(CS EdX Sessions) Neher, Alain

Title: Navigating the Complexities of Course Design: a course director’s perspective

Presenter: Dr Alain Neher (Assoc. Head of School)

Co-presenter(s): A/Prof Deborah Clarke

Faculty / Division: BJBS

School / Unit: Business

Session Type: Paper

When: Wednesday, 17 November 2021 @ 11:15am – 12:15pm)

Where: https://charlessturt.zoom.us/j/66905653654


Heightened by the global pandemic, Australian universities are experiencing significant financial challenges and hardship, with reduced income from international student enrolments. As such, universities are calling for rationalisation and optimisation of their course and subject offerings to maximise student–academic ratios and reduce costs associated with course infrastructure. In doing so, those tasked with the carriage for course design are faced with the challenge of navigating the complexities of refashioning or consolidating existing courses, and thus making them viable and sustainable in the future.

While the literature abounds with frameworks to guide course design (e.g., Adachi & O’Donnell, 2019; Thomson et al., 2017), there is a multitude of structural and procedural, organisational, relational, and micro-political factors that influence course design. Juggling the intricacies of Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) requirements and meeting industry accreditation criteria – whilst leading teams of subject academics with varying perspectives on discipline inclusions and adhering to the university’s learning and teaching standards – can prove to be a challenging undertaking for course directors.

This presentation reports on a new approach taken comprising crucial segments of co-creation and identifies the enablers and constraints experienced by a course director in an NSW regional university when tasked with the optimisation of a suite of Bachelor of Business courses. The presentation also illustrates the complexities involved in conducting this ‘revitalisation’ project. Learnings from the process are presented as recommendations for those academics responsible for future course optimisations and design. Attendees of this presentation will be provided with specific take-home messages contributing to the scholarship of learning and teaching.


Adachi, C. & O’Donnell, M. (2019). Degree Design Thinking: integrated design frameworks for emerging online degrees in higher education. In C. Y. W.Sharleen, C. K.Mun, & A. Alfieana (Eds.), Personalised Learning. Diverse Goals. One Heart., 36 (pp. 349-353). Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education (ASCILITE).

Thomson, E. A., Auhl, G., Hicks, K., McPherson, K., Robinson, C., & Wood, D. (2017). Course design as a collaborative enterprise: Incorporating interdisciplinarity into a backward mapping systems approach to course design in Higher Education. In R. G. Walker & S. B. Bedford (Eds.), Research and Development in Higher Education: Curriculum Transformation, 40 (pp. 356-367). Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia (HERDSA).