Sustainability revisited

Sustainability of Course

* Can the module be run repeatedly without major alteration (for efficiency), for several years? – probably what do you need to consider for this to happen? This will depend on the results of an evaluation of the pilot and the first iteration after that wont it?  Yes,  some things might change over time as we get more experience with embedding l&n. For instance, we do not know yet whether the Assessment Tool is a good measure of gains in l&n, there may be more reliable ways to measure this.

* Is there going to be enough continuing student demand to cover the costs? – Depends on the costs . Also it depends on the needs of the tertiary sector – how can you ascertain this? needs analysis perhaps which can be part of your evaluation plan, and is best done prior to spending too much time developing the course. The costs involved for developing the course have so far been negligible as the course has partly fallen out of other work I have been doing anyway. PD that was being delivered anyway has been pulled into this more permanent course.
* Will the fees/income cover the costs of operation? – Depends on the numbers of participants. there may be a formula used by Finance regarding the number of paying students you need to break even, and to make a profit. It is worth finding this out so you are making decisions based on accurate estimations, and organisational policy. Heather Day should have this information. My role in the Learning Centre is to support staff with l&n issues in their courses, so once again, some of the costs of delivering this course will come out of “business as usual”.
* Do you know the real costs of operation? – Mainly the facilitators time (quantity still unknown). also overheads for the organisation. one would hope that the more sustainable the operation of delivering the course, the cheaper it is. :) If doing this course leads to better success and retention of students then the course will hopefully pay for itself.
* Is the teacher workload realistic? Does it rely on enthusiasm and commitment? If so, what happens when that runs out or people move on? (There should be a number of qualified literacy and numeracy specialists in the institution to take over the role.) this is where co-teaching is wonderful, because theoretically there is always someone in the know, and will prevent increases in workload having to train new facilitators all the time. It also helps with continuity. Collaboration in the development of resources is also important in keeping workloads manageable, and re-using resources which are already openly available. The use of OER where resources are readily available and able to be customised and adapted easily is more sustainable. You also have the advantage of a national community contributing to the literacy and numeracy initiative. Yes, this is a national initiative so there are external pressures which will support the continuance of this focus on l&n.
* Can the module be taught without the original author? (Probably if there is a good platform for content). Again this depends on the use of an open collaborative process, and co-teaching approaches. You are right if content is well designed for self-directed learning the learners can make use of it without a facilitator. Ideally embedding l&n will become “business as usual” and the concept of embedding l&n into vocational delivery will seem obvious to all.
* It is important to think about continued access to any linked learning resources and whether they are copyright cleared for the period. Is a continuing institutional subscription needed for any linked electronic materials? (Most national content is freely available and should be around for many years). what is the copyright licence on the materials – CC by attribution? This could impact on using it on platforms such as WikiEducator. Also how is the site where the material is housed maintained – governments change, and web sites are dismantled. :( Materials from TEC are copyright to the crown – does this mean they belong to the NZ tax payer? They are readily available and free now, so unless the focus changes (and perhaps in the future the need to address l&n in tertiary education will go) I imagine the resources will still be available.
* How self-contained is your course? Is it connected to other courses that might change? Can you design your course so that it has no dependencies? (Very self contained) Why and how is it self-contained? It does not have any pre-requisite for entry, it does require the participant to have learners.
* Where are the materials and supporting notes going to be stored? (Wikieducator, Moodle, national education websites) are these reliable sites, i.e., well-maintained by reputable organisations, well-funded etc? It might pay to back up some resources to DVD in case a website disappears.
* What arrangements do you have for course evaluation, and how does it feed back into the operation? (System of evaluation already in place for institution) you would probably want to add to this now following the presentation about evaluation and the ADDIE model of design. Formative evaluation through the phases of analysis, design and development is critical. I guess you will link to your evaluation plan? The organisation does summative evaluation well, including annual review, but this is like “the ambualnce at the bottom of the cliff” for a new course. Good point,  I will create a separate post for evaluation.

* What arrangements do you have for course maintenance and redesign? – (Part of a programme of study) yes this is part of annual review, however maintenance evaluation is not done well by the organisation. When do you expect to review the currency of materials and conduct a “proper” maintenance evaluation to ensure quality of the materials and strategies, technologies and learner experience still prevails, that is, they are keeping up with trends in the tertiary sector? I would expect this to be ongoing. Also if one of the main methods of learning is action inquiry then methods will be continually evaluated.

Also think about the workloads for students, and the access to the materials once the learners leave the organisation. It is not a sustainable design if learners have to re-invent the wheel and re-develop materials if they go elsewhere to work and need to use them. That is why having open access to the materials within a collaborative community is so important – this also helps retain currency without too much extra work by individuals. Would you agree? Very much so, which makes me think more about the mix I will use between Moodle and wikieducator, I think I need to put more material into wikied, and less in Moodle.


One response to “Sustainability revisited

  1. Helen
    you have pretty much covered all the bases, and I can see you are on to it. Just one thing in response to: “Materials from TEC are copyright to the crown – does this mean they belong to the NZ tax payer?”.

    Theoretically the materials do belong to the tax payer, but even with CC by the intellectual property belongs to TEC who funded the project. They have the right to put whatever copyright licence on it they like. Luckily for us things have loosened up in recent years. TEC these days tends to put Creative Commons by attribution on all educational materials. It should be on them.

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