28 July 2010

Great teaching techniques

Every now and then, I'm going to post links to good ideas I've encountered. This week, I have two to pass on.

This week, I came across a link to one Canadian academic's approach to teaching his students to read crtically - something students are often left to work out for themselves. Roland Paris, an academic from the University of Ottawa, uses a simple technique to introduce his students to the idea. His site is worth a visit.

The team behind the Assessment Standards Knowledge exchange (ASKe) team at Oxford Brookes has a fantastic approach to teaching students about assessment standards. It's simple, it's easy ... and the short workshop early in a student's studies seems to result in better marks over the long-term.

If you do try either of these techniques, let me know how you go.

25 July 2010

The Australian National University's YouTube channel

I've just subscribed to The Australian National University's YouTube channel, which gives me access to a whole range of presentations by amazing speakers. I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next.

You can too: http://www.youtube.com/user/ANUchannel#p/a

Videoconferencing on AARNet

This from Campus Review (22 June 2010), p 12 ...

"By the end of this year, Australia's Academic and Research Network (AARNet) plans to launch a free videoconferencing service for students, researchers and academics in Australian universities. Called AARNet Anywhere, it will let users link up to as many as eight people on the AARNet network."

According to the article, AARNet is partnering with ViVu, a US-based company whose system piggybacks on Skype to allow multi-party videonconferencing, allowing up to eight people to participate at a time. They can share slides or other information in a collaboration window.

Sounds fantastic, even it the service will be limited to those of us with access to AARNet.

Is "digital" the right word?

"Imagine you are travelling on a train, say in Australia. Imagine, while on this train, you are on your mobile phone, speaking to a friend. Your friend is travelling on a train also, but this train is travelling between London and Edinburgh. ... Both of you are using laptops, and you're on the web via WiFi, searching for information. Additionally one of you is using Twitter, the other is using Facebook, and you are communicating with other friends, via these, in the US and China." The writer says that such train questions often end, jokingly, with a question about which way the smoke is blowing. (Harper, 2010)

My question would be: "Which way is the wind blowing?" It could easily be argued that Australian universities, by and large, don't know.

In a short piece in a recent Campus Review, Harper discusses the implications of the evolution of digital technologies for universities – for the ways our institutions use, develop, and analyse them. He says that if universities are to maintain relevance in the contemporary world, they must lead the way in exploring the uses of the technologies. He isn't writing about the conversations I encounter most of the time – you know, the ones that focus on whether it would be better for academics to use an LMS or a blog or how you make students take part in online discussions about course content or whether it is fair to all students to set group assignments. He is writing about the need for universities to start taking communication technologies seriously, to embrace the opportunities they provide for new ways of collaboration and learning, and to design curriculum that advances our understanding of how these technologies have and will affect our worlds.

First of all, he says, we should stop talking about "digital" technologies and start talking about "synaptic technological use". He writes: "In essence, contemporary technologies are synaptic; meaning they are technologies of flow, of bringing together, of transmission, exchange, networking, of social, financial, political, cultural and personal activity. The experience-focus of these technologies has long superseded any logical reason for a continued reference to the digital. And yet, in universities this reference continues to be widespread, as if we have entirely failed to grasp the size and complexity of the changes that have been occurring in the world around us."

Makes sense to me.


Harper. G. (2010). Digital is dead: synaptic technologies rule. Campus Review, 22 June 2010, 20(12), 13.

24 July 2010

Learning how to teach at university

Last week I spent the evening at a local tutors’ induction evening. It was a pretty simple affair: a presentation by one of our lecturers – The First Tutorial, a presentation from the head of the academic skills unit – Diversity, and a panel discussion.

The tutors came in nervous and left full of confidence, so we’ve found the right mix … just enough information to get them started, but not so much that they feel overwhelmed. Most of those who attended will work very closely with their course convenors, who will plan the tutorials and give the new tutors solutions to the worked examples that usually take up most of the time in tutorials in my part of the University. Those who will be facilitating discussions for the first time will get an extra bit of help.

I should be pleased, but I’m not.

It really bothers me that there is an expectation in many institutions that it is possible to learn how to be a good university teacher on the job.

Most of those who take their PhD from the University I currently work in go on to careers in academia. In recent years, the University has introduced a program that gives them some idea about how to teach, but there are still some who slip through with only a tutors’ induction evening and a bit of part-time tutoring or lecturing to prepare them for a career that will probably include teaching and committee work as well as the research for which they have been well-trained. Universities in Australia generally don’t require their new recruits to have a teaching qualification.

Surely this isn’t good enough.

Perhaps the new quality agency – the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency – will work with DEEWR to change this situation. I hope so – our students deserve teachers who know how to do their job properly. That calls for more than content knowledge.

18 July 2010

The tribe of the invisible mender

What is it that educational designers (or educational developers or instructional designers) do, exactly? When I am asked, I say that I assist my academic colleagues when they are designing curriculum or preparing to teach – and most people seem to be happy with that answer. Whether they picture me doing the tasks I actually do or not is another matter.

In the abstract for a paper that explores Canadian "instructional designers' stories of practice ... using four lenses: reflexivity, voice, strong objectivity, and power / authority", Campbell et al, wrote "Instructional designers regularly engage in a process of professional and personal transformation that has the potential to transform the culture of institutions through faculty-client relationships. Instructional designers promote new ideas and understandings in social contexts that include other designers and clients, among others". They frame educational design as "an active practice based on community, practical reasoning, personal perspective, and semantic innovation involving memory and leading to action" (Campbell et al, 2006, pp 1-2, 15).

This picture of the work of the tribe resonates with me (fluffy in wording as the description is), because it is difficult to identify exactly the contribution made by the tribe. The skills, knowledge and expertise brought to the task by my colleagues are amazingly varied.

Figure 1: Finding a place as an educational designer

Most of us have expertise in both educational technologies and theories of curriculum design and teaching in higher education. I sit about where the orange cross is in Figure 1, but I would be surprised if anyone else working in my institution as an educational designer would put themselves in precisely the same spot. If I were to cast the net wider and include more of the tribe from around the world, the diversity of practice would be even more obvious.

There is, however, another important dimension to this discussion. The educational designer, as a member of a team designing curriculum, must participate fully; he or she generally brings to the task a body of knowledge unknown to, or at least less-well known by, the academic teachers in the team. However, it is essential that the academic manager of the course (the lecturer in charge or the course convenor) never loses any of his or her sense of ownership of the curriculum.

You could say that we are like book editors. Pam Peters, of Macquarie University, once said in an address to the Canberra Society of Editors that a good editor is like an invisible mender: the better the editor is at the job, the less obvious the editor's contribution to the project. No one ever expects the editor's name to go on a book cover. For the same reasons, educational designers should remain in the background. Students don't need to know which courses have been influenced by the contributions of educational designers.

That model works beautifully so long as someone senior in the system knows the value of the contributions by educational designers and editors. Sometimes writers and lecturers do realise that the work with their name on it is much better because of the contributions of these people, but they can't be counted on to remember it. Ideally, the work of my tribe will be championed by someone quite senior who builds a consultation session into the approvals process, so that it becomes accepted university practice.

It would be even better if there were opportunities to match the strengths of individual educational designers to particular curriculum design / enhancement projects. Often the professional goals and the approaches and practices of particular educational designers diverge dramatically from those of the academics with whom they are working. Educational designers themselves are varied in background, approach, inclination, temperament and any number of other attributes. However, in this institution at least, the educational designers are "embedded" in selected academic organizational units. Academics in those units get one type of assistance only. It would be much better if we had an arrangement where the pairing of academic and educational designer were more considered.

On the other hand, academics are like novelists in other ways too: they will accept advice only from those they trust. They are more likely to accept advice from their local educational designer than from an unfamiliar person. It would be difficult for each educational designer to know as much as the group about every aspect of the work in a particular institution – for example, as much about graphic and web design as they do about models of curriculum, as much about social networking tools as they do about Learning Management Systems, or as much about the characteristics of undergraduate students in science as they do about graduate coursework students in philosophy.

Perhaps the best we can hope for is that each institution builds an educational design team that includes people with a range of interests and expertise, and makes sure that they know each other's strengths. That way, at least we can call on each other for help. That, combined with an institutional policy that every academic curriculum designer is expected to have consulted his or her local educational designer, might do it.

Or would it?

Campbell, K, Schwier, R. A. & Kenny, R. F. (2006). Conversation as inquiry: a conversation with instructional designers. Journal of Learning Design, 1(3), 1-18.

15 July 2010

What is an educational designer, anyway?

I'm working on a post that puts my thoughts about this into some vaguely coherent form, but what do you think? If you type your answer in, we'll end up with a tag cloud ... a lovely little online activity to end the work week. (Answer Garden, the tool I used, is a bit like a collaborative version of Wordle.)

What is an educational designer, anyway?... at AnswerGarden.ch.

13 July 2010

Phases of assessment

Australian university students complain repeatedly about the quality and timeliness of the feedback they receive, and yet academic teachers know that not all of their students take the time to read and reflect on the feedback that is provided. Increasingly, those researching the role of assessment in higher education are seeing it as a lever for change in curriculum design practice, for more productive and focussed student learning, and as a tool to build on support mechanisms, particularly for first year students.

Sally Kift, in her recent presentation at the University, drew our attention to an article by Janet Taylor, in which she outlines a model for assessment design that addresses six important aspects.

Taylor (2008) says that an assessment strategy must:

1. include both formative and summative items,

2. assist students to negotiate and access the culture of the university,

3. meet student needs in terms of timing of deadlines,

4. ensure that students get good feedback as early as possible,

5. assist students to develop "self-regulatory" behaviours, and

6. avoid unreasonable workloads for both staff and students.
Her model divides the study session into three overlapping phases:

Phase 1, at the beginning of the study session (e.g. weeks 1-4 in a 13 week session), is when students complete assessment for transition activities: low contribution to final grades, low to no marking involved – reflective activities like study plans and learning contracts.

In weeks 3-9, students complete assessment for development activities, characterised by items that carry marks that make a low to middle contribution to the final grade, but provide extensive feedback, e.g. draft essays, reading logs, notes on a literature review, or materials prepared as part of a portfolio. Time allocated to marking on the part of the academic should be, Taylor says, "relatively high".

The final phase (weeks 7-13), assessment for achievement, is characterised by summative activities with a high weighting – that is, they have a relatively high influence on the final grade, e.g. examinations, final reports or essays or portfolios.

adapted from Figure 1: Strategies for assessment (Taylor, 2008)

Taylor says that assessment tasks in the first phase should require little marking time, but allow staff to identify students who might struggle. The activities that fall in the assessment for development group are the core of any first year course. "Once engagement is established by the early assessments, the task of the middle assessments is to maintain the engagement and develop and confirm students' skills and knowledge". (Taylor, 2008) The assessment activities in the final phase carry most weight towards the final mark, but are generally submitted too late to be of any real use to the student looking for guidance, so feedback can be kept to a minimum. Her argument is that the earlier an assessment item is due, the more feedback it should provide and the less weight it should carry in the overall, final mark.

It's worth reading the whole article; the model is useful for anyone designing an assessment strategy, not only those concerned with the first year experience.

Taylor, J. A. (2008). Assessment in First Year University: A model to manage transition. Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice. 5(1), Article 3. http://ro.uow.edu.au/jutlp.

Evolving teaching practice in universities

This week I attended two excellent, if poorly attended, staff development activities arranged by the University. In the first, Vicky Minderhout (Seattle University) and Dan Bedgood (Charles Sturt University) collaborated on a workshop that was advertised as teaching large classes. They took the group through Minderhout’s Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) model, which has its roots in small group discovery learning.

To quote from her materials:

“A POGIL classroom or laboratory consists of students working in small groups on specially designed guided inquiry materials. These materials supply students with data or information to interpret followed by guiding questions designed to lead them toward formulation of their own valid conclusions – essentially a recapitulation of the scientific method. The instructor serves as facilitator, observing and periodically addressing individual and classroom-wide needs.”

The real power of the model became clear as Dr Minderhout modelled her technique with the group. Her classroom is highly managed and time-on-task is structured and focussed.

The second event, a presentation and workshop run by Professor Sally Kift, advertised as focussing on the First Year Experience, also worked its way towards a discussion of good curriculum design. Kift has spent some time in her own institution working to ensure that her colleagues understand curriculum as widely as possible. She gave us the definition used by her institution, QUT:

“Curriculum [is] far more than a list of content to be mastered, or a list of units in sequence. It is a learning environment: a planned arrangement of space, time, resources, people and ideas.”

Both events were outstanding: master classes in good teaching technique and practice, clearly grounded in the research that supports the practice of all good curriculum designers. Kift, in particular, gave us a walk through her own evolution as a university teacher, and give us an insight into her current work as the ALTC Discipline Scholar for Law, developing the Threshold Learning Outcomes that will be used by the new quality agency – TEQSA – to assess standards.

Sadly, almost no one from my own institution attended either session, and those who did attend are already excellent, innovative teachers or members of my tribe – the educational designers of the University . We are already familiar with the issues, the practices, the literature, and the research. It’s always great to review materials, and to get someone else’s take on the body of knowledge ... but ... why aren’t my academic colleagues from the disciplines attending in greater numbers?

One of Tony Bates’ posts gives us a possible answer.

He reported this week on two articles that deal with the implementation of educational technologies, and barriers to change that might (could? ought to?) come about as the result of the benefits afforded by a range of technologies.

He writes:

“There is an increasing awareness that for technology to be used effectively, there [have] to be changes in the way people work. This ‘truth’ is only slowly penetrating the post-secondary education sector.”

For a long time, members of my tribe – the educational designers – thought that if we told our academic colleagues that we were implementing educational technology, we would be able to smuggle in a few ideas about good curriculum design and improved university teaching. Some of my current colleagues still talk about using the introduction of a new Learning Management System (LMS) as a Trojan horse. I think this is a complete furphy: if we tell our highly intelligent, time-poor academic colleagues that we are talking about the technology, they believe us. I believe that we need to be a little more respectful ... but also a little more demanding.

Bates concludes this post with two points. He chastises those academic staff members who put their own careers above change that will benefit students and the sector, and puts his opinion that institutional change will be impossible without improvements in the governance of universities. He calls for more effective leadership, more training in change management, and academic career incentives that reward innovative teaching.

There is a strong feeling among many working in the sector that a large proportion of Australian universities are too focussed on research at the expense of teaching. This would come as a surprise to the average Australian saving up to send his or her children to university. The average Australian thinks that the main purpose of the higher education sector is to educate future generations, to provide them with the knowledge, the skills, the expertise and the qualifications that will give them a leg up in the employment market.

Of course it is a little more complex than that. For me, universities are learning organizations, where the community (staff, students, and other interested participants) construct, share, and acquire knowledge. Some in the community are expert, some are novice – all are learners, whether they are crusty old researchers on the point of retirement or first year undergraduates right out of secondary school. Not everyone perceives universities in the same way, though. For too many of my academic colleagues, they are the ones who know how to “do” university work (so why should they change?), and their students and the general / professional staff of the university do not.

That, I think, is why change in universities is so difficult.

If we could re-conceptualize the university as a place where all are learners, it might be easier to bring about evolution in the way university academics approach their curriculum design and teaching practice.

07 July 2010

The LMS Wars

(or how I first came to comment on a blog posting)

Why have so many universities across the English-speaking world signed up to use Moodle as their Learning Management System (LMS)? The short answer, in my view, is that Blackboard broke trust with the academic community by claiming to have invented the LMS, and in doing so, damaged the reputation of all vendor-supported LMSs. Many in the academic community, now mistrustful of proprietary products, have elected to use open source products – Moodle and Sakai – because they feel that they have greater control over them ... and therefore over their teaching materials, curriculum, and the learning environments they create with their students.

How did this come to be? Before I get to the actual dastardly deeds, let me review a bit of history.

As soon as the Web was invented in about 1990, educators were harnessing it to facilitate online learning in various ways. Wikipedia has an extensive entry on the history of virtual learning environments for those really interested in the detail. Initially, it was mainly those with technical skills who were teaching online.

In the mid-1990s, something remarkable happened: a computer science academic from the University of British Columbia (UBC), Murray Goldberg – along with his colleague Sasan Salari and a bunch of graduate students – invented the first real LMS, which he named WebCT. At first, he gave it away to anyone who asked. Once he started getting requests from countries outside north America, Goldberg and his employer (UBC) created a company to manage the product and introduced a licensing fee. By late 1999, this company had been acquired by Universal Learning Technologies. Goldberg and his associates went on to other projects. This change in ownership was announced at the second International Conference for WebCT users in Athens, Georgia. At the first international conference, in 1999 in Vancouver, Goldberg was constantly surrounded by a group of his graduate students wearing Teva sandals and WebCT T-shirts with their email addresses embroidered on their sleeves; we attended a salmon barbecue on the beach and drank beer. At the Athens conference the next year, Carole Vallone emerged dressed as Cruella De Vil and told us how she was developing a range of WebCT-related income streams so she wouldn't have to increase the price of the WebCT LMS licence fee. We nearly believed her, but change was in the air.

Nevertheless, WebCT was the first of the online learning software products that provided the three sets of tools that still characterise the true higher education LMS: tools of administration (e.g. integration with other enterprise systems, tracking and monitoring, gradebook), tools of dissemination (e.g. links to document files, slides, audio and video clips, websites), and tools of collaboration (e.g. discussion boards, social networking lookalikes). WebCT made it easy for anyone to teach online, and it made it much easier for institutions to ensure that only enrolled students had access to the online learning environment, by allowing them to build integrations with their student records systems.

As an aside: there are similar LMS products that have been developed for the training and development market, but these are significantly different from those developed for the higher education market. The Catalyst Interactive product is an example.

WebCT dominated the English-speaking market, followed by Blackboard, followed – much further behind – by a whole pack of smaller emerging or evolving companies. By this stage, Blackboard had established a strategy of buying up these smaller companies. It seemed that they did this whenever they spotted one that had developed functionality missing in their own product, or whenever it looked as if one was emerging as a threat to their market share.

Around this time (2000), a Perth-based PhD student called Martin Dougiamas began work on the first open-source LMS – Moodle. The second open-source LMS, Sakai (named for some mysterious reason after the Iron Chef), was developed by a consortium of American universities – Michigan, Indiana, MIT, and Stanford. Sakai hit the market in 2004.

In 2006, Blackboard bought its biggest rival, WebCT. It now offered a suite of LMS products, including various iterations of WebCT and its own product, and dominated the market. Its closest rival was the emerging Canadian company, Desire2Learn, established in 1999. Blackboard reportedly tried to buy Desire2Learn, but the overtures were spurned.

Then came the bombshell: sometime in late 2005 or early 2006, Blackboard patented the LMS in several jurisdictions, including the USA and Australia. The patent documents listed some incongruous people as the inventors, including Matthew Small, Blackboard's in-house lawyer.

This came to the attention of most of the educational technology, LMS-using community in mid-2006. I read about it on Michael Feldstein's blog, e-Literate, and made my first comment on a blog in July 2006.

Very quickly, Blackboard sued Desire2Learn in a West Texas court for infringement of this patent – in short, for selling the Desire2Learn LMS in US markets. Thus began the LMS wars.

I won't go into the detail of the battle (which is not yet completely over). If you are interested, trawl through Feldstein's blog, using "edupatent" as your search term. As far as I can tell, John Baker, the CEO of Desire2Learn, has shown a much greater commitment to the ideals of education and to the educational community than his counterparts at Blackboard. It would have made much more financial sense for him to agree to a royalty payment early on. He didn't. He has challenged Blackboard's claim to have invented the LMS at considerable cost.

In quick succession, Desire2Learn was found to be in breach of the patent and ordered to pay royalties of $US 3 million, the sue-appeal-sue-appeal legal dance began, Desire2Learn and others asked for a review of the US patent, and the LMS-using community created a Wikipedia site listing all the "prior art" that demonstrates clearly to me that Blackboard's claim to have invented the LMS is at best dubious.

Importantly, those institutions that were looking to upgrade or replace their LMS turned in droves to the open-source LMSs – my last two employers included.

Since then, things have calmed down quite a lot. The US Patents Office has revised – somewhat – its original decision. Blackboard and Desire2Learn have come to an agreement of some kind. Blackboard apparently returned the original payment of $US 3 million + interest. It is rumoured that their profits in the year that they returned that payment were significantly less than the money they handed over to Desire2Learn. The extensive documentation about the patent and the legal battle on the Desire2Learn website has either been removed (as part of the agreement with Blackboard?) or hidden behind a password I don't have.

Who has suffered most as a result of this debacle? In general, it's the whole of higher education. In particular, it's time-poor students who now rely on the online learning environments that have become essential to the efficient and effective operation of higher education.

As far as I can see, the only good thing to have emerged from this situation is that Desire2Learn still exists, its market share continues to grow, and it continues to offer a strong viable alternative in the vendor-supported LMS market. Because Desire2Learn stood up to Blackboard, other smaller vendors – the Australian company Janison among them – are less likely to suffer the same fate. Blackboard may stand by its agreement not to sue those involved with the open-source LMS products – time will tell.

And for those of us working in the institutions that adopted Moodle? Well, Moodle is a perfectly acceptable LMS in many ways, particularly for those institutions that deliver the bulk of their programs in a face-to-face mode. It is great for the cottage industry, bespoke learning environments that get bolted on to existing traditionally-delivered programs or created to service small operations. I don't think it works well for large distance education systems or institutions committed to a fully-flexible operation – at least, not without considerable in-house programming and super-technical support.

Following last year's Moodleposium in Canberra, someone asked me what I thought of the event. "I felt as if I travelled there in a time machine," I said. The only thing missing was the pack of acolytes in their email-embroidered T-shirts.

01 July 2010

The Bones Model: the basics of curriculum design

In the last couple of years, I've been working with university teachers, usually when they are in the process of designing or re-designing courses. By courses, I mean the bits that make up a university degree - units or subjects.

I found myself sketching the same diagram over and over again to illustrate the relationships that ought to exist between the key elements in any curriculum: course content, program aims and objectives, course learning outcomes, teaching and learning activities, assessment, and graduate attributes (or, if you prefer, capabilities and qualities).

Those of you familiar with John Biggs' work will see immediately that my sketch didn't arrive in my mind out of thin air - it draws on the diagram on page 59 of the third edition of his book. More recently, it occurred to me that I needed to include evaluation. So here's an extract from a short paper I put together recently, outlining some of the thinking behind the model ...


Biggs and Tang discuss two kinds of knowledge (declarative and functioning) in detail. Declarative knowledge, they tell us, is propositional knowledge: knowing about or knowing what. "Such content knowledge accrues from research, not from personal experience. It is public knowledge ... verifiable, replicable, and logically consistent". Functioning knowledge, on the other hand, is "based on the idea of performances of various kinds, underpinned by understanding". (Biggs & Tang, 2007, p 72) These concepts were key to the development of the Bones Model, as was Biggs' notion of alignment. Biggs describes reflecting on the success of his initial experimentation with portfolio assessment, and deciding that "it was because the learning activities addressed in the intended outcomes were mirrored in both the teaching/learning activities the students undertook and in the assessment tasks" (Biggs & Tang, 2007, p 52). Many academics, schooled by their research training to focus first on declarative knowledge, put the content of a new or revised course at the heart of their approach to curriculum design. Educational designers, on the other hand, are more likely to focus on the changes engendered in students as a result of the learning experience they have undergone. That is, changes in the way students view the world, improvements to their skills and expertise, or alterations in their behaviour. Both aspects of curriculum design are important.

Figure 1: The Bones Model: the essentials of curriculum design

The strength of the Bones Model is that the educational designer starting a new project is able to open the conversation with any aspect of curriculum design. A teaching academic is able to focus first on the issue of most immediate concern and move into a discussion that cycles through the other elements of the Model. Links between the different aspects can be clearly explained, and the designer can bring to the conversation research relevant to any aspect of curriculum design, at the most appropriate moment. If, for instance, it appeared likely that the academic concerned were trying to cover too much content, the designer could introduce a discussion about threshold concepts (Meyer & Land, 2006). If the discussion focused first on educational technologies and learning activities, the designer could, for example, elicit the academic's intentions for formative assessment strategies and recommend the most appropriate technology for the planned teaching and learning activity. If the conversation were about a new course to be introduced to an existing program, the designer and the academic are able to focus on the ways in which the new course assists students to achieve program goals and objectives and contributes to the maturation of graduate capabilities. With the Bones Model providing a touchstone for the conversation, both designer and academic continually assess the course from the perspectives of integration and alignment through successive iterations of development.

Working with the Bones Model, the curriculum design team addresses a range of questions.

Course Content: What information needs to be covered in the course? What are the sources of this information, e.g. published and grey research, review literature, websites, audio-visual material? How can the information be most authentic, e.g. case studies, current research findings from lecturer or colleagues, real-life projects?

Program Aims, Goals, Objectives: Program learning outcomes provide the touchstone for all course learning outcomes, especially for core courses. These are the goals for the whole Program. How do Program Aims mesh with the Australian Qualifications Framework descriptors?

Course-level Intended Learning Outcomes: "On satisfying the requirements for this course, students will be able to …" How do course-level learning outcomes link to graduate capabilities and qualities? How do Course-level Intended Learning Outcomes mesh with the locally-developed Discipline-specific Core Learning Outcomes and ALTC Threshold Learning Outcomes?

Teaching & Learning Activities: Where and when will students be learning? What learning activities, processes and events will be most effective and efficient in giving students the necessary learning experiences to absorb the course content, apply their newly-acquired declarative knowledge, complete activities that demonstrate their functioning knowledge, and achieve the course outcomes? These are the learning activities that occur throughout the semester: group activities, field trips, laboratory work, online learning activities, etc.

Assessment: What kinds of assessment will provide authentic measures of how well the student has achieved the course learning outcomes? What kinds of assessment will demonstrate that students are able to apply declarative knowledge in completing activities that test functioning knowledge? What are the relevant marking criteria and how do these reflect commonly understood standards – for program, course, discipline, profession, College or Faculty, and university?

Graduate Attributes, Capabilities, Qualities: What will graduates be like? What will they be able to do? What skills and expertise will they be able to list on their résumé?

Evaluation: How and when will the program / course be reviewed or evaluated? What will it be judged against? What moderation processes are in place? When is feedback sought from students? How do student comments inform the evolution of the curriculum?

Those using the Bones Model are not locked into a rigid linear process with a fixed starting point; rather, the Model facilitates an authentic iterative process while ensuring that all elements of curriculum design are addressed.

Meyer, J. H. F., and Land, R. (2006). Overcoming barriers to student understanding: Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge. RoutledgeFalmer: London.

Biggs, J., & Tang, C. (2007). Teaching for quality learning at university, 3rd edn. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Veness, D. (2010). 'As simple as possible': the bones of curriculum design. 2010 ASCILITE conference - curriculum, technology & and transformation for an unknown future. 5-8 December 2010, Brighton Beach, Sydney, Australia. Retrieved 17 February 2012 from http://ascilite.org.au/conferences/sydney10/Ascilite%20conference%20proceedings%202010/Veness-concise.pdf.