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Creation and adoption: Creating Course Content: Enhancing the Student Learning Experience without Overloading Academics -- 36 -- Short (oral) Paper

11:30 - 12:30 on Tuesday, 11 September 2012 in 2.218

A 2011 student survey at the University of Exeter revealed an interesting problem. Whilst student satisfaction with the virtual learning environment was very high, there were notable comments in the survey data around the desire to revieve more high quality media rich online learning resources. The University in it's TEL strategy (Exeter, 2010) as two aims which include:

  • Create a culture of sharing and reusing quality content
  • Promote innovation and creativity in the use of technology enhanced learning to enhance the curriculum

To address these aims and the student feedback funding was secured for four staff within the existing e-learning team whose role is to enhance the undergraduate experience of online learning across the institution. Curriculum enhancement work had already been started and a model based loosely on the 3E model of Enhance, Extend, Empower (Smyth 2007) had been adopted.

Enhancement of the VLE platform, and Extending the capabilities and skills of staff was already taking place through existing projects and embedding the TEL strategy, the aim of the new team was to Empower staff to create high quality, media rich materials.

The challenge for the team was how to improve and enhance the student learning experience in such a way that was cost-effective, sustainable and had sufficient economies of scale to permit development across over 2000 existing undergraduate modules.

A number of interlinking activities have taken place over the past year to support the planned curriculum enhancement:

  1. The appointment of the core central team (Exeter Online Learning) charged with creating high quality multimedia learning objects.
  2. Investment in a training and support infrastructure to enable academics to create their own multimedia learning objects using a defined “toolkit” of open source or free authoring resources, supported by the central team.
  3. The purchase of 10 “surface tables” in a £250k initiative designed to extend the range of teaching and learning opportunities using digital media in face to face delivery.


  • By March 2012, only sixth months after the establishment of the Exeter Online Learning Team, over 30 modules have detailed designs for over 200 learning objects. Already a number of learning objects are deployed for student use students and they have yielded positive feedback. One academic commented:
  • "The students have been really impressed with the videos and have commented positively on this particular way of using ELE to deliver learning content.”

  • By September 2012, the team will have made available an instance of XERTE (University of Nottingham/ JISC) to further extend academic staff engagement in the creation of media-rich learning materials. Pilot testing of the XERTE toolkit and focus group evaluations have been undertaken with strong evidence of an improved learning experience for students.
  • With the launch of the Forum (a new innovative learning and social space) the surface table initiative has 50 academics timetabled for 30 hour per week in the surface table suite. This serves over 2000 students per annum using a curriculum enriched by multimedia learning objects generated by the central team or by academic staff.
  • Engaging academics can only prove fruitful if there is a commitment to relieve them of significant workload. The model for development of multimedia learning objects by a central team has proved to be scalable and the process efficient – but it is costly. 360 credits worth of learning objects is approximately £120,000 per annum. Clearly, the scale of investment required to significantly enhance the quality of all modules in the VLE, using a central team, may be prohibitive. Therefore, the XERTE “toolkit” strategy of providing the resources, training and support for the academic community, linked to the use of surface tables as a key medium for their development, is pivotal to significantly enhancing the student experience without adding an excessive workload to academic staff.


    Saturday, 8 September 2012, 11:06

    Tuesday, 11 September 2012, 10:11

    Liz Bennett will post ppt file as soon as I have access

    Tuesday, 11 September 2012, 10:13