Learning Designs - Products of the AUTC project on ICT-based learning designs
Home | Exemplars (selected) | Guides | Tools | The Project | Search
  Snapshot Designer's Voice (selected) Cross Links
  Medical Radiation Sciences Context Reflections






The learning design comprises a sequential weekly tutorial structure where students are required to complete a variety of tasks and are supported by resources such as a subject web site a Computer-Assisted Learning program to encourage them to have more autonomy of their learning.

The Learning Design Sequence is illustrated as follows.

Download PDF Version





The activities students conduct in this subject are organised around discrete weekly episodes where a new topic relating to the subject is introduced on a weekly basis.

Students are required to attend once weekly 2-hour tutorials and once weekly 2-hour practical sessions in the last 5 weeks of semester.

Notes on the new weekly topic are provided on the web site and students are expected to have read these before the tutorial. Students then conduct activities in the weekly tutorials based on the topic introduced for that week. Weekly tutorials relate to the week's lecture material and are run using group activities with students using notes and a trolley full of text-books to answer questions of theory ('why', not ''what').

A mastery essay is set for return early in the semester and two library orientation sessions are given with the essay question as a prompt for the searches, along with two sessions on writing skills. Students with writing difficulties are referred for help. A later essay is assessed.

A Computer-Assisted Instruction (CAI) package is used along with study sheets and calculation problems to provide reinforcement of theory and practice at calculations.

Late in the semester, students are introduced to problem-based learning (PBL) which incorporates practical sessions. Practical activities include role-play where one student is the patient and the others are practitioners. They are required to carry out a simple procedure related to the problem under discussion (e.g. positioning a patient for treatment of a skin cancer).

There are sets of multiple choice questions on the web for students to use as practice and to check their knowledge.

A detailed timetable is used so students know what to do and when to do it, which helps them to keep track of the various activities.

Introduction of PBL late in the semester allows early familiarisation with system and socialisation of students before they join their formal learning groups. Early tutorials and web notes provide background theory to PBL problems.


  • Participation in the "Frequently Asked Questions" (FAQ) section of the web site is optional and many students read the entries but do not contribute themselves.
  • Reading the announcements is crucial to ensure that students know what is going on.
  • All tutorials and practical sessions are critical as the material learnt here cannot be found anywhere else.
  • The CAI is optional but highly recommended.





Internet resources:
The subject web site provides all the information about the subject, i.e.: subject requirements, assessment, notes, summative multiple choice questions, and communications. Notes should be accessed weekly before each tutorial. Updates are posted on the Announcements page regularly to keep students informed. Links are provided to other useful sites.

Students therefore need computer resources but can use these at university or at home. A printer is useful if they want to print out notes.

Access can occur at any time, giving students some flexibility.

Computer-assisted Instruction:
A computer-assisted instruction program (developed with funding from the former Australian Government Committee for the Advancement of University Teaching, CAUT) can be used for independent learning. This is loaded locally in computer labs, so can be accessed any time that the campus is open. It cannot be accessed from home.

Library resources:
A set of textbooks relevant to the weekly topic is taken in a trolley to the tutorial room.

Constant accessibility of the web site is very important, as students do not rely on paperwork which is easy to lose.

One of the most important aspects of the resource set is the communications facility of the site provided via the FAQ and Announcements sections. These features give students a sense of security as they can always find out what is going on, ask questions, etc.

The detailed subject schedule on the site is also very important, as students know exactly what they must do every week of the semester. Because this subject is targeted at first year undergraduate students, the subject schedule serves as a support. Unlike the students' school experience, where they are extensively guided, at university level the subject schedule serves as a guide that students must use independently.

The web site is essential. Other materials could vary depending upon the subject matter being learnt.




Students are supported in a variety of ways:

Subject Web site:
The Web site supports students in their learning as it is the central focus of the subject in that all the information and resources about the subject plus online communication tools to interact with other students are provided. This is elaborated as follows:

  • The web site has an Announcements page and a FAQ page which students learn to use for communications very early in the semester. The Announcements page is used for notices from staff on things like change of tutorial rooms, reminders about class tests, etc.
  • The FAQ page is used by students for asynchronous communication. They use it to pose questions of staff regarding subject arrangements, etc., and to communicate with each other. Although designed for one particular subject, students use this page to discuss other first year subjects as well. Discussion covers things like what material is to be covered in a forthcoming class, when assessment dates might occur, what students might have missed if they missed a class, and more social aspects such as recruitment for the student ball, etc. Staff also check this page, and will respond if they see student misconceptions, etc. Students are very helpful to each other, freely answering questions, even if the answer is just "check the study guide".
  • The web site also contains the study guide and assessment details for the subject.
  • Multiple choice questions are available on the web so that students can test themselves. The questions provide feedback for both incorrect and correct answers, and a score after completion. The MCQs can be done as many times as students wish.

There are three instructors/tutors assigned to small group tutorials. They assist the students in the weekly tutorials by facilitating group discussions, including giving students opportunities to give oral presentations to the large group and by providing a well-maintained subject web site. The three lecturers check the FAQ site frequently and the first-year coordinator checks it every day. When learning moves into PBL, instructors have to help students acquire the skills required. This includes providing detailed written support materials and encouraging students to brainstorm a question, rather than expecting an instant answer, as well as helping them to develop the skills required to function well as a group.

"External subject"support:
Library staff give two library orientation sessions. Access to assistance with writing skills is needed because some students will have poor writing skills. This is provided by a central Faculty unit, the Language and Learning Assistance Centre. The formative essay is an ideal tool for the identification of students with writing difficulties.

Peer support:
Students can support each other by helping each other in the informal tutorial groups and by meeting outside class hours to share the research needed for addressing the PBL problems. Students are very supportive of anyone who posts questions to the FAQ site.

As this subject takes place in first semester, first year, its support strategies are enormously important in easing the school-to-university transition. By the end of the subject, most students will have formed a supportive network of other students, will have a good idea of the support systems in place in the Faculty, and will feel more confident of their independent learning ability. They will also have learnt basic research and information retrieval skills.

Communications and student support in their learning groups are the most critical forms of support.

Support such as help with finding relevant books, writing skills, etc., could be gained in a different subject.


  Top of Page Home