Thursday, February 27, 2014

Designing courses for higher education

Susan Toohey's book "Designing Courses For Higher Education" was published in 1999, but is very relevant to today's debates over issues such as the role of MOOCs, support for international students and professional masters courses. This book is part of the excellent series published by Open University Press, on the how and why of higher education. The book is very readable, having been written for the Australian context. It contains some comments to deflate the egos of professors and senior administrators clinging to old modes of education, such as:
  • "Many teachers in higher education work in departmental environments that are quite hostile to good teaching and where little thought goes into the design of the curriculum." (page1).
  • on the cost of producing web based web based educational content : "Packages may be relatively expensive to produce, but probably less so than building more lecture halls". (Page 119)
  • In support of the use of print, video and computer based materials: "There doesn't seem to be much point any longer in bringing students together in mass lecture halls to supply them with information." (page 120).
The pressures for change evident in 1999 are still present for HE in 2014: more international students, increasing demands for accountability to government, more emphasis on vocational work ready skills and limited resources. Toohey details the opportunities of the Internet and the world wide web could improve education, which unfortunately as yet to be embraced by much of Australian higher education, a decade later.

ps: It happens I met Susan Toohey, months before I discovered she had anything to do with higher education, or had written a book on the topic.

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