K. O'Brien

Deakin University (AUSTRALIA)
There is a clear cry from governments and employers that graduates with good generic skills, also called employability skills, are needed. Deakin University has made a clear commitment to developing employability skills in students. In 2012, Deakin began a whole of institution project, the Course Enhancement process. The focus of course enhancement is on transforming learning experiences using premium cloud and located learning, re-imagining assessment and integrating key employability skills, the eight Deakin Graduate Learning Outcomes (GLOs), into courses.

A systematic approach has been taken to the course enhancement process. A course evidence portfolio is assembled for a course, presenting baseline information in relation to curriculum inputs (in particular, assessment which is seen as central to the learning process) and curriculum effectiveness. Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs), contextualizing the eight Deakin GLOs and any professional accreditation requirements, in alignment with the requirements of the Australian Qualifications Framework, are developed and minimum standards set. The CLOs are then mapped across the units (subjects) that make up a course, so that there is a very clear picture of where the CLOs (and therefore GLOs or employability skills) are being developed, and where there may be gaps. Unit Chairs then re-examine unit learning outcomes in light of the course evidence portfolio and CLOs, and re-imagine assessment. If a CLO is to be developed in a unit, there must be a corresponding unit learning outcome and it must be assessed. Key resources that can be created for courses as part of the course enhancement process include: Cloud Concepts (5-10 minute, visually engaging videos that may be downloaded to mobile devices that capture key concepts about a topic), simulated assessment and a refresh of CloudDeakin, the learning management system (including development of a course site). Unit Chairs develop a Unit Plan for their unit, which includes new learning outcomes and re-imagined assessment, constructively aligning the CLO’s, unit learning outcomes and assessment, and plans for resourcing (focusing on the three main areas detailed previously). Course teams then put together a Course Plan based on the needs of the course that will guide the central resourcing over approximately 10 weeks, taking into account what is planned within individual units.

A key initial step is writing the CLOs and minimum standards. This is relatively straightforward in courses where the majority of component units are prescribed. However variations to the model have been necessary when a course has several majors or strands, or when there are very few common core units within a degree. Another key step is the creation of the Course Plan that will guide the 10 weeks of resourcing undertaken by Learning Futures in conjunction with the course team. Again, although there is a common approach, there have been variations based on different course needs, and a realization of the time constraints of the course enhancement process.

This paper will discuss the course enhancement process undertaken at Deakin University, the model used and some of the variations adopted by courses in integrating employability skills, the GLOs. It will also share some of the important lessons learned from engaging in this process over the past 12 months.