Ross Woods, June, 2006
It's increasingly clear that people need to develop their materials into "ready to use" packages that are usable by people other than those who wrote them. We have lots of reasons for taking this direction:
- To give to your replacement instructor if you retire, get sick, have a very long holiday, etc.
- To simplify improvement of materials, and perhaps speed you on your way to writing your own textbook
- To simplify audits by having everything in a neat, sensible order
- To share with other parts of ACAS (to avoid re-inventing the wheel)
- To license out to other organizations for a fee
- and perhaps other reasons ...
What form will they take?
Many of them will be a CD of files or a website version of the CD.
How many units should it cover?
Most seem to cover a cluster of units. Some packages are just one unit, and a few cover a whole qualification.
What should be in it?
This will vary according to the package. Most packages will probably need most of the following:
- A set of at least basic instructions to the teacher on how to navigate it, even if it's just an easy-to-follow table of contents.
- Course and unit descriptions for students
- Recommended texts and DVDs
- Tasks and projects
- Meeting plans and session notes
- Assessment tools
- Instructions to assessors
How much progress have we made?
Not bad. We have a number of packages that are ready to go:
- The Perspectives course
- The forms and documents area gives a framework, some of it in a ready to go format.
- A few packages are in the on-line library.
- The more organized instructors already have all necessary documents for what they do.
How much time will it take?
Hitting the right balance between doing a full edit to polish everything in the package and packaging them "as is" will be a hard call.
It's the law of diminishing returns; at some stage, fine-tuning materials just doesn't produce value for the extra time it takes. You want to have something good enough for other people to use (understandable, neat and tidy, no typos), but it's not usually a good idea to re-write the whole lot from scratch.
How idiot-proof should they be?
We want more than a "Watch the video and read the discussion questions" approach. But they do need to be very easy to use.
Would it help people get the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment?
TAA students have to unpack the units from scratch, prepare sessions, write assessment tools, etc., so an instructor couldn't get the TAA for using ready-to-go packages. But they could get the TAA for writing and teaching them.
What about intellectual property rights?
In ACAS, they'd be subject to the same policy as anything else we write.
Because that way, everybody gets better materials.
How can we be sure that a package meets different local needs?
That is, will one set of documents meet everybody's needs? You'll probably only know after you've used the materials with a variety of students and revised them a couple of times. In some cases, we know that it won't. For example, a Diploma of Management could be contextualized to be specifically Event Management, or it could be specifically training management.
What possibility of forking?
When is it good to have two different packages to do the same thing? When is it not good?
- It's good if you have multiple student groups with very different characteristics (e.g. different literacy levels, access to different delivery modes).
- It's not good if it means wasteful duplication of effort.
When should packaging be mandatory?
Hmmm, not sure yet. Watch this space, but it's certainly a good direction to head.
What about publication for a wider market?
It's a good idea if you want to dress them up for a network of people you know and provide them "as is." It's usually not a good idea to aim for a mass market. It's only feasible if:
- the materials have been tested and improved a number of times with diverse student groups.
- your materials are unique in some way.
- there is a real market need for extra materials: you have a clear target market niche that is a big enough.
- you have the time, money and expertise to market it (or have a publisher will to do so).
- publishing is financially viable. (It might just be "minimizing losses".)