In designing an on-line Masters in Drug Discovery the team wanted it to be “born digital” rather than just ape a campus class. This was a three-year, part-time programme, with six courses per year in the first two years, followed by a dissertation by research in the final year. Students on a distance programme need a sense of progress and a sense of context into which their studies fall so that they can keep motivated. Moreover, most would be holding down jobs and their time on task would be limited. Thus, we wanted to support these distance students by giving them a structure to their studies. We also wanted them to feel a sense of progress by capturing their skills and by seeing them accumulate. We were keen that graduates would be able to defend themselves at interviews and do justice to what they had learned by having their skills and knowledge at their fingertips.
We designed an overarching portfolio with a blog and reflective pieces as its "engine". Posts then fed into evidence linked to the university's framework of Graduate Attributes. Along the way, we were pleased to incorporate on-line careers interviews into the portfolio and were grateful for engagement by the Careers Service advisors. We also embedded tasks to promote deep reflection on their experience of the programme. Despite the portfolio being a considerable amount of work, and not an easy source of marks, some students singled it out as being the best experience on the programme. Given our experience with a programme-wide portfolio, we gained confidence to start to apply the ideas to undergraduate courses.
The above case study is just one of twenty-five brilliant examples from our 2020 'Charting new courses in learning and teaching' conference. With case studies spanning degree apprenticeships, clinical assessment, interprofessional education, showcase portfolios, and many other contexts and disciplines, they are real stories of trailblazing innovation. If you'd like to download all 25 exemplars of pedagogical goodness, click the link below.