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Redevelopment of a gateway unit of study for the Faculty of Science at the University of Sydney

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The entire education community has felt the pressure of change in the harsh light of the Covid-19 pandemic. Many faculties and schools have and are, facing the need to revisit and revamp existing curricula to translate to entirely online learning spaces.

On the one hand, this has led to an opportunity to improve and update existing learning materials and their delivery. It has on the other, led to risks in maintaining the quality of content and continuing engagement of students in their learning. To ensure the maintenance of high-quality learning that the University of Sydney is globally known for, the Faculty of Science engaged Curio to assist in the redesign of their gateway unit of study for Geography, Environmental Studies and Geology. Curio worked closely with Professor Pauline Ross, Associate Dean (Education), to implement her proposed structured, repeatable, and pedagogically robust conceptual framework for online learning. This framework involved breaking down weekly topical content into five pedagogical components:
  1. A big idea (the hook)
  2. Discovery of key learning concepts
  3. Online and asynchronous practical exercises
  4. Interactive synchronous lectorials
  5. A space for students to consolidate and reflect
Curio provided support to academic teaching staff from the School of Geosciences and the School of Life & Environmental Sciences in the curation of existing and new content to align with the framework. In co-design with the academic staff, Curio developed a range of engaging learning materials including animations, interactive knowledge checks, free-text metacognitive pitstops, as well as effective online social engagement with students through Slack. Curio sought feedback at regular intervals to ensure the academic rigour of learning materials was maintained, and that the flow of those materials within the conceptual framework was consistently geared toward student success. The unit has gone live over the first semester of 2021. Initial signs of student engagement were extremely promising, and we eagerly await the first wash of student and tutor feedback.
about the writer

Matt Riddle

Director of Learning Experiences

Matt Riddle is Principal and Director of Learning Experiences globally at Curio. An expert in educational innovation with a career spanning over 25 years, Matt’s focus is improving learners’ lives using emerging educational technologies and learning space design (physical and virtual). Previous roles include acting Pro Vice- Chancellor and Director of Educational Innovation at La Trobe University, and Research Associate at the Centre for Applied Research in Educational Technologies at the University of Cambridge. Matt is CEO and Founder of RocketShoes, a blockchain edtech startup, and serves on the TEQSA panel of experts on online degrees. As Principal at Curio, Matt is involved leading the learning design and development of new university and online products in partnership with clients including RMIT Online, Curtin University, Edith Cowan University, Heriot-Watt University and Chisholm Online. Located in Utrecht, The Netherlands.Learn more about Matt
Talk to Matt about:
  • Curriculum advice
  • Data, analytics and learning
  • Learning design
  • Learning technologies
  • Online teaching and learning
  • Strategy
  • Subject matter expertise
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