A Lens On… Course Design

In this series of articles, the Educational Technology team will be providing an insight into existing practice using technology for learning and teaching at Falmouth University and various projects being undertaken within the sector.

Designing a course or module that encompasses and considers activities and aspects beyond your subject is a task that is required of academics. Bringing in elements of digital interactions with your students is expected: students are arriving at University with wide ranging digital practices. The Institution requires that part of your course is delivered in a blended or online fashion.

According to the King’s College London/QAA Student Expectations and Perceptions of Higher Education report (Kandiko & Mawer, 2013) students prefer adequate face to face time, and institutions are urged to be cautious in their implementation of technology as a tool to replace face to face interactions.

The report also says that “no students mentioned pedagogical uses of digital technologies” and that students perception of technology in their academic lives is simply a means to access information. This is rather a contradiction to what perceptions we have of students when they arrive at University, and to what some researchers of effective pedagogies have said (check out Re-thinking pedagogy for the digital age, Beetham & Sharpe, 2013)

When you really think about it though, if technology is used well then it is not viewed as a separate element of the students’ learning journey. If it is used as part of that journey (an embedded, invisible practice) – instead of something that sits alongside or even outside of the delivery of learning – then technology can be a tool to enhance what students are achieving, rather than as an annoyance that limits their attention on subject and forces focus to remain on the process of using it.

By following a course design process that facilitates:

  • innovative practice, both digitally and physically
  • flexible, seamless transition between the physical and digital space
  • recording the learning journey to allow for informed reflection
  • constructive alignment of materials, outcomes and assessment


  • both physical and digital interactions that transcend their platform

it will enhance your practice and your students’ learning.


Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/epublicist/8718123610/

Course design processes exist in many HEIs (e.g. Oxford Brookes, Northampton, Ulster, Leicester) and are successfully participated in to create some great programmes of study. Most are based around a team based approach that enables the teaching team to work with facilitators, support staff, and students to build a course/module that includes all the elements mentioned above. The great thing about them is that because the processes are not subject specific, a consistent experience can be created.

The processes are pure design – it is down to the subject specialists to decide what direction they take. Constructive alignment, interactions (both online and face to face) and assessment can be scaffolded using planning and storyboarding techniques. Materials and delivery are designed alongside librarians, technologists, students and technicians.

It’s no secret that the EdTech team have experience in pedagogic design and its integration of technology. We can facilitate the course design processes and are happy to help with the design of your module. Get in touch to learn more.