University of Canberra/Flexibly-enabled learning resources checklist

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Flexibly-enabled learning resources checklist
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High quality, flexible (University of Canberra, 2013) adult learner experiences can be facilitated by a combination of:

  1. Instructional expertise (Paechter et al, 2010, p. 228)
  2. Instructional support (Paechter et al, 2010, p. 228)
  3. Coherent structure of learning materials (Paechter et al., 2010, p. 228) – e.g. advanced organisers, clear presentation of learning objectives, structured/scaffolded learning content, and clear communication about expected prior knowledge of subject matter
  4. Usability of learning materials - Includes accessibility, flexibility, and availability
  5. Stimulation of learner motivations (Paechter et al., 2010, p. 228) – e.g., challenge, curiosity arousal, choice in activities, self-regulated learning, and experiential learning opportunities
  6. Collaborative learning practices (Paechter et al., 2010, p. 228) - e.g., peer learning, group activities, learners as teachers
  7. Feedback (Hattie & Timperley, 2007) - Learners crave feedback. Feedback can be fostered through well-designed learning activities which provide feedback-rich learning environments, guided/structured interaction with peers, and expert feedback from instructors

Also of use are Knowles' seven adult learner principles:

  1. Adults must want to learn - They learn effectively only when they are free to direct their own learning and have a strong inner and excited motivation to develop a new skill or acquire a particular type of knowledge, this sustains learning.
  2. Adults will learn only what they feel they need to learn - Adults are practical in their approach to learning; they want to know, "How is this going to help me right now? – Is it relevant (Content, Connection and Application) and does it meet my targeted goals."
  3. Adults learn by doing - Adolescents learn by doing, but adults do through an active practice and participation, this helps in integrating component skills into a coherent whole.
  4. Adult learning focuses on problem solving - Adolescents tend to learn skills sequentially. Adults tend to start with a problem and then work to find a solution. A meaningful engagement, such as posing and answering realistic questions and problems is necessary for deeper learning. This leads to more elaborate, longer lasting, and stronger representations of the knowledge (Craik & Lockhart, 1972).
  5. Experience affects adult learning - Adults have more experience than adolescents. This can be an asset and a liability, if prior knowledge is inaccurate, incomplete, or naive, it can interfere with or distort the integration of incoming information (Clement, 1982; National Research Council, 2000).
  6. Adults learn best in an informal situation - Adolescents have to follow a curriculum. Often, adults learn by taking responsibility by the value and need of content they have to understand and the particular goals it will achieve. Being in an inviting, collaborative and networking environment as an active participant in the learning process makes it efficient.
  7. Adults want guidance and consideration as equal partners in the process - Adults want information that will help them improve their situation. They do not want to be told what to do and they evaluate what helps and what doesn't. They want to choose options based on their individual needs and the meaningful impact a learning engagement could provide. Socialization is more important among adults.[1][2]

In additional to such general principles of learning, courses and units should recognise the diversity of learners' complex and individual life circumstances by being designed for flexibility (University of Canberra, 2013). In this context, flexible delivery means enabling dual modes (on-campus and online engagement), with the learner able to choose a fluid combination that suits their needs and circumstances.

Flexible-enablement, in line with adult learning principles, can be achieved by educational design which incorporates Foundational, Interactive and Transformational (FIT) educational opportunities (Oerlemans, 2013). In this approach, all units should be at least Foundational, with some units Interactive and some Transformational. For example, introductory units could be Foundational, mid-course units Interactive, and final/capstone units Transformational, but this is not the only way. Some units may include aspects of other levels, but should only be described as achieving a level if they satisfy all requirements. The UC curriculum review (University of Canberra, 2017a,b) requires courses to move beyond traditional content-delivery or Foundational units to include more Interactive and Transformational units to develop learners' professional practice and engage in work-integrated learning and co-operative education. Thus, the FIT model dovetails with UC's educational vision.

The FIT level requirements can be conceptualised in terms of four core elements:

  1. Content: Type and nature of the learning content
  2. Communication: Tools and strategies
  3. Interactivity: Instructional methodologies which facilitate learner engagement
  4. Assessment: Instructor assessment and feedback about learner performance; also learner assessment of unit design and instructor performance

The following sections suggest a unit-level checklist to help guide flexibly-enabled design and moderation using the three FIT levels. Other areas for possible consistency of units within a course/degree are described in a final section.


Objective: A foundational flexibly-enabled unit enables a self-directed learner to successfully meet all the unit's learning outcomes via either on- or off-campus engagement. This involves static delivery of learning content, with self-directed, active engagement with learning activities.


  1. Unit
    1. Name
    2. Number/code
    3. Description
    4. Link to course site
  2. Unit convener
    1. Name (hyperlinked to LMS profile or staff directory)
    2. Phone
    3. Email (hyperlinked)
    4. Drop-in/consultation
      1. Times
      2. Location (hyperlinked to map)
    5. Profile photo/image
    6. Other info (optional) - e.g. link to social media account(s)
  3. Unit outline (hyperlink)
  4. Groupings (as needed for different offerings e.g., UG/G)
  5. Unit structure - coherent and easy for self-directed learning
    1. Schedule
    2. Timetable (hyperlink)
    3. Modules
    4. Mapping of content and assessment to unit and course learning outcomes and university graduate attributes
  6. Unit content
    1. Lectures
      1. Slides (in maximally usable/re-usable formats)
      2. Recordings
      3. Readings
      4. Notes (optional)
      5. Further info - documents or links (optional)
    2. Tutorials
      1. Materials (in maximally usable/re-usable formats)
      2. Recordings
      3. Readings
      4. Notes (optional)
      5. Further info links (optional)
    3. Style - Consistent look and feel to each design chunk (week or module etc.) to facilitate navigability/usability


  1. Announcements
    1. Welcome/Orientation
    2. Regular updates (e.g, weekly or per module, with additional communications about major events such as assessment)
    3. Closure
  2. Discussion


Interactivity is important for engaging learners and creating a productive and positive learning environment with an ability to self-assess and gaining a sense of making progress. For example:

  1. Discussion
  2. Quizzes - Practice and assessable
  3. Collaborative authoring e.g., wiki
  4. Social media e.g., unit hashtag
  5. Polls and surveys


  1. Formative
  2. Summative
    1. Drop-box
    2. Details of requirements/Guidelines
    3. Marking rubric
    4. HD examples


Objective: Interactive engagement with the learning content, instructional activities and peers. In addition to the foundational requires for a flexibly-enabled unit, an interactive unit is characterised by:

    1. Online drop-in/live chat
    2. Active instructor participation in discussion (as opposed to discussion fora in which learners are left on their own)






Objective: Learning is delivered in alternative, innovative ways as designed by the unit convenor and/or learners.





Areas to consider for potential consistency across units within a course[edit]

University and faculty policies and procedures help to ensure consistencies across courses and units (e.g., late penalties).

However, there are still several inconsistencies between units within a course that are unnecessary and confusing for learners (i.e., caused by a lack of coherence in design rather than good andragogical practice. These problematic variations could be dealt with at a course level in order to promote a more consistent and coherent learner experience. For example:

  1. Availability of unit outlines, LMS site, learning content
    1. Pre-availability - when are unit materials available? (e.g., make all unit materials available on point of enrolment to maximise flexibility)
    2. Post-availability - when are unit materials no longer accessible? (e.g, make all unit materials perpetually available to faciliate life-long learning and ongoing engagement with the university)
  2. Requirements to pass
    1. Which assessment items are compulsory? Why? Or is it only necessary to achieve an overall pass mark regardless of whether assessment items have been completed?
  3. Timetabling
    1. Are classes scheduled to promote coherent and efficient use of time use by learners participating in multiple units in a teaching period within a course? Coherent course design would avoid ad hoc timetabling (e.g., based on individual unit convener personal preference?)
    2. Equity and consistency in the availability of on-campus and online learning opportunities (e.g,. are there on-campus, after-hours classes for full-time day workers/carers for each unit?)
  4. Assessment
    1. Due dates - Coordinate across units to help set up a balanced pace of study for learners to maximise their chances of success
    2. Word count allowances and methods
    3. Style requirements
    4. Cover page
      1. Required for each assessment?
      2. Declarations for re-use/auditing sample?
    5. Extensions
      1. Guidelines
      2. How to request
    6. Blind marking - per University policy, what steps taken for blind marking?
    7. Moderation practices
  5. Depersonalised instructional discourse (beyond teacher egocentrism):
    1. Instructors should avoid overpersonalisation of unit materials (e.g., instructors commonly slip into using ego-branded instructional language (e.g., "my" unit, naming discussion forums such as "Announcements from [Name] etc.). But instructors/conveners do not own units. Units can and should be easily taught by someone else with minimal changes to language. Units should be set up generically, so that they can be taken over and taught by anyone with minimal changes. If anything, the unit materials belong to learners because the materials and experiences are targetted at their learning, not the instructors' teaching. A basic check: do a text search and see how many times 1st person pronouns ("I", "my", "we", and "our") are used in the learning materials. Try rewriting the materials to only use 1st person pronouns where they are particularly useful and necessary. This will help to empower learners and facilitate their engage with the materials for themselves and their own learning. Another example: How often is "I", "my", "we", and "our" used on this checklist page?
    2. The second aspect of depersonalising instructional discourse is the way that instructors provide feedback to learners, for example, on written assignments. Feedback such as "you should do more of X and less of Y" is personalised, negative, and remarkably common. It is lazy. Avoid it. Rephrase such feedback to depersonalise and frame in positive, enabling terms. For example, "this report could be improved by including more of X and less of Y". This is a subtle but critical linguistic change but is important for authentic design which empowers. Bottom line: Critique the work, not the person[1].
  6. Web design screen real estate: Maximal use of primary screen real estate which minimises vertical scrolling (e.g., static, wordy text is common at the top of unit websites - this is poor use of primary screen real estate and poor web design).
  7. Disciplined and judicious use of push announcements: The course should have a disciplined and agreed communication strategy. Unit announcements should only be used for communicating learner-oriented information that is intrinsic and essential to successful learner engagement in the unit (e.g., not for an instructor to promote a personal research project). Do not cross-post. Course-level announcements should go out through course-level communication announcements. University-level announcements should go out through university-level communication channels. Information that is possibly interesting to learners, but not intrinsic to successful achievement of the unit's learning outcomes should not be an announcement - it belongs in an optional discussion forum.
  8. Equity in design and availability for on-campus and flexible students: The key to a flexible unit is that learners can successfully engage in the repertoire of learner opportunities face-to-face or online or through a combination. One method should not be privileged over another. For example, feedback opportunities such as the following do not treat online/flexible students equally: "If you would like further feedback please come and see me during my drop-in time. Please bring a hard copy of your assignment with you." Also explain the feedback opportunities (e.g, through a virtual chat-room) for flexible/online learners.

[Provide more detail]


  1. Hattie, J., & Timperley, H. (2007). The power of feedback. Review of Educational Research, 77, 81-112.
  2. Oerlemans, K. (2013). A model to guide the adoption of quality e-learning: Foundational, interactive and transformational. Kairos Consultancy and Training.
  3. Oerlemans, K. (2013). Online foundational requirements: Content, instructional strategies, communication and assessment. Faculty of Health, University of Canberra.
  4. Oerlemans, K. (2013). FIT – 3 levels of online pedagogy: Foundational, interactive and transformational.
  5. Paechter, M., Maier, B., & Macher, D. (2010). Students’ expectations of, and experiences in e-learning: Their relation to learning achievements and course satisfaction. Computers & Education, 54, 222–229.
  6. University of Canberra (2013). Flexibility at the University of Canberra: Dimensions and measurement [Discussion paper].
  7. University of Canberra (2017a). Curriculum review 2017 – 2022 paper v2.0 April 2017. [Discussion paper]
  8. University of Canberra (2017b). UC curriculum review undergraduate course structure. [Discussion paper]

See also[edit]

  1. Andragogy
  2. Emerging scholar
  3. Open academia)

External links[edit]

  1. Beyind teacher egocentris: Design thinking (Grant Wiggins, 2013)
  2. Preliminary summary of findings and gaps in the science of learning (Sam Moulton, 2014)
  3. Students aren’t customers…or are they? (The Conversation, 2013)
  4. Twenty-five heuristics for promoting learning (Winne & Nesbit, 2010)