Western Institute of Technology Taranaki

Western Institute of Technology Taranaki (WITT) wanted to create a flexible level-4 Communications course that could be used for students across the institution — including those who were for studying hospitality, hairdressing, art, and foundation studies for nursing. The course would be flexible — with some classroom tutorials and a considerable amount of online work that could be completed off-campus or in the tutorials. This design had to be started from scratch, since all of the departments had their own customised courses at level 3 or 4, and WITT’s base level of online learning was low. The proposal was that the new course would be more effective and cost-efficient than a range of discrete courses, it would cater for a range of subject disciplines by presenting core material overlaid with subject-specific resources, and it would be easy to adapt and update.

We started by analysing the performance criteria for all of the courses in a workshop that included senior management and representatives from all of the affected departments. From that workshop we selected the critical and common elements from the current courses, and added future requirements. Three tutors from different departments were given release time to work on course design and development, for which they used the OTARA framework. On my frequent visits to the polytechnic, I reviewed and gave feedback on the development, and conducted one-to-one training in online pedagogy and ways to use the learning management system (LMS).

The project also included providing support and advice for WITT’s Flexible Learning Facilitator.

Particular challenges included:

  • getting ‘buy-in’ from the departments and staff who were wary of online learning
  • enlisting motivated tutors and providing them with release time
  • providing tutors with training in using the LMS to a standard at which they were confident in passing on those skills to students
  • creating a design that was not only interesting, pedagogically sound, and relevant for student studies, but would also run on low bandwidth and with minimal technological sophistication.



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