TRANSCRIPT: DeakinDesign Principle: Course-wide
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Professor James Armitage: yeah so I’m in James Armitage on the Optometry course director and I’ve been in the role since around 2016. I’m a Professor of Optometry I’m also really interested in vision science and I coordinate the team that drives the first year and a half of the Bachelor of Vision Science Program. I also have a real interest in the way that we can improve the way we teach our students, so that the learning that they’re getting what they want and that it fits into a really busy schedule. Optometry is a a busy course and I get that and we’re trying to find new ways to try and I guess in it we’re trying to find new ways to cater for the complex lives that our students leave but still allow them to make the competencies that they need in order to graduate and be effective professionals.
Our course is was designed before I got here, actually, it was designed by a team, including Alex Gentle who’s now our School Associate Head of Teaching and Learning, but the way he designed and the team designed the course was for it to be a spiralling curriculum integrating a Bachelor’s of Vision Science and a Master of Optometry and the spiral curriculum and with reverse designed from the competency framework that our Optometry Australia provides for us and our accreditor, The Optometry Council of Australia, New Zealand and effectively credits our course again so we’ve got a really structured course and and therefore we’ve sort of plans teaching and learning activities that spanned from first year out to fourth year and into the Masters. We try not to think too much in units at the moment, we do have to think about the different units that we’re teaching, because you know that’s the way assessment policy runs and that’s the way students and kind of think I’ll pass this unit, and then we move to the next, but in our brain, this is a comprehensive program of learning that starts on day one of first year and is mapped all the way out to you know they end of fourth you know and so as we’re making changes to the course and we’re really interested actually in driving a change into programmatic assessment so that we can break away from our past, you know the ology biology, you know anatomy physiology unit, and therefore I don’t need to think about that anymore, in fact, what we’re saying is it’s great the knowledge that you’ve learned in physiology now will allow you to participate in the problem based learning assessments and design of the course you know coming forward and what we’re saying is we’ve designed a course that is programmatic so we’d really like to change it into a an assessed programmatic course and that’s something that we were working with the Deakin design team.
The curriculum in the framework was mapped as a spiralling curriculum. We use a lot of problem based learning for five trimesters in the middle of the degree and the team has effectively as we iterate and through the program we said, our there’s a there’s a hole you know, in our student’s ability to communicate with their patients clinically. Maybe, and that that really comes out in fourth year and, but you don’t wait till fourth year to take teach that curriculum and so we’ve had a fantastic group who’s worked on embedding a curriculum framework that begins in first year and carries all the way through into fourth year and another example of that is that we were recently provided two years ago we were provided with a framework for culturally safe practice and Indigenous health training and again, rather than thinking about our what’s the Indigenous health unit we’re working with a School of Medicine’s Indigenous health team to again go back to first year and embed the basic principles and the the first year appropriate learnings in first year and then to cascade and spiral that curriculum out through second, third and into fourth year so effectively everything we do use across the program and what that means is that, when we try and build something we don’t try and build it for a particular unit, we try and think about well how do we capture the true competency that the student needs to show by the end of the degree and where do we, where do we place it within the curriculum. And we’ve done that for clinical skills, we’ve done that for diagnostic thinking. Effectively every part of being an optometrist. We map out from the foundational stuff in first year into knowledge acquisition and practicing in second and third years and then showing that competency in third and fourth year.
The challenge is that when we build something new, say, if we take communication, for instance it’s it’s about saying right, well, we have a busy curriculum. And we have a busy students are really busy but we’re working very hard and we can’t drop something else out because to replace it with this communication, we now need to find a way to embed this communication framework into their learning and so that as they’re practicing perhaps a new technique we’re also teaching them the communication, how they would explain it to a patient, how they would get consent from their patient at the same time as they’re learning to do that technique and at the same time we’re teaching them how to interpret the results from that technique. So that I guess the biggest challenge with that is we’re working across lots of different teams, say, the communication team, the vision science team, the clinical skills team, the clinical placements team. And so it requires good communication between the team, and it also requires us to have pretty much all the time to establish frameworks that then everybody can use that scaffold again and again and again, so that we’re not using one system for teaching communication in first year and then switching to another one so it’s about coordinating everyone and it’s also about coordinating for the students and the way that that communication system or Indigenous health and Indigenous cultural safety training occurs, so that the students can see it building and building and building and because, of course, they have to buy into what we’re trying to teach. it’s all it’s all well and good for us to have a curriculum that we think we’ve designed impeccably and it makes sense to us, it needs to make sense to the student as well and we’ve got a great bunch of students who tell us when things don’t make sense. We have a really positive Staff/Student Liaison Committee that meets to talk about micro issues but also macro issues and early and trimesters so we can fix things on the fly, we need to, or we can plan for next year, rather than waiting for evaluate and then try to unpick what they mean from a survey we get buy in from our students during the trimester which is really helpful because it allows us to perhaps, as I said, fix those little things that are easy to fix on the fly and it means that the students in week three or four go oh good now, you know that that problem is alleviated. Or at least, then they know if we can’t fix it this term, that we can try for next term.
Oh look, it is daunting and it is it’s, it is a difficult procedure and process and, as I said, I really wasn’t the domain architect Alex Gentle was the main architect, along with a couple of other people who’ve now left Deakin I only came in probably a year into the planning and so I think it’s around having we’re lucky that we have a very prescriptive set of guidelines in terms of you know what our curriculum needs to have in it and so that’s kind of one problem solved in that you don’t have to think about what yout graduate outcomes again to be and try and and map itself we’re told what our graduate outcomes, need to be and we’re able to then design a course that fits it. The other thing I think, is thhat the team needs to be really you know, to buy into it and we’ve been super lucky that we’ve got a group of academics, who are absolutely invested in the program and so yeah we do things sometimes in the in inverted commas “hard way” because it involves building the framework and mapping, but what that then means is that we end up with a product to be in that as things change we can we actually know we’ve mapped our course well and we can then make changes and and I guess we’ve been we’ve been really lucky that we’ve had we’ve had good really good support from the design and the learning designers they’ve been you know, over the last 10 years of our course and it’s been called the Health Pod, it’s been called HEDU, it’s been lots of names and changes but we’ve been really lucky that we’ve had a fantastic group of people to work with, and in many times we didn’t know what the solution to our problem was we we just knew what our problem was and we had great learning designers who then you know suggested ways that we could approach that so my advice is that if you if you want to do this so, for instance we’re moving to programmatic assessment in the next, it will probably take us three to five years to do it properly and but one of the things we’re just doing now is we’re working with Chris Rawson and the team designing the course hub, and the course hub is designed with programmatic assessment and and a whole look at your degree and how it unfolds in mind. And so there’s a there’s a scaffold there and we’re building some new e-learnings with Jane Kiddell and Susie Macfarlane and those the e-learnings. We think will be the backbone of rather than students attending our lecture but they may or may not, you know, taking the material we’re designing some interactive e-learnings that allow students to see the constructive alignment to to answer pre learning and questions to reflect and then to use that e-learning once I finished it as a portfolio item to show that they’re developing you know they they’re developing a competency and see how it’s mapped. It’s been we’ve been again we’ve been really lucky that we’ve been able to talk with the right people in the the heads of the unit so, for instance, we wanted to know what analytics we could get out of student interactions with these sort of e-learnings. And so, one of the first things we’re doing is we’re going to build an e learning and and we’re getting our learning designers across the university to look at it and see what data that they can pull out so they can tell us how our students may interact with the learning and we can get some metrics that we can then and perhaps use as signpost for our students to say you know you you spent 12 minutes on this assessment on this particular learning we kind of think you probably should have spent half an hour or and you’ve revisited this learning seven times, is that, because you don’t understand it or is that because you’re you really like it or we don’t know but but that’s what we’re trying to sort of get an idea of when our plan is to as I said to scaffold and see what we can do and come up with a template that we then will we can now do 50 lectures based on this template and we’ll get the analytics that we need out of it and that the students will you know, be able to read that resource or listen to that resource, interact with that resource. So I guess yeah the advice is it is daunting, but there are some there are some great people to help and if anyone’s ever interested in some of the things that our team is doing we’re most happy to share and chat and we’ve been blessed to have a whole bunch of people that were really happy to share and chat and teach us along the way, so. That would be my yeah that’d be my, take him out of it. I think it’s it’s we learned CloudDeakin or I learned CloudDeakin on the fly and I never really knew what it could do, and what it can do, and so you know you play you’re busy you do things. And sometimes if you don’t use it to its maximum potential so it’s nice, as I said, to for us to spend a bit of time now and plan forward and say, well, what can the system do for us and what can we give the students, because we have to do something better than just lectures. You know, we do a lot of interactive, they’re not lectures they’re classes, they’re workshops they’re whatever you want to call them but there is still a need for us to get a lot of material across to students in that traditional lecture style, we think this e-learning might be a more interesting way for students to get this type of information.
Now, as I said, I think we’ve been really lucky that we’ve had great support from all the iterations of what is now DeakinDesign over the years, so it’s look forward to being challenging every time I come to Susie with a new suggestion I think she thinks Oh, here we go but but it’s it’s really great we’ve had super support.