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(BIO) Fabricating A Shared Language of Pedagogical Design to Co-Construct A Post Graduate Online Course

Ms Bethany Muscat,
Ms Sabine Straver, Dr Janine Delahunty

University of Wollongong

Background: As universities increasingly offer online learning options, some of the less transferable pedagogical practices common in face-to-face teaching are brought into view. This can give rise to tensions between academics and educational designers in regard to re-thinking content, teaching practices and pedagogical design.  In 2017 Biofabrication was one of a number of University of Wollongong postgraduate certificate courses earmarked for the first offering of fully online courses marketed under ‘UOW Online’. Biofabrication is a highly specialised, postgraduate course taught in disparate, face-to-face intensives. This paper reflects upon the shared conversation between eight Biofabrication scientists (‘scientists’), with backgrounds in chemistry, biology and/or engineering, and two Technology-Enhanced Learning Specialists (‘designers’) responsible for transitioning the course to fully online. At the outset it was decided that the siloed topic-based approach would be exchanged for experiential, clinical application-based approach to meaningfully frame the content in real- world contexts.

Methods:The study draws on the concept of Cognitive Activity-Based Design methodology (Kim & Lee, 2016) to retrospectively analyse the records and reflections kept by the designers in order to move from ‘ill-defined design problem’ to ‘satisficing design solution’. Data included self-reports; writings, sketches, computer iterations; observation notes/ reflections. These were categorised according to the design phases of problem structuring, preliminary design, design refinement and detailed design with the kinds of activities this involved such as thinking, examining, writing, sketching computer work.

Findings: Through the co-construction of an authentic, shared language, evolving from an adaptable low- level ‘course design overview’, the designers and scientists developed a common language amidst their polar realms of expertise. This gave all a voice to discuss course content and pedagogical design.  In practice, the course design overview became the design model.

Discussion: By avoiding a static, one-size- ts-all design model, the wider eld and professional practices of Biofabrication informed the design. Through making time to establish collegial relationships and
re fine the tangible yet flexible course design overview, the designers and scientists were able to effectively design the course using a shared language. This also ensured experiential, real-world learning opportunities for learners. Both parties finished the project with cross-fertilisation
of knowledge stemming from the wider context of mutual respect.