Experiences on Designing and Presenting a Level 2 Information and Communication Technologies Open University Module

Kouadri Mostéfaoui, Soraya and Wong, Patrick (2019). Experiences on Designing and Presenting a Level 2 Information and Communication Technologies Open University Module. In: Horizons in STEM Higher Education 2019, 3-4 Jul 2019, Kingston University, UK.


With the changes of the government’s funding regime on university tuition fees in 2012, the Open University (OU) students are now more likely to register to a qualification than a module as this enables them to be eligible for a loan. This causes more students studying multiple modules concurrently. Because of this change, many aspects of the module designs, such as alignment with qualifications, study patterns and pathways, need to be carefully considered. This paper uses the design of a new Level-2 module to discuss how these challenges are addressed.

TM255 is a new 30 credits Level-2 module designed to introduce a broad range of information and communication technologies (ICT). TM255 is a core module for the networking pathway of the BSc IT and Computing qualification. To address the emerging issues from the change of qualification alignment, aspects such as students’ workload, employability and value for money were carefully considered. The module materials are divided into 22 weekly study parts. This enables students to plan their study time more easily. To enhance study flexibility, a mix of printed and online materials were used to deliver the module. These are supported by a wide range of multimedia content such as videos, screencasts and online tutorials.

Apart from building students’ knowledge of ICT concepts and principles, the module also develops students’ academic, practical and employability skills such that they can apply the gained knowledge in a variety of practical situations. Communication skills such as reading and writing technical reports and evaluating information are developed and assessed throughout the module. The module includes a number of practical activities that are based on real-life scenarios. Another important component is group working. Four to eight students are grouped together to jointly develop a website using the popular collaborative website building tool, Wordpress. By providing students with synchronous and asynchronous communication tools, and encouraging them to discuss matters among themselves through assessed forum-based discussion activities, this enables them to build a strong sense of learning community and enhance their learning experiences.

Students are assessed through a combination of formative and summative continuous assessments and a summative End of Module assessment (EMA). Each block is assessed by a summative Tutor Marked Assessments (TMA) and a thresholded formative interactive Computer Marked Assessments (iCMA). The small threshold (30%) applied encourages students to engage with the iCMA yet they will not fail the module easily if they do not engage fully. The EMA includes a 4 week individual project, in which students will build a website to explain a new ICT concept. Apart from assessing students’ ability to learn the new topic independently, this approach enables emerging topics to be covered by the module. To pass the module, students need to achieve an overall average score of at least 30% on the TMAs and EMA, and an average score of the two components of at least 40%.

This paper presents the challenges encountered in designing TM255 and provides a preliminary discussion of the issues faced by the module team.

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