October 2019 – February 2020
About Australian Catholic University (ACU)
A publicly-funded university founded in 1991, Australian Catholic University (ACU) has several campuses across Australia. It was formed following the merger of Catholic College of Education, Institute of Catholic Education, McAuley College, and Signadou College of Education. ACU invites students of all beliefs and backgrounds to study within its four faculties: education and arts, health sciences, law and business, and theology and philosophy – all of which provide undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD programmes.
ACU required support to design, develop and deliver a Master of Public Health online degree. Previously, the course was blended with face-to-face and online elements, but it needed to be optimised for digital delivery. As a result, ACU decided to invest in Oppida to help raise the bar in its online course design and increase engagement with current and prospective students.
The first challenge was the tight timeframes – requiring the redesign and delivering four fully online postgraduate units for Semester 1, 2020, with the remaining units to follow.
ACU’s Public Health teaching team recognised the need to move away from simply re-purposing resources designed for face-to-face delivery. Instead, they sought to apply best-practice, learner-centred design principles to create an educational experience to meet the unique needs of online students.
They also understood that improving the quality of their digital presence could increase student engagement and retention. ACU’s Public Health teaching team was open to building its online learning design and delivery capability, which would require new working methods. This would have to be done by simultaneously managing the demands of end-of-semester teaching and administration and the ongoing design and delivery of face-to-face courses.
Oppida’s customised solution
Oppida took a human-centred design approach to working with the ACU Public Health team. This approach involved actively coaching and supporting them to build confidence and skills in designing for their online students.
Oppida conducted a thorough ‘digital learning health check’ of ACU’s existing online materials to begin the project. We collaborated with the ACU team to co-create various design and project management tools. ACU’s Public Health teaching team continues to use these tools to develop new online units. The new online units are being delivered on ACU’s Moodle platform ‘Leo’, and students actively engage with constructively aligned learning experiences, including collaborative group work, rich media – such as teaching videos – case studies and creative tasks, all designed specifically for online environments.
The ACU faculty who commenced the project feeling unsure about their capabilities now have the confidence to mentor other academics embarking on the online learning design journey. In addition, communication and collaboration significantly improved across the teaching team, and best of all, student feedback on the new online units was overwhelmingly positive.