When creating a series of courses that build into an ExpertTrack, Partners may have existing ideas, content, or courses. At FutureLearn we have organised these into four categories.
Creating - Creating a brand new series of courses that do not currently exist
Converting and combining - Using existing Partner short courses within the FutureLearn platform to create a new series of courses
Migrating - Moving courses from an existing platform or VLE to a FutureLearn ExpertTrack
Unbundling - Adapting existing programmes, degrees or Microcredentials to the ExpertTrack Model.
With each of these four categories there are similarities and differences to enable the creation of the ExpertTrack.
Similarities across ExpertTracks
- Deciding the ExpertTrack level and confirm weekly learning outcomes across courses
- Designing assessments to conform to ExpertTrack functionality and map across courses
- Designing discussion prompts and other calls to action for unfacilitated interactions
- Include text in early and late steps of each course to help signpost the learner journey between courses
Additionally there are some considerations specifically with regards to Assessments
- Ensuring there is an assessment journey - a considered distribution across all courses.
- Thinking about supporting learners with assessments: a new step at the beginning of course 1 which outlines all assessments could give them valuable visibility of what’s coming up.
- Building in simple ‘revision reminders’ : steps where learners are instructed to revise/prepare for summative tests.
- Considering the connection between time on task and the number of marks available - overly complex and time consuming PGAs will potentially be off-putting unless they’re a significant contribution to the entire overall mark. Keep in mind that assessments will increase the overall course learning hours.
Differences across ExpertTracks
When creating new courses, Partners will need to consider the overall ExpertTrack Big Questions, Learning Outcomes, Assessment Plan and the Narrative across the entire ExpertTrack as well as those used in courses and weeks.
Converting and Combining
When converting and combining courses, Partners should consider whether the courses are sufficiently well connected to form a series of courses that follows an appropriate narrative. There may also be duplication of tasks, content, learning outcomes and assessments throughout the original courses which, when combined into an ExpertTrack, need to be adjusted or removed.
Discussion prompts and assessments will need to be adapted to reflect the always available, unfacilitated model.
If Partners are migrating from another platform or their own institution’s VLE, much of the content may already exist. All courses on the ExpertTrack model are unfacilitated and always available. This will impact on assessment design and social learning prompts and discussions. A bank of discussion prompts is available for Partners to use or adapt. Partners should also remove any links to resources that are only available to learners at their respective institutions (This may include institutional library resources, memberships, or software).
Unbundling an existing set of courses that already exist on the FutureLearn platform may be a cost-effective way of repurposing content for an ExpertTrack. As with migrating, attention should be paid to adapting assessments and discussion to be unfacilitated and references to institution resources should be removed. The number of hours for these courses may require some adjustment. For unbundling this is usually reducing the number of hours.
Hours of Learning
More detail on the shape and structure of ExpertTracks is provided in the “What should I consider when making an ExpertTrack?” guidance. This section specifically discusses the approaches to increasing or decreasing the learning hours.
Increasing Learning Hours
If the balance of hours across the weeks, courses and ExpertTracks is significantly lower than is desirable, there are a number of additional steps Partners can take to increase the learning hours:
- Consider using peer-graded assessments, these will require much more in-depth learning from the learners than a test or quiz in completing the assessment, grading their peers and reflecting on their grade.
- Consider off-platform tasks that can be completed by the learners, for example, reading or practical tasks or theoretical work.
- Add social learning prompts that are learner-led to encourage participation, reflection and sharing of knowledge.
Decreasing Learning Hours
If the hours in an ExpertTrack is too high, as may often be the case with Migration or Unbundling, Partners may consider the following:
- Reducing the volume of content in the ExpertTrack course or week, whilst maintaining the overall level of the ExpertTrack
- Adjusting the Learning Outcomes and Assessment to be pitched at a lower level than the previous collection of courses.
In both of the examples given above, Partners should ensure that the learning outcomes, content and assessment are still aligned and learners have access to all relevant materials to complete the course. To assist partners in assessing their existing courses’ appropriateness for ExpertTrack e.g. for converting and combining, migrating and unbundling, we have provided a template article which may be helpful.