TLCANZ18: Student Digital Experience: The Evolution of Baseline Standards

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Student Digital Experience: The Evolution of Baseline Standards



This presentation will describe the development of a Student Digital Experience (SDE) at James Cook University (JCU) from the initial idea through to policy. It will explore questions around the form and utility of various standards, guides, templates and policies that institutions use to drive improvements in the student digital experience.


With change comes challenge but also opportunity. A migration from Blackboard Original to Blackboard Ultra at JCU prompted the introduction of the SDE as a means to encourage better learning design and quality teaching practice via the new platform and to bring all courses at the institution to a measurable baseline level.

Preceding the SDE at JCU were a set of Standards for Blended and Online Subject Design and a Blended Learning Policy. The Policy outlined definitions and principles at a high level while the Standards were a set of grouped indicators – comprehensive but broad and designed as a guide and a reflective tool. What was missing were requisite procedures and a catalyst to initiate change in practice to focus on student experience.

The SDE began as a set of eight statements designed to be understandable, achievable and formed in a way that meeting them would lead staff towards developing a consistent and engaging student experience. Feedback on the SDE from the JCU community has been positive. Teaching leaders at JCU support the use of stronger instruments to focus the digital experience for students on consistency, clarity and easy access to essential communications, grades and feedback. Accessibility is wholeheartedly supported as is purposeful learning design and streamlined support options for students.

The SDE continues to evolve and is being developed as University policy. Once the SDE is finalised, implemented and evaluated, it will form the baseline for a Digital Maturity Model that aims to recognise and reward educational excellence in the online environment.

Authors: Ben Cleland, Danny Munnerley, Trevor Foster, Kathryn Meldrum, Maria Bellei, Natalie Lloyd | James Cook University