Harnessing the student experience for inclusive online learning design

Higher EducationHumanising Learning DesignStudents as partnersparticipatory curriculum developmentinclusive learning design
Traditionally, student leadership development within the co-curricular space has been a synchronous and in-person learning process. However, the advent of COVID-19 created a catalyst for the adoption of online learning in the co-curricular space. This chapter explores the theory and practice of online learning design from a student development practitioner perspective by means of a case study at the University of Cape Town. The case study serves to demonstrate the humanising of learning design practices using a participatory curriculum development process and adopting a students-as-partners approach. Furthermore, the case study concludes by reflecting on the benefits and challenges experienced by incorporating a participatory curriculum development approach into a learning design process.


In this chapter, we explore how conducting a participatory curriculum development (PCD) process with students as partners can create a more humanising learning design. These themes inform the design of an online and asynchronous student leadership programme during the COVID-19 pandemic. By means of a case study, we demonstrate how PCD transforms the standard ADDIE (Analyse, Design, Develop, Implement and Evaluate) (Dousay, 2018) learning design model through the infusion of lived experiences.

Background to the case study and the theoretical underpinnings

With the advent of COVID-19 and the resulting lockdowns in South Africa in March 2020, face-to-face classes were suspended and students were sent home to study remotely. To aid in this transition, the University of Cape Town (UCT) developed a framework for remote teaching during the pandemic. The framework provided a guide towards inclusive and equitable learning experiences for all students and highlighted the risks of reproducing inequalities in the remote teaching mode (Teaching Online Task Team, 2020). As a student development practitioner, I (Christine) found myself tasked with having to rapidly redesign the student leadership and induction programmes of the elected student leaders. At first, moving student leadership programmes online seemed a daunting task as, until the outbreak of COVID-19, our method of programme delivery had exclusively been synchronous and in-person. This had especially been the case given the prevailing belief that for leadership skills to be developed, face-to-face interaction and engagement was required.

To implement UCT’s framework for remote teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic, I adopted ADDIE (Analyse, Design, Develop, Implement & Evaluate) as the learning design model. ADDIE is a tried and tested model with an iterative and continuous evaluative feedback process flow. This allowed for a structured course of action to be outlined from a project management perspective without losing the design flexibility needed to cope with the ever-evolving operational environment and contextual landscape (Reiser & Dempsey, 2007). Going online asynchronously as per the aforementioned framework necessarily precluded a dearth of synchronous interaction and consequently a decoupling from one of the most humanising aspects of synchronous activity: relational proximity. The asynchronous nature of remote teaching necessitated a new model of student support vis-a-vis student leaders. Clearly, the process for designing a fully online Student Faculty Council Induction (SFCI) programme required something more than before, something that would create a stronger link between the development of the students and their now tumultuous environment. By adopting a theory-based-intentionality-of-practice approach (Immenga, 2021), I was able to draw on my experience as a learning designer. I opted for a participatory curriculum development (PCD) approach known as “students as partners” where I would include students in all aspects of the development of the programme.

PCD is understood as a multi-stakeholder approach to curriculum development that broadens the idea of the teacher-as-curriculum-maker (Craig, 2020, p.13). Taylor (2000) describes PCD as a process that allows for curriculum development to occur as a result of “the interchanges of experience and information between the various stakeholders in an education and training programme” (p. 94). The students as partners approach is defined as “a collaborative, reciprocal process through which all participants have the opportunity to contribute equally, although not necessarily in the same ways, to curricular or pedagogical conceptualization, decision making, implementation, investigation, or analysis” (Cook-Sather et al., 2014, pp. 6-7). Including students in the curriculum development process as partners would allow for students to act as experts of their own lived realities, and for these students to provide design insights that would greatly aid the student experience of the curriculum. This process would further allow for voices usually marginalised in a curriculum development process to exercise their agency, for the overall curriculum to have a more student-centred approach and as a result be experienced as more humanising (Cook-Sather et al., 2014).

In striving to work with students as partners to create an equitable and inclusive design process, I drew on the EquityXDesign framework (equityXdesign, 2016). A key tenet to the framework is the belief that to create an equitable product, the process must also be equitable. The framework provides five design principles: designing at the margins, starting with self, ceding power, making the invisible visible and speaking to the future. In this case study, the following principles proved to be particularly helpful:

Figure 1

Equity by design framework (equityXdesign, 2016)

PCD in practice: A reflective case study

Tasked with designing a novel online programme for the incoming student faculty council members, my first port of call was to assemble a design team. The design team consisted of 15 student leaders and one student development practitioner (Christine). The student leaders were incumbent faculty council members with two to three students representing each of the six faculties at UCT: Commerce, engineering and the built environment, health science, humanities, law and science. The design team was a diverse group with 10 members identifying as black, three as coloured, one as Indian and two as white. Regarding gender, there was an equal split, with eight members representing as female and eight as male.

As this was the first time that the student leaders in the design team were involved in a curriculum development process in such depth, I had to provide training on key aspects of curriculum development and learning design. We began with a workshop, outlining PCD and ADDIE. More in-depth training was strategically provided in stages as the ADDIE process unfolded (Table 1). We met fortnightly to work on this project and meetings consisted of short theory inputs, briefing of upcoming tasks and reviews of tasks in progress.

The following table provides a summary of the PCD process followed for the SFCI programme:

Table 1

Summary of the SCFI PCD process

ADDIE phaseThemesActivity (Laurillard’s framework)Artefact
Introduction to PCD and ADDIEAcquire
AnalyseIntroduction and theory input on analyse phaseAcquire
Conducting a training needs analysisInvestigateReflective report
Big picture objective of ProgrammeProduceReflective report
Developing personasProducePersonas
Context of learningProduceContext description report
Introduction to learning outcomes and constructive alignmentAcquire
Draft learning outcomesProduceLearning outcomes
Evaluation of phaseDiscussMeeting transcript
DesignIntroduction and theory input on design phaseAcquire
Introduction to the Universal Design for Learning principlesAcquire
Design programme and activitiesDiscussProgramme
Ordering learning activitiesDiscussMeeting transcript
Choose tools by considering affordance of toolsDiscussMeeting transcript
Creating an online community of inquiryDiscuss and ProduceCollaborative report
Evaluation of phaseDiscussMeeting transcript
DevelopIntroduction and theory input on develop phaseAcquire
Make the materialsProducePresentations, videos, diagrams, written resources, FAQs, Handover reports, manuals, guidebooks, scenarios, case studies
Presentation of materials for constructive feedbackPractice and discussMeeting transcript
Evaluation of phaseDiscussMeeting transcript
Reflect on implementationDiscussMeeting transcript
Evaluation of phaseDiscussMeeting transcript
EvaluateIntroduction to evaluationAcquire
EvaluateDiscussMeeting transcript
Evaluation of phaseDiscussMeeting transcript

Analyse stage

This section provides a broad overview of the tasks conducted in the analyse stage of the PCD process. Here, attention is drawn to the contextual considerations and personas offered by five design team members. The contextual description and personas are of particular interest as they draw on the lived experience of student leaders in which the student design team members are considered experts (Ní Bheoláin et al., 2020). The names of the members have been changed for anonymity and confidentiality purposes.

From needs analysis to vision

The design team realised early on that the COVID-19 context had changed the demands on student leadership due to asynchronous remote teaching and the complexities of the pandemic. Thus, we went back to the drawing board to design a completely online programme. The team conducted a comprehensive needs analysis, consulting the following stakeholders:

  1. Past and current faculty council (FC) members.
  2. Key staff stakeholders such as faculty managers, communications managers, deans and deputy deans and any other staff who regularly engaged with the FCs in the course of their representative duties.
  3. Student leaders such as class representatives or members of the students’ representative council (SRC) who frequently worked with the FCs were also consulted. Any student leader who had enough context and understanding of the role as an FC member could provide input in this regard.
  4. Broader student community: One of the FCs went as far as sending out a survey to their student constituency requesting feedback on what the SFCI should include.
  5. Personal experiences: Finally, and most importantly, the design team members were asked to reflect on the experience of their own induction and their experience as a student leader especially in the COVID-19 pandemic context. Noting that the student design team members were themselves the experts in this regard, their reflections were vital in determining the content the programme should include and how it should be delivered in a fully online context.

We then conducted a visioning exercise based on the needs analysis to determine the big picture objective of the programme. The team was asked to develop a vision for the induction in less than 150 characters by describing their main purpose or hope for the induction. These objectives were discussed and synthesised into an overall objective which guided the design and development of the SFCI.

Developing personas

The next step in the analyse phase was for the design team to create personas. We selected the personas in accordance with the EquityXDesign framework principles to provide a diverse and inclusive sample.

 Persona 1 developed by Sandile 

This fictitious council member is a foreign-born but South African raised black heterosexual male who is not in any way politically affiliated or interested. He is in his late teens or early twenties & is passionate about collaboration across all disciplines/degrees within their faculty [...]. He has an understanding that the administrative processes of his faculty are vastly different from those of the university at large [...] and wonders how integrated his role and that of his faculty council will be with the rest of the university. As a [...] student, his timetable is very rigid and does not always allow for the flexibility required to consistently attend gatherings or meetings [...]. In light of this, he remains committed to fulfilling his mandate as per the constitution. His one wish is to find and execute impactful ways of doing away with student apathy towards student governance and student-led organisations.

Persona 2 developed by Ayabonga

Born and bred in a small village in the Eastern Cape province, this fictitious council member is a black heterosexual male who hasn’t been in a leadership position like faculty council, not even any committee whatsoever. He used to think leadership is for everyone except scientists. On his first [...] field trip, his leadership was tested. He was appointed as a leader of his group. That’s when he realised his weaknesses and strengths. The realisation drove him to want to test his leadership even more because he wants to be the best in his field of work. He decided to join the faculty council, he knows that people in that council would have leadership experiences that he would learn from. His weaknesses: He has a soft voice and his English is not good which affects his confidence. He is scared that other members would mize [sic] his ideas because of the two weaknesses above. He wished the council to be as famous as the SRC since he hardly knew about the council until late into his second year.

Persona 3 developed by Dane

This FC member finds themselves for the first time in a leadership position of this calibre or just a leadership position. Everything is new for them and they are still trying to make sense of everything while everyone else seems to be “woke”.They have a passion for helping others – no doubt – but not sure how to utilise this passion effectively so that it translates to helping others; so they see this as an opportunity to challenge themselves knowing fully well that it will require much of them. He is prepared for the mistakes that he will undoubtably make but won’t equally turn away from. The passionate but inexperienced FC member.

Persona 4 developed by Fatima

This fictitious council member is a young woman of colour who has engaged in a leadership position as a class representative in their first year. They are a combined-stream student so this is the first time they are taking up a leadership position in the law faculty. They are passionate about many of the issues students face but feel demotivated by the administrative burden and apparent apathy within the [...] faculty. She feels stuck because she is not able to develop a “know-how” in navigating various systems within their faculty and the university at large. She struggles to navigate committees where lecturers she is taught by disagree with the contributions made by her faculty council. She also feels undermined in these settings because she is a student. She works part-time on weekends and struggles to keep up with all the demands – both academic and in student leadership. However, she cannot afford to stop working.

Persona 5 developed by Buhle

This fictitious faculty council member is a strong black woman who comes from a very disadvantaged area with few schooling resources. She has always imagined herself as a great leader of the people, being a helping hand and speaking on behalf of the voiceless. She has therefore challenged herself during her school years to partake in leadership roles such as representative council of learners (RCL). She believes that your background doesn't define who you are. And she is very passionate and driven, very determined to bring change and be the voice of the voiceless. That's why she decided to partake in different leadership roles during her schooling years. Through these roles, she has learnt a lot of different leadership qualities. However, this was her first time serving and leading such a large group of students. She was therefore willing to help other students but also she was scared that she would end up making unnecessary mistakes as she [doesn’t] fully know the expectations from her by the students. She [has] a busy schedule and sometimes it [is] difficult to attend meetings but her love and passion for the students challenge[s] her to fulfil her role to the best of her abilities. She [has] a great team working along her which help[s] her to strengthen her weaknesses and work towards improving them (Teamwork): “I would really appreciate if more students get to know about faculty councils because they are a great way of improving and learning about different leadership qualities which also contributes towards building the type of person you are”, she commented.

These personas proved invaluable in understanding the experiences of student leaders during the pandemic. How these personas shaped the design choices made by our team is further explored in the design stage discussion.

In trying to specifically design with the new context in mind, we reflected on the contextual considerations that needed to be considered in designing the programme. The following are extracts from the design team’s reflections. Participants emphasised engagement and inclusivity:

I believe that it is fundamentally important to ensure that whatever platform is used to have the induction is as inclusive as possible; it being non-synchronous, even if it is zero-rated uploaded recorded video on Vula [Ed. the institutional Learning management system] would be ideal. With that said, the content that really describes the functions, mandates, responsibilities and structures of faculty councils are buried in long, uninspiring and, sometimes, not reader-friendly documents. Thus, the inclusion of student-developed videos, personal accounts & attractive, reader-friendly and inspiring [explanations need to be included]. (Sandile)

I think we can offer a one-on-one portfolio section where the incoming chairs [have] Q&As with the current chairs. I think this will ease anxiety. (Ayabonga)

This is most probably the first time the FC program will be conducted virtually. […] With this in mind, there will be a need for asynchronous engagement with the content we will be presenting. For example, recordings of different parts of the program as opposed to one long video. This is to grant incoming FC members the assurance that they will have a source of information and guidance that they can refer back to and select the videos relevant to them at the time. (Dane)

Participants also emphasised ease of engagement and finding enjoyment in the programme:

When designing this programme, our main aim should be empowering future student leaders and not merely aiming to be informative. Knowing processes but also being taught tips and skills to overcome unforeseen practical obstacles should also be prioritised. We can ensure maximum attendance by prioritising the production of resources that are cell phone friendly. Engagement should be made as easy as possible with outputs being the main concern. Contextual factors we should take into account are data and resource concerns. Looking at creative ways to engage in low-data platforms like WhatsApp and Google Forms could be considered. We should aim to deliver content in short and concise manners where engagement is seen as a learning opportunity instead of a task. We should focus on practical scenarios and application of rules, policies and strategies in such circumstances. (Fatima)

I believe that in order to ensure that a large number of students attend we should ensure that we make this programme as fun and attractive as possible. We should therefore include eye capturing posters to inform students about it not just send a long email which can be boring at times. And we should adopt measures such as making audios to explain policies and rules as this will make it easier for everyone. So that they can be able to listen to the audio on their cell phones anytime they want to. And we should take note of the data and connectivity issues hence I think zero-rated platforms (e.g., Vula) should be used so that students don't have to struggle accessing the information. (Buhle)

Many of these reflections went beyond the ambit of the initial task, reflecting on the context and started considering how the programme design could be adapted to solve for the contextual challenges. These reflections and design recommendations proved useful in decision making discussions in the design stage that followed.

Design stage

In the design stage, we carefully considered the insights garnered from the analyse stage by drawing on the personas and contextual descriptions which revealed the experiences of student leaders. Consequently, several design choices were made:

Temporal considerations

Sandile depicted a rigid academic timetable, Buhle a busy schedule and Fatima described a persona who needed to work on weekends to sustain herself financially which made attending synchronous online events difficult. The important insight gained here is that students had competing factors that required their attention and time – this needed to be considered when designing the SFCI. Therefore, an asynchronous programme that is student-paced, whereby a student leader can work through the online programme and material at their convenience is a key design consideration. This consideration aligned with the guidelines provided by the UCT framework for remote teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Engagement and Community of Inquiry

Sandile reflected on the need to understand the relationship between the various faculty councils, the SRC and the institution. There is an interest expressed here to collaborate across student representative structures to fight student apathy. This can be achieved through encouraging participant engagement and the creation of a Community of Inquiry which would create the understanding and trust to work together on tackling institution-wide student apathy.

Lack of experience

Ayabonga described a persona that has never been in leadership prior to being elected to the FC and acknowledges that this persona can learn from their fellow FC members who have more leadership experience. The creation of a Community of Inquiry, where students can “collaboratively engage in purposeful critical discourse and reflection to construct personal meaning and confirm mutual understanding” (Garrison, 2017, p. 2), is vital in creating a trusting environment to facilitate this peer-to-peer learning.

Also, Buhle identified the importance of team building and working collaboratively as a team to succeed in student leadership. Team building in an online space would need to be intentional and the creation of opportunities for the social presence element of the Community of Inquiry would greatly aid the building of teams in the online space.

Feelings of alienation

The fact that students were feeling disconnected from the institution and each other as well as the anxiety created by all the uncertainty and challenges brought on by the pandemic would also need to be considered and addressed. Ayabonga suggested providing opportunities for student leaders to engage with their portfolio counterparts to decrease anxiety around what is expected of the new student leaders. Fatima took this idea further by stating that the SFCI should aim to not only be informative but also empower student leaders. She explained that students can be empowered by peers sharing tips and teaching skills.

Fatima further advised that all opportunities for engagement need to be as easy as possible and the design team must consider creative ways to ensure engagement occurs despite the asynchronous and online nature of the programme as this is paramount for the success of the programme. Online tools that facilitated engagement on multiple themes in many modes would need to be incorporated.

Student discourse and agency

Language is a factor raised in Ayabonga’s persona. By deciding that design team members should utilise informal language in their videos and materials, a relaxed space was created where students could engage to co-construct meaning and understanding. Also, the engagement on the learner management system (LMS) was run by the student design team members which meant that the student discourse was consistently used across the programme.

Fatima’s persona described a student leader who feels undermined by the power dynamic between staff and students in university committee settings. Hearing from peers about how they successfully navigated the power dynamics with staff whilst in student leadership is invaluable and motivational. Sharing these experiences would inspire and motivate the student leaders to exercise their agency in representing students in committees.

Maintaining interest

Both Buhle’s and Dane’s personas painted the picture of a passionate student leader who is not sure how to translate that passion into making meaningful change for their student constituency. The online SFCI needed to connect with that passion whilst also providing student leaders with the knowledge and skills required to be successful FC members.

As a starting point, Buhle correctly identifies the need to gain the student leader’s attention in an interesting and motivating manner to invite them into the SFCI learning space. The online programme then had to be designed in such a way as to convey all the key information in a manner that was not “long, uninspiring and [...] not reader-friendly” (Sandile). We needed to keep the student leaders engaged with the material without losing their passion or interest along the way. The content and its delivery had to be interesting, stimulating and fun. One way was to have peer developed materials for students to work through that were created within the student discourse using local and relatable examples. Sandile goes on to state that personal accounts and “attractive, reader-friendly and inspiring” explanations should be included. Examples and scenario-based questions should be developed based on a current student leader’s experience to ensure they are relatable and most importantly make them of interest to the student leaders undergoing the programme.

Dane suggests avoiding long videos but to rather have concise and content-specific videos that student leaders could easily refer to at a later stage should the need arise. Fatima builds on this idea by stating that the content should be delivered in a “short and concise manner where engagement is seen as a learning opportunity instead of a task”. By incorporating practical examples, scenarios where rules and policies can be applied and providing possible tips on strategies that can be embarked on, the content is made relevant and relatable and the student leader’s interest is maintained.


Sandile identifies the need to ensure that the SFCI is as “inclusive as possible”. Again, in designing the programme, Fatima advises that resource and data constraints need to be considered. To ensure socioeconomic challenges do not prevent students from engaging with study materials whilst at home during the pandemic, the Department of Higher Education and Training negotiated for university websites and LMSs to be “zero-rated” for data usage i.e. there was no financial cost. Sandile correctly identifies the need to ensure that content, links and videos were embedded within the LMS in such a way that they could be engaged within the parameters of the zero-rating.

Fatima states that to ensure an inclusive learning environment, all aspects of the programme featured on the institution's LMS should be mobile-friendly. Buhle advises that the method in which content is delivered should be multimodal to make the content accessible and user friendly to the student leaders in the programme. The multimodal delivery of content would allow for a student leader, who could not play a video as their home environment did not allow for this, to then read the transcript of the video, listen to just the sound of the video or read the captions as the video played. As determined through formative feedback as the process unfolded, home environments were often shared environments where students had to be cognisant of those around them when playing videos, as well as taking into account that often students had to use the quiet night hours to work through the programme as they had siblings and family members to tend to in the daytime.

Develop stage

Having determined the learning objectives and content of the programme in the design phase, we now turned to developing the materials, videos, graphics and resources for the SFCI programme. Noting that the university LMS had been zero-rated and was well known to the student leaders undergoing the programme, it was not a hard decision to opt to host the online programme there. The content themes that had been identified were allocated among the design team members. Each design team member was required to research the topic, develop slideshows and accompanying resources such as guides or diagrams. Members were encouraged to call on other design team members for guidance or assistance especially regarding providing relatable examples. As a mechanism of quality assurance, all materials were reviewed by the full team and formative feedback was given to each design team member. Members found this feedback process constructive and insightful.

Furthermore, whilst an overarching structure had been pre-populated onto the LMS to ensure consistency across themes, design team members were required to upload and construct the sections of the LMS that they had been responsible for. This assisted in ensuring that the instructional text and content remained within the student discourse. Once the final materials had been uploaded, a comprehensive LMS site testing was conducted by the design team to ensure consistency and that all the links worked, and that content was viewable and accessible.

The thematic content was further supported by numerous engagement tools to ensure the possibility of a Community of Inquiry within the site. The following engagement tools were built into the LMS:

It is worth noting that the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles of Engagement, Action and Expression and Representation were all woven into the programme. This was remarkable as none of the design team members had been formally taught the UDL principles. What seems to have occurred was that, in an effort to ensure that the programme was inclusive and equitable, design team members drew on their own lived experiences and instinctively wove these principles into the programme. This bears testament to how a PCD approach with students as partners can create a more humanising and inclusive learning design.

Implement and evaluate stage

Student design team member involvement was crucial in the implementation phase as the design team was required to be present and communicate with the FC members undergoing the programme through the various engagement tools built into the programme. This constant design team presence also allowed for formative feedback to be provided as the programme unfolded and for immediate and proactive amendments to be made to the programme. Insights could be garnered from the types of questions posed by the student leaders and as a result the programme content could be amended. Use of the of the Site Statistics tool on Vula was helpful in determining any unforeseen issues or in checking in on FC member’s activity of the site. For example, we were able to follow up with FC members who had not yet accessed the site or who had done so seldomly. Any problems identified through the constant formative evaluation of the programme could be immediately solved with a student experience lens. Furthermore, the programme could constantly be improved through either content addition or an agile intervention being put in place.

Concluding discussion

In reflecting on the case study, the benefits of adopting a PCD approach to online learning design were numerous. Working with an extremely diverse team in terms of race, gender, socioeconomic standing, cultural background, academic discipline and year of study, a multitude of perspectives and lived experiences could be considered when designing the SFCI. The diversity of the team allowed for the inclusion of marginalised perspectives and allowed the design team to co-create taking a variety of intersectional factors into account in the learning design process. Drawing on their own lived experience and those of their peers and constituents, the design team was able to create a curriculum that was extremely relevant especially to student leaders leading during the COVID-19 pandemic. The relevance of the curriculum was further enhanced by real-life examples from a local and relatable perspective. The programme was made more accessible and inclusive by being presented within the student discourse.

By incorporating students as partners into the PCD process, those students who formed part of the design team were highly invested in the success of the programme. Their enthusiasm in turn spilled over into the FC members who saw peers being inspiring which resulted in greater participatory interest in the programme. This ultimately led to the programme's success. Finally, what is most evident from this case study is that a PCD process with students as partners can enhance a learning design process and cause more inclusive and equitable programmes.

However, adopting a PCD process with students as partners does not come without its own challenges. As noted by Alexander and Hjortsø (2019), a diverse design team with varying experience, backgrounds and expertise can result in a complicated social negotiation when designing the programme. The diverse nature of the team in this case study in terms of race, gender, socioeconomic means, academic discipline and year of study made for robust discussions. These discussions were centred around the harsh realities facing students in the COVID-19 pandemic context and how student leaders as representatives of students needed to be prepared on sensitivity to lived realities different from their own. Discussions included the ability of student leaders to be able to support and assist students in what were very challenging times. Whilst difficult conversations were had and social negotiation took place, it is our view that these difficult conversations were executed respectfully and resulted in the team creating its own learning community. The learning community in turn became a safe space that was both supportive and nurturing.

Alexander and Hjortsø (2019) advise that a multidimensional and multidisciplinary PCD process can result in “chaos, such as breakdowns, conflicts or misfits” (p. 302). We were fortunate not to have experienced conflict but certainly some breakdowns in communications or the chaos associated with deadlines not being met resulted in delays. It should be noted, however, that because we were working in the challenging times of the pandemic, understanding and compassion were key principles underpinning the working relationship of the design team and this is likely the reason we were fortunate to not have experienced conflict. Where members of the design team faced challenges with a particular task, the others would offer to support and assist accordingly.

Another consideration is that the additional complexity of a PCD process with students as partners can result in longer design timelines. Working with students on a PCD process requires that students be trained in the elements of curriculum development. Furthermore, in an effort to yield an inclusive design product, the design process must also be equitable (EquityXDesign, 2016). To ensure an equitable design process, I, Christine, had to cede the power inherent in my positionality so that the students could be true partners. This was necessary to empower marginalised voices to engage fully and properly in the design process. This process of ceding power, although vital, took time and required trust. PCD is an extremely valuable process and has been shown to lead to more inclusive and equitable programmes but comes with its own limitations. Adopting a PCD approach requires time, capacity and resources that may not always be available to a learning designer.

In conclusion, it is the hope of the authors that this case study will inspire learning designers to broaden their praxis through the exploration of more humanising practices such as PCD and students as partners.


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Christine Immenga

University of Cape Town.

Christine Immenga is the Senior Coordinator of Student Governance within the Department of Student Affairs at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. She has been working in Student Affairs for the last ten years and holds a Bachelor of Social Science (Law, Politics & Classics) as well as an Honours in Classical Studies from the University of Cape Town. Her current pursuits include co-lecturing on the Online Learning Design course which forms part of the Postgraduate Diploma in Education Technologies as well as pursuing a master’s degree in Higher Education Studies with a research focus on participatory curriculum.
David Paul Redelinghuys
David Redelinghuys is a game developer with a special interest in developing educational games. David also spent the last two years as a part-time lecturer in the Faculty of Business & Management Sciences at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) where he gained first had exposure and experience of the online learning environment within a higher education setting. David holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business (UCT GSB) as well as qualifications in Project and Programme Management from Cranefiled College.

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