Collaborative Online Professional Development Design

Keywords: Professional Development, Research Supervision Training, Collaborative Design


COVID-19 has impacted not only higher education teaching practice, but also professional development (PD) such as F2F workshop sessions for supervisor training have had to pivot to online modes. This presentation overviews the process of designing an academic supervision training workshop as an online module that can be used as a design framework for other professional development and training contexts. We used a design-based research methodology (McKenney & Reeves, 2019) encompassing three stages.

Stage 1 Evaluation and Analysis

We formed a collaborative design team of two academics and a professional staff member and met regularly over Zoom as due to COVID-19 we were all working from home, and across countries (Australia and New Zealand). We began with an evaluation of the existing introductory supervision online module to identify key design elements and refinements that we could integrate into the new refresher module. This was followed by a collaborative definition of the scope of the new PD module that was focused upon providing a ‘Refresher Course’ for experienced higher degree research supervisors. We decided to focus the content of the module upon authentic user-generated scenarios from highly experienced academics across the university. User reflection was designed through an optional link to contribute to an institutional Wiki page to provide tips and comments from user experiences in supervision. The analysis of users needing an informative but short time investment in the refresher module highlighted the need for collating resources that would be referenced throughout the module to be made available at the end of the module as a downloadable interactive PDF resource for users.

Stage 2 Collaborative Prototype Design

An initial storyboard module prototype based upon learning object and instructional design principles (Boyle, 2003; Author1, 2007; Reigeluth et al., 2016) was created. While we began with big ideas based upon the rapid prototype of how to make the new module interactive and appealing to the users there were significant design restraints imposed by the institutional Course Builder online development platform, that provides a basic Web 1.0 approach to online module design and delivery. This meant that user interaction options were limited, file size uploads were small, and display dimensions fixed. Therefore, Vimeo was used to host and embed the video vignettes in the module pages through an institutional license providing a range of privacy and customisation options. We were able to negotiate these technical design hurdles, albeit with downgraded expectations of user interaction within our new module design.

Stage 3 Evaluation and Redesign

User feedback on the initial prototype was very positive and the user-generated video vignettes and funky iPad created graphics were highlights. Feedback also highlighted the need for additional user instructions, a more unified design across the module and implementation of accessibility features such as closed captioning for the video vignettes. This was achieved through maintaining a consistent font and paragraphing style and creating a new embedded player style format for the Vimeo video host platform. Closed captions were added by manually transcribing and timecoding the videos on Vimeo.


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Author Biography

Thomas Cochrane, MCSHE, The University of Melbourne

Dr Thomas Cochrane is an Associate Professor, Technology Enhanced Learning in Higher Education, in the Centre for the Study of Higher Education (CSHE) at the University of Melbourne. In 2011 he was awarded as an ASCILITE Fellow His research interests include mobile learning, web 2.0, communities of practice, and the scholarship of technology enhanced learning (SOTEL). His PHD thesis was titled: "Mobilizing Learning: Transforming pedagogy with mobile web 2.0". Thomas has managed and implemented over 50 mobile learning projects, with a recent focus upon Android and iOS smartphones and the iPad as catalysts to enable student-generated content and student-generated learning contexts, bridging formal and informal learning environments. Thomas has a peer-reviewed research portfolio spanning over 50 journal articles, 32 book chapters, and over 140 conference proceedings (, receiving best paper awards at ASCILITE 2009, ALT-C 2011, ALT-C 2012, and IEEE-TALE2018. He has been invited to keynote at several international educational technology conferences including: the 2012 Australian Moodle Moot, the 2012 m-Libraries conference in the UK, the launch of UWS massive iPad project in February 2013, the 2014 IBSA VET Practitioners Conference in Melbourne, and an invited speaker at EdMedia2014 (Tampere, Finland), and an Educator In Residence at the Disruptive Media Learning Lab, Coventry University in September 2015. Thomas was co-principle investigator in the two-year AKO Aotearoa funded #NPF14LMD Learners and Mobile Devices project that scaffolded and showcased best practice across six New Zealand higher education institutions. Thomas was an invited keynote at the University of Western Australia’s Mlearning Summit in September 2016. In 2017 he was a member of the team winning the AUT Vice Chancellor’s Teaching Excellence, Teaching Innovation Award. In 2017 he established the #SOTELNZ Research Cluster In 2018 he was elected to the ASCILITE Executive, and became one of the first accredited Senior CMALT holders in 2018. In 2018 he co-established with Dr Vickel Narayan the annual SOTEL Symposium, and the Pacific Journal of Technology Enhanced Learning (PJTEL) .

Thomas is an AJET Associate Editor, an editorial board member of RLT, BJET, and IJMBL, a lead editor of PJTEL, lead guest editor of the special collection on Mobile Mixed Reality for the Research In Learning Technology journal, and the coordinator of the ASCILITE Mobile Learning Special Interest Group. He is a regular reviewer for a number of educational technology journals including: AJET, CHB, IJMBL, JCHE, C&E, and IEEEAccess.

How to Cite
Cochrane, T., Arkoudis, S., & Benevento, C. (2021). Collaborative Online Professional Development Design. Pacific Journal of Technology Enhanced Learning, 3(1), 11-12.