Stephen Wheeler

eLearning Technologist

Earth Resources: Module Redesign for eLearning

Published on (Tuesday, November 14, 2017) by Stephen Wheeler.


One of the main aims of the project was to improve a core module that had been neglected for some time and had received consistently poor student feedback.

The module has been re-developed from scratch and is now unrecognisable from what had gone before and now has overwhelmingly positive student feedback.

The main objective of this project was to make innovative use of eLearning to improve student engagement with the subject.

Course development for eLearning using the Carpe Diem process was undertaken and a course was designed that made extensive use of groups, blogs and rubrics and with content developed that made use of video and images.

All in all, an innovative and engaging course was developed.


We have produced a module that uses Blackboard to enable online collaboration and encourages better students engagement with the subject. This was expected and a part of the brief.

Of greater benefit is the winning over of a sceptical academic to the worth of eLearning and the fact that it enables her to teach better. This was a hoped for benefit and very welcome. Vicky grasped very early on that putting engaging resources and content in Blackboard, not just lecture slides, but creating activities for students to engage with to expand and deepen their understanding, was a better teaching and learning experience for her and her students.

Vicky also appreciated that the effort she put in now to develop the course pays dividends when the course is presented in the coming years. The course has been designed and now only needs improving based on her reflection on how things have gone this year.


The project stayed well within its scope. Development and training took place for an hour at irregular fortnightly meetings from the project starting at the beginning of October to the module beginning in Semester 2.

Accepted Changes

If anything, the scope of the project narrowed. This narrowing scope enabled Vicky to focus on pedagogical issues which befitted her and the students by producing a very streamlined course. With being a new academic and this being the first course to be taught by her, it was only right that we scaled things back to concentrate on the fundamentals of developing a course for eLearning.

Lessons Learned

The project benefited by working with a new academic. Although it was an existing course, Vicky had no qualms about developing the course from scratch, going right back to the fundamentals of what the course was all about, and being open to suggestions about how to design a course for eLearning.

Adopting a constructivist approach to the course design, building the course around a series of activities and requiring participation using Blackboard’s communication tools (group blogs in this case), was a huge success.

We successfully used rubrics to mark and give feedback to students on their blog posts. The Blackboard update denied us the use of rubrics at the end of the course but we managed a work around this with minimal impact on students.

The final exam, for the first time in the School, was an online exam which went ahead successfully and proved to be hugely convenient to Vicky in terms of automating marking for half of the exam and online marking for the other half.

Where improvement could be made is where the academic and teaching assistants interacted with students online. They lacked confidence in this area and could have done more to encourage and develop online participation. This will improve with time and experience.

The academic could have “flipped the classroom” more fully but lacked the confidence to do so and maintained traditional lectures in her face to face contact time with students.


Feedback from all quarters has been overwhelmingly positive.

Vicky Coker has been impressed by the level of engagement shown by students and has realised some of the potential or eLearning, both as an asset to teaching and learning, and as an aid to easing her workload.

The student feedback has been overwhelmingly positive about the role of eLearning in this course, and they have appreciated that the approach we have taken has increased their understanding of the subject.


The “Carpe Diem” approach to redeveloping this module has proved to be popular with Vicky and the results popular with students. I would recommend this approach to developing and redeveloping modules, though in this instance it was beneficial that a new academic with no preconceptions or attachment to the module and how it should be taught was teaching. Vicky was willing to “buy-in” to the approach we adopted and to rely heavily on help and support from the eLearning team.

I would recommend this project as an exemplar with the proviso that participating academics approach the process with an open mind, are willing to try new things, and are willing to defer to the experience of the eLearning team.