Program transformation: reimagining distance education in the digital world.

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Research and Development in Higher Education Vol. 40: Curriculum Transformation

June, 2017, 455 pages
Published by
Ruth Walker & Simon Bedford

This paper discusses the transformation of a higher education postgraduate industry- focussed coursework program from a didactic behaviourist-style distance format to a fully integrated program using the affordances of the digital environment to connect students to enrich their learning and provide real-world experiences so they can develop skills necessary for their future careers. The transformation required extensive consultation with industry, government and academic stakeholders, alumni and current students to ensure currency and relevance of the revised program. It also required benchmarking the curriculum against similar international programs, the University and Faculty strategic directions, and the latest research and thinking around the pedagogy of digital and adult education programs. Establishment of an industry advisory committee, a clear articulation of the mission statement for the program, and a carefully considered vision for the future development of the program have also informed the transformation decisions. The transformation, based on a “learning by doing” philosophy has led to higher rates of student attainment of career objectives.

Keywords: Distance education, program transformation, online learning