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Redevelopment of a gateway unit of study for the Faculty of Science at the University of Sydney

The entire education community has felt the pressure of change in the harsh light of the Covid-19 pandemic. Many faculties and schools have and are, facing the need to revisit and revamp existing curricula to translate to entirely online learning spaces.

On the one hand, this has led to an opportunity to improve and update existing learning materials and their delivery. It has on the other, led to risks in maintaining the quality of content and continuing engagement of students in their learning. To ensure the maintenance of high-quality learning that the University of Sydney is globally known for, the Faculty of Science engaged Curio to assist in the redesign of their gateway unit of study for Geography, Environmental Studies and Geology. Curio worked closely with Professor Pauline Ross, Associate Dean (Education), to implement her proposed structured, repeatable, and pedagogically robust conceptual framework for online learning. This framework involved breaking down weekly topical content into five pedagogical components:
  1. A big idea (the hook)
  2. Discovery of key learning concepts
  3. Online and asynchronous practical exercises
  4. Interactive synchronous lectorials
  5. A space for students to consolidate and reflect
Curio provided support to academic teaching staff from the School of Geosciences and the School of Life & Environmental Sciences in the curation of existing and new content to align with the framework. In co-design with the academic staff, Curio developed a range of engaging learning materials including animations, interactive knowledge checks, free-text metacognitive pitstops, as well as effective online social engagement with students through Slack. Curio sought feedback at regular intervals to ensure the academic rigour of learning materials was maintained, and that the flow of those materials within the conceptual framework was consistently geared toward student success. The unit has gone live over the first semester of 2021. Initial signs of student engagement were extremely promising, and we eagerly await the first wash of student and tutor feedback.

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