The Course Resource Appraisal Model is a digital design tool that helps innovators construct a plan for improved learning benefits, and controlled teaching costs. It focuses on the costs linked to staff and student time, and the benefits linked to the types of learning and teaching, not benefits such as flexible study times, reach to off-campus students etc. One of its principal advantages is that it enables innovators to plan and understand the relationship between the expected learning benefits and the likely teaching costs.
The Model considers the learning process in terms of six types of learning afforded by the teaching media used, i.e. learning through: acquisition, collaboration, discussion, inquiry, practice and production. Each type of learning can be linked to some, but not all types of teaching method. For example, a large group lecture affords ‘acquisition’, whereas a tutorial affords more ‘discussion’ than ‘acquisition’, and a print-based study guide should involve the students in both ‘acquisition’ and some ‘practice’.
The only costs represented in this model are staff time, but they include time for planning, design, development, production and student support. Costs of equipment and infrastructure are not included, because these are also used across a range of courses, and are amortised over years of use.
The model does not represent learning outcomes, but instead represents intended improvements in learning in terms of proxy parameters, such as measures of the degree of personalisation offered. In the tool this is illustrated in terms of the staff-student ratios used for the size of each type of group.
The tool is best used, therefore, for planning. It can help to:
- clarify thinking about the purpose of a technology-enhanced learning innovation
- identify the key parameters that confer learning benefits
- compare conventional, TEL, and blended modes of delivery
- model alternative plans
- support an iterative approach to designing a plan against the cost it incurs
- capture the plan in a form that can be communicated and revised
- define the staff resource needed to realise a plan
- assess the per student cost of the teaching time for a course/module
This makes it possible for an academic or teacher using the tool to understand how to deliver personalised learning in a way that is affordable.