Australian Digital Futures Institute
Connect with Shirley (links embedded):
LinkedIn: Shirley Reushle
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your relationship to e-tivities:
Shirley is the Associate Director of USQ’s Australian Digital Futures Institute, a research and innovation institute. Her discipline is education with a particular focus on online learning and teaching. She has taught online in Higher Education for over fifteen years and her doctoral research was in transformative approaches to professional development for online educators. She regularly consults in designing and facilitating online learning and has authored articles on the future of Higher Education, transformative learning, online learning design and the creation and evaluation of learning spaces. Shirley is working to further her research and the concept of “taking people into the future and making it real”. This is being done through a focused exploration of the impact on learning of highly interactive digital communities and the spaces those communities inhabit. She also plans to extend the research work she has already conducted in transformative learning theory.
Interview Questions: Carpe Diem- A team based Approach to Designing e-Tivities and Online Courses- Experiences, Reflections, Examples ETC for Carpe Diems
1. Tell us about your first experience with Carpe Diems and how you came to be involved with using them?
I first became involved with the Carpe Diem process when Gilly Salmon joined us as the Executive Director, Australian Digital Futures Institute at the University of Southern Queensland in 2011. I was already familiar with her 5-stage model having referred to it in my doctoral work and used it extensively in my postgraduate online teachingI had worked as a learning designer and faculty member for 20 years and had taught online for 15 years so had significant experience in the online design field. I was curious and excited to learn more about this “rapid prototyping” approach to course design.
I used the carpe diem process to support the redesign of a first year undergraduate course which is offered each year to over 500 students. Its primary objective is to develop students’ literacies and skills they need to succeed as learners in their higher education studies and as nursing professionals. The course had been offered on campus and then was moved online. The process provided the course leaders with a very do-able process to convert an on-campus course to a fully online course with inbuilt peer support in a number of areas across disciplines and with ICT and the Library.
2. What are the benefits to utilising a Carpe Diem approach to learning design?
The Carpe Diem process provides a structured framework for course teams to understand, design, develop and implement e-learning designs. It provides ways of exploring a variety of e-resources and low-cost, high-impact technologies, with practical support to deliver the course in an online environment.
Carpe Diem strongly supports and reflects the idea of constructive alignment (Biggs, 1999), the essence being a focus on the desired learning outcomes, the teaching and learning methods appropriate to achieve those outcomes and the selection of appropriate assessment tasks to determine if the outcomes match those that are intended or desire. The storyboard process of Carpe Diem helps shift the focus away from course content and towards students’ learning outcomes. E-tivities, scaffolded using the 5-stage model, closely align to assessment strategies.
Students’ forum posts, embedded as formative assessment in the e-tivities and in the formal assessment, ensure that student feedback and opinion are integral parts of course design. The reflective components of the assessment also contribute feedback about the online processes involved. What did emerge from a student evaluation of the course was that students who bypassed the e-tivities failed or just passed the assessment. One student acknowledged that when it came time for the assessment, she thought she would be fine and that missing a few activities would not be a big deal. She did however find that as she got deeper into the assessment, she found it harder and harder and that she regretted not engaging with the e-tivities.
3. What challenges have you experienced using Carpe Diems and what advice would you give to others in order to overcome this?
The journey of carpe diem, its development, theoretical basis need to be completed as a whole for the full purpose and impact to be realised. I found that this was too restrictive for the contexts within which I applied the process and I did make some adaptations accordingly. I would recommend you work to adapt to your own institutional situations.
4. What (if any) unexpected outcomes (positive/negative) have you had with the Carpe Diem process in your learning design, courses, faculty relationships, or university culture have you experienced?
The team culture that developed over the short period of the Carpe Diem intense planning and development process has extended far beyond the course design period. In fact, two colleagues who I met for the first time when I facilitated the Carpe Diem in 2011 have continued to be close, supportive colleagues of mine two years’ later. Taking two consecutive days out of our normal routine and coming together to create coursework from the ground up creates a sense of camaraderie and common purpose that can be lost in the general day to day work of academia.
Additionally, the input from staff from various disciplines and support contexts (Library, ICT) means that the course ultimately has a broader outlook than was possibly originally envisaged. It was evident that participants learned new things from the other team members, and discovered new approaches that they may not have considered before.
From a professional development point of view, the process helps to develop new skill sets, and often reinvigorates interest in course development and facilitation.
5. Do you have any specific tips or hints for developing good Carpe Diem practices or advice for Carpe Diem facilitators you would like to share?
In comparing a number of experiences I have had with the Carpe Diem process, I believe it is critical that the initial and the follow-up meetings be conducted firstly to orientate the design team and then to ensure there is time for reflection and planning for follow up action.
6. What reflections do you have on your thoughts of the future of processes like Carpe Diems and their role in the future of learning and teaching?
In an evaluation conducted with one group of Carpe Diem participants, a teacher noted that he saw Carpe Diem’s potential as a tool to make courses innovative, fresh and exciting. By creating a course that is driven by e-tivities, the teacher can change each class at the last minute, so that it is catering directly to the students who are currently enrolled, thus creating a course that is dynamic and student-focussed.
Biggs, J. (1999). Teaching for Quality at University. Berkshire: SRHE and Open University Press.