(1) These guidelines provide advice to Unit Coordinators in planning, organising and running intensive schools. These guidelines should be read in conjunction with the Intensive Schools Policy.
(2) An intensive school is a mode of teaching and learning that brings students together at a particular location for a period of intensive interactive learning experiences. The location of an intensive school can be a physical location or an online location or a combination of both.
(3) Mandatory intensive schools must be attended because they provide learning outcomes that cannot be achieved in any other way. Schools may be required by accrediting bodies or be supervised field trips and/or require use of facilities at a particular location. Mandatory Intensive Schools may not be conducted outside of Australia.
(4) Non-mandatory intensive schools may be held where alternative ways of attaining the desired learning outcomes are available but an intensive school may be a more attractive way of attaining defined learning outcomes than the alternatives. However, an alternative way of attaining learning outcomes for non-attendees is required.
(5) Student benefits include:
(6) The potential costs to students should be carefully borne in mind when planning a course or unit-based intensive school:
(7) Unit Coordinator benefits include:
(8) Unit Coordinators costs include:
(9) The benefits of intensive schools to the University are that they:
(10) University costs include:
(11) The rapid development of learning technologies provides many alternatives for student learning that should not be too demanding to manage. Learning resources, such as audio files (including podcasts), video files, multimedia interactive packages, web URLs, etc., can be provided via the Learning Management System. Students can then engage in a learning process either by the completion of set tasks, such as traditional essays or assignments, or through the construction of other evidence of learning, the creation of a piece of work (physical or electronic), or other creative outputs — either individually or as part of team. These have become common support mechanisms for higher education teaching in Australia. However, such technologies can be combined with webcams and virtual worlds to support innovative approaches to electronic intensive schools.
(12) Opportunities may exist in other centres such as TAFE colleges or businesses that might be used as learning sites when particular equipment or resources are required.
(13) Some learning outcomes demand that particular physical or intellectual skills are demonstrated. The use of video or webcam conferencing and virtual worlds to interact with the student to assess skill development might be considered in the context of both physical and online intensive schools. UNE has an extensive video conferencing system with availability through the Access Centres and partner institutions in capital cities and major centres. UNE has also conducted considerable research into the use of webcam technology.
(14) Even without attending intensive schools, students will have the opportunity to use the more traditional electronic communication tools embedded in the University learning management system to build virtual learning communities to assist in the completion of the 'default' learning tasks. Electronic learning systems allow more of the learning interaction to be student-to-student, rather than being directly mediated by the academic — whose role can be focussed more on structuring the learning opportunities and providing validation of the learning outcomes.
(15) A key question is: how are the unit or course learning outcomes to be attained? You must be clear about the learning outcomes of your unit or course.
(16) An intensive school has to be worth the investment for all involved.
(17) Once an intensive has been advertised, students will start to organise their life and travel and will incur commitments such as leave, childcare, travel and accommodation. For these reasons, mandatory intensive schools are cancelled only under the most exceptional of circumstances.
(18) For all intensive schools requiring a minimum number of students (normally ten) or a non-mandatory school that may have too few attendees to be cost-effective (for students and staff), students must be strongly advised in the online unit information to make refundable arrangements in case a school is withdrawn.
(19) In exceptional circumstances, the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic) may approve the cancellation of an advertised intensive school on the advice of the Head of School. Heads of School should note that compensation may be payable to students who demonstrate that they have entered into non-refundable commitments.
(20) Intensive schools can take many forms. Traditionally, intensive schools have been residential schools at the Armidale campus, using classrooms for typical face-to-face teaching, such as lectures and tutorials, or for laboratory or practical work.
(21) Locations of intensives schools can be chosen for the convenience of the students, but also for access to other resources, such as libraries or galleries, particular technology, or access to industries or businesses that may provide a compelling learning context. Often, businesses are pleased to be participants in learning situations, as it is both a promotion of their activities, and a chance to recruit potential new staff.
(22) Collaborative generation of digital resources, such as creating multimedia packages, or building group wikis, can be effectively conducted in a face-to-face intensive school with powerful learning outcomes. Not all students need to have computers: with three or four students clustering around one computer it is possible to have intensive learning occurring. Similarly, the UNE video-conferencing system can be used to connect with national or international sites that may stimulate learning interactions, or be used to 'bring in' students unable to physically attend an intensive school, but able to reach a video-conferencing centre, or with a webcam-enabled computer.
(23) Intensive schools can be conducted entirely online without any requirement for actual physical attendance. UNE produces technological guidelines to assist staff in implementing the technology.
(24) On-campus intensive schools should be held during the official intensive school periods specified in the Principal Dates because infrastructure such as the Library may have limited services outside these dates. Greater flexibility can be achieved for online intensive schools and these can be scheduled at any time with the permission of the Head of School.
(25) These are held before the official start of the teaching period and provide guidance, skills or curriculum content or context required before teaching starts. Enrolment may be very close to the intensive school. Although students are informed during online enrolment of Intensive School requirements, opportunities such as e-mailings, bulletin boards, web pages, etc., should be used to remind students that failure to attend an early mandatory intensive school means that the unit enrolment must be cancelled.
(26) Exemption from attendance at a mandatory intensive school is not possible except under the most limited of circumstances (see Notes below). Students who do not attend a mandatory intensive school are withdrawn from the unit. Withdrawals applied after the census date, or after the last date for withdrawal without academic penalty, incur the HECS liability and/or the academic penalty.
(27) A student who is repeating a unit and has attended its mandatory intensive school is assumed to be re-attending unless exemption is granted by the Unit Coordinator from re-attendance. Exemption is not automatic as the unit or intensive school requirements may have changed. Students seeking exemption must do so before enrolling in the unit and if granted exemption, must notify the exemption to Student Administration and Services to avoid having their enrolment cancelled automatically for non-attendance.
(28) A student may, at the discretion of the Head of School, have alternative attendance arrangements granted for part (but not all) of an intensive school, where the Head of School is certain that professional or statutory accreditation is not compromised by the exercise of such discretion. The Head of School's decision is final on whether to exercise this limited discretion and what alternative arrangements for attendance will be required.
(29) Paragraph 13a(iii) of the Intensive Schools Policy is commonly applied through a formal UNE-company/industry/institutional agreement that includes an analysis of the comparison between the work experience/ or credentialed learning and the learning experiences and outcomes a mandatory intensive school. Individual applications for exemption of attendance at a mandatory intensive school outside of formal agreements are acceptable but the same recorded analysis of the comparison is required. Unit Coordinators must ensure that exemption under paragraph 13a(iii) does not compromise any professional or statutory course accreditation and a record is added to attendance registers to ensure exempted are not failed or withdrawn from units.