At Southern Cross University we aim for the best online learning experience possible for our students. We aim for clarity, consistency and innovative learning in a way that promotes maximum student engagement and satisfaction.
The following online learning principles support the design and delivery of effective online learning experiences. These principles are grounded in research and embed best practices established by the Australian Higher Education community.
The purpose of these principles is to:
- guide the design, development, delivery and evaluation of online learning at the University
- create a meaningful, inclusive, innovative and engaging online environment for all students.
Online learning principles
1. Online learning design is easy to follow, innovative and integrated.
- Online learning is a cohesive experience where learning activities, content and assessment are integrated within a learning site.
- Clear expectations are set and guidelines are communicated to students.
- Unit site design is easy for students to navigate, responsive on mobile devices, web-accessible and consistent with the MySCU site template.
- A range of education technology tools (such as Discussion Boards, Collaborate, Zoom, Camtasia, Voicethread, Microsoft Office 365) provide a rich online learning experience, and are employed where appropriate to students, the learning aims and making real-world connections.
2. Online learning content is constructively aligned, relevant and inclusive.
- Content includes an appropriate study load of unit materials, activities and assessment tasks.
- Learning experiences are carefully sequenced to support student understanding and active student inquiry.
- Content and assessment are practical, industry-relevant, and constructively aligned to unit learning outcomes.
- Cognitive factors that affect learning are addressed by adopting clear, well-written, accessible and effectively-structured content design approaches (such as cognitive load theory, universal design for learning, Richard Mayer’s 12 principles of multimedia learning, chunked content and microlearning).
- Extension, preparatory and foundational resources are provided to support the diverse needs of students (including mature age, international and first in family students).
3. Teacher voice and presence is a critical component of online learning.
- The teacher is present online – being approachable, available and responsive to students' needs.
- The tone used to deliver online learning is informal and friendly.
- Learning content is embedded in a narrative that tells a story to students.
- Essential material and important concepts are highlighted using cues (such as highlighting/signalling/keywords or concepts, separating text, use of glossaries, providing visual imagery or diagrams) in order to draw students' attention and link concepts.
4. Students are actively engaged in online learning experiences.
- A variety of instructional methods and experiences are used (e.g. rich media, graphics, interactive eLearning, simulations, augmented reality).
- Inclusive practices are embedded in online learning (closed captions, readability, academic/study skills, building student motivation and confidence).
- Opportunities for practice are provided (overlearning, tests and quizzes, revision sheets etc.).
- Learning choices that support diversity and inclusivity are provided to students.
5. Students online learning needs are actively supported.
- Students are clearly told what they need to do (scaffolding, exemplars, templates etc.).
- Technical and learning supports are accessible to students.
- Personalised support mechanisms are provided to students (check-ins, identification of students at risk, FAQs etc.).
6. Online learning provides a range of collaboration opportunities.
- Online student interaction is encouraged and appropriate interactions are modelled synchronously and asynchronously using online tools (discussion boards, Blackboard Collaborate, etc).
- Opportunities for student cooperation, community engagement and connecting with peers are provided.
7. Online learning incorporates timely and effective feedback.
- Opportunities are provided for students to receive and act on formative feedback.
- Feedback is clear, explicit, constructive, respectful and timely.
- Feedback guides students to self-evaluate and improve the quality of their learning and work.
- Feedback facilitates a positive attitude toward future learning.
- Feedback is provided in a variety of forms (written, audio recordings, videos, etc.).
8. Reflective practice is used to improve online learning unit design and delivery.
- Reflective practice is an ongoing, dynamic process of thinking honestly, deeply and critically about all aspects of online learning, and adjusting and making changes as required.
- Reflective practice allows the incorporation of theory, students' views, colleagues' experiences, and personal teaching experiences when evaluating online learning practices.
- Student feedback surveys, QILT data and analytics may be used to inform continuous improvement.
To support online learning a variety of resources are available, designed and curated by CTL:
- Being a Successful Online Teacher
- Online teaching
- Providing social presence
- A guide to netiquette
- Facilitation of large events (webinars and conferences)
- Group work and break out rooms
- Online intensives
- Open Educational Resources (OER)
- Resources (from external sources)
- Synchronous online tutorials, lectures and workshops
- Teaching in the Blackboard environment