Unit outlines in the palm of students’ hands

In 2020, unit of study outlines will be available on the University’s website in a common format, making them more consistent and accessible, to improve the student experience.

Unit outline on a mobile phone
The unit outline is designed to be accessible and work across all devices

Unit of study outlines are a key source of information for students as they contain details of what they will study, how they will learn and how and when they will be assessed. This information can be used by students to plan their unit choices, organise their studies, apply for special consideration, set up academic plans and provide evidence of the topics they studied. The outlines are currently made available in Canvas after enrolment and the templates vary by discipline or faculty.

From Semester 1 2020, students will be able to access unit outlines outside of Canvas, to support the Student Experience Strategy. The outlines will be published on the University’s internet using the template agreed by the University Executive Education Committee in 2017 following consultation with faculties and students. They will present information consistently for staff and the following groups of students:

  • Potential students – they will be able to navigate to unit information via ‘Sydney Courses’ to plan their studies before enrolling.
  • Current students – they will be able to navigate to their version of the unit outline either through the internet or through a link pushed into the course menu on the matching Canvas site.
  • Former students – they will be able to find old unit outlines to use, for example, for credit applications.

“The availability of detailed information on units of study, including learning outcomes, assessments and learning tasks will provide students will the ability to plan their studies and make our curriculum information transparent for staff.”

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education), Professor Pip Pattison AO

Main unit page
The main page shows general information about the unit such as its purpose and learning outcomes
Page for each time unit runs
A separate page shows information for a particular instance of a unit such as assessment dates and learning activities
Canvas course menu with link to the unit outline
The outlines will be available on the public facing website and via a link in the course menu on the matching Canvas site.

The online outline is being designed and built with input from students. A mock-up of the current design can be accessed online when on campus or via VPN, with staff invited to provide feedback until the end of October 2019 via a quick survey. The Curriculum Mapping team in Educational Innovation are running orientation sessions over the next few months. The unit outline was co-designed by staff and students to ensure it meets the needs of all users. We want it to provide the information that students need and to be accessible to all students in the ways they want to consume it.

The information that will feed into each unit outline is held in the Sydney Curriculum system. The Curriculum Mapping team is currently entering data held in existing outlines into the system. By the end of October, faculties will have access to review their units of study and map learning outcomes to graduate qualities to ensure each course is coherent and well aligned.

“Making sure the system and all of our units are ready is a huge task. We are working hard to train faculty and school-based staff to ensure there is support for academics as they check and finalise their 2020 units, to be ready for the launch of the online outlines in February ahead of Semester 1.”

Manager, Sydney Curriculum, Jane Thompson

Alongside providing students with online outlines, assessment information will be pre-populated into the Special Consideration and Disability Services systems, enhancing the experience of students and staff using these services. Disability Services Manager, Damgar Kminiak says “Having assessment information for each unit of study available electronically before the start of the semester will create a more timely and efficient process in the management of support for students with disability.”

View a mock up of the online unit outline* Provide feedback on the design of the online unit outline Register for an information session on the online unit outline

*If you’re off campus you will need to use the University’s VPN service to access the mock-up.

This article was adapted from Staff News.

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