Online subject conversions – one story

Professor Graham Sewell and Head Tutor, Valerie Cotronei-Baird are part of a team that deliver a very large compulsory second-year undergraduate subject in the Faculty of Business and Economics. Approximately 1000 students take ‘Organisational Behaviour’ every semester. Through an LTI grant they have converted components of their subject for online delivery. This allows more effective active learning to happen during their face-to-face time with students.

As part of this conversion Graham and Valerie created several videos to replace the week three and week nine lectures. With 1000 students, lectures are repeated three times every week so all students can attend. Online delivery of the lectures frees up lecture spaces and lecturers’ time, while students view the lecture at a time that suits them. In the future they plan to convert more lectures to online videos.

Creating engaging and meaningful video lectures requires creative thinking. Week three includes videos explaining the theory of the week. This was filmed in the Learning Environment’s self-service studio. One video is an interview with a Police Sergeant discussing a very interesting, real application of the theory within the Victorian Police Force. For Week 9 the videos were created using animated drawings and voice-over, similar to videos at RSA Animate. The video is an entertaining and very visual explanation of the theory.

Image take from a video used in Week 9. Cartoon "What is organisational culture"

In 2009 the tutorials had been redesigned to include explicit student activities that not only promoted deeper learning of the content, but also embedded employability and research skills in the tutorial activities. Consequently these very active tutorial sessions had felt rushed. Graham and Valerie could see that components of these activities could be delivered online. While previously students had to complete reading prior to tutorials, now they also complete activities that are essential for the tutorial delivery. Part of the LTI grant was used to create these ‘online tutorials’.

One example of the tutorial conversion is the activity in which students completed a survey of their demographics, project skills and personality, the answers to which are used to form teams during the tutorial. These responses are imported into the software ‘Team Machine’ which uses an algorithm based in this information to allocate the team groups. Each team will complete a major team assessment piece. The tutorial now starts with students going straight into a team meeting to develop their working protocols and write a team contract.

Another example of the tutorial conversion is a quiz the students complete exploring common sense assumptions about people and organisations. Students then discuss their response in groups, with the group having to agree and defend a group response. The quiz used to be paper based and completed during the tutorial, but now has been converted to an online test in the LMS that can be answered prior to the tutorial. Consequently students come prepared with their responses and rationale already thought through.

The subject conversion is being implemented for the first time this semester, so no formal student feedback has been collected. Observations so far are that the students are completing the required pre-work before the tutorial and in the tutorials are able to focus on deeper learning activities. It seems the clear integration of the online activities with the face-to-face activities has meant the students can see the importance of completing the online tutorial activities. Graham and Valerie carefully planned learning design has resulted in a very effective blended delivery of the subject.



Bergey, P., & King, M. (2014). Team Machine: A Decision Support System for Team Formation. Decision Sciences Journal Of Innovative Education, 12(2), 109-130. doi:10.1111/dsji.12027

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