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Course Design Intensives


CDI Evaluation project

In May 2008 Greg Benfield was awarded Brookes Student Learning Experience Strategy funding for a project to evaluate the Course Design Intensive (CDI) workshop format at Brookes.

A project team was formed of Greg, Richard Francis, the Head of E-Learning at Brookes, and Jay Dempster, an external consultant. Jay carried out the field work, data analysis and report writing between May and August and delivered her final report in October 2008. We are pleased to present the final report here, as well as the Executive Summary for separate download.

The evaluation was of the impact of staff participation in the e-Learning Course Design Intensive workshops run by OCSLD and Media Workshop since late 2003. It did not include investigating any of the CDIs we have run for other UK universities. The three research questions were:

  1. What pre-requisites for "readiness" exist in order for individuals, groups and/or institutions to benefit from the CDIs?
  2. What activities and/or outputs are most effective (as catalysts) in CDIs?
  3. What are the main indicators of success of the CDIs?

The evaluation took a grounded approach. Documentary evidence was examined from project reports, the CDI wiki site, summaries of workshop participants' feedback, Pathfinder briefing papers and relevant literature. Interviews were conducted with CDI workshop leaders and selected participants across 2003-2008 CDI workshops. Interview questions evolved over the schedule, based upon the premise of positive appreciation, where the strengths and unique characteristics of the CDI processes were analysed and critical factors highlighted.

The report is very positive about the CDI process, as the extracts at right show:

The CDI workshops, in supporting a highly creative process over a two day period, go beyond 'business as usual'.... The events were very well received by the participating staff and appear to have had a beneficial outcome in most cases."

Aspects of the CDI format that appears to work well are predominantly around the opportunity to meet as a course team, to brainstorm and have access to new ideas. There was good evidence that the balance of facilitator input and group activity is about right.

There is very strong evidence that visualisation of the course design has been a highly effective exercise in all cases.... However, most valued this as a process to reach a design consensus rather than as a re-usable visual output in its own right. The development of the necessary skills, knowledge, understanding and relationships to undertake effective course redesign for blended or distance learning purposes appears to be a key area of need, which the CDIs have helped start to address.

There are eight recommendations for enhancements to the process, many of which are being implemented already. You can find them in both the executive summary and the full report.
You can download the report in pdf format here:

Download the Executive Summary (pdf, 132 Kb)

Download the full report (pdf, 470 Kb)

Other publications

Benfield, G. (2008). "e-Learning Course Design Intensives: disrupting the norms of curriculum design." Educational Developments(9.4): 20-22.

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