Flexible Academic Programming

Ever had to wait two hours to select your timetable and think the system should be changed? Want more summer and winter subjects, or annoyed about only being able to do some subjects as intensives during the break?

The University of Melbourne is currently considering a whole range of changes to the way it delivers educational content to students through their Flexible Academic Programming project (FlexAP). These include changing the way timetabling is done, increasing the number of classes held outside traditional class times, using more technology in teaching practices, and more – things that could really affect your academic experience.

There are eight areas that are being considered, and recommendations have been released for four of these areas (with the other four set to be released in the next couple of months).

These are:

Large Undergraduate Subjects

Recommendations

  • Create more opportunities for active engagement in large lectures (e.g. asking students to do polls on their laptops/smartphones)
  • Increasing the types of assessments conducted (think more multiple choice questions in exams, peer assessments, and online assessments)
  • Improving Uniwireless

University Timetabling

Recommendations

  • Moving to a preference based timetabling system, where you put in your preferences for classes and are automatically given a timetable based on that – where this has been done at other universities, in most cases, students are given their first or second preference
  • Opening up more classes slots earlier on (so you won’t have that situation where you select your class, check back a few days later and four other tutorial slots have popped up out of the blue). This means that there’s the potential that some classes will be cancelled if they don’t have enough students, but the University estimates that there will be more students who benefit from more class choice than who will need to be reallocated  
  • Letting students do their timetabling as soon as they enrol/re-enrol for the year (so in November)
  • Having more information about subjects (e.g. subject guides, Powerpoint slides from previous years) available earlier on, with the aim of reducing how many times students need to change their subject selection

Harnessing Virtual Infrastructure (i.e. how to use technology)

Recommendations:

  • Providing more online only subjects for those students who wish to be able to take an online subject.  
  • Using more technology so that assessments can be done and feedback given online
  • Using technology to encourage interaction between students (think online discussion boards, wikis, Peermark)
  • Creating a University-wide clicker system to allow lecturers to do more in-lecture polling

Optimising Physical Infrastructure (i.e. how to maximise space at uni)

Recommendations

  • Looking into the possibility of holding more classes outside of traditional class times – after hours, on the weekend, and during the summer and winter break
  • Making classrooms available as informal study spaces when they’re not being used for classes

Some of these recommendations could have really great results, but as always care must be taken to ensure that any changes do not negatively impact learning quality or course flexibility. We want to know what you think of them, so that we can represent your voices when talking to the University about them. Fill in our student survey at: https://goo.gl/forms/zszlNnXDlBaT0j7R2

If you’d like to read the papers in full, you can do so here: http://go.unimelb.edu.au/uy5a

And if you have any questions, please feel free to contact our Education Academic officers at educationacademic@union.unimelb.edu.au