Established in 2003, COFA Online is an academic unit responsible for the development and management of a wide range of fully online and blended undergraduate and postgraduate courses in art and design disciplines at the College of Fine Arts (COFA), The University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney, Australia.
UNSW is celebrating its 60th year of operation in 2009! It has an enrolment of approximately 40,000 students, and is the leading international university in Australia with over 10,000 international enrolments from over 130 nations. UNSW is also ranked as the top university in 2009 in the Australian Government Learning and Teaching Performance Fund for the quality of its teaching.
Innovative Online Education in Art and Design
As detailed in the Online Courses and Programs section of this website, COFA Online offers a range of fully online learning opportunities in art and design disciplines, allowing flexible, yet incredibly personal and interactive learning experiences for students both locally and internationally.
Professional Development Training and Support
The COFA Online team has a depth of experience in online pedagogy, curriculum and assessment development, staff training and online teaching. In order to create an effective and collaborative community of practice for staff training and course development, COFA Online academics Rick Bennett and Simon McIntyre created what was to become a series of ‘COFA Online Course Author Fellowship Programs’ the first iteration of which began in 2004. Academics from different institutions, along with industry professionals from a range of disciplines are able to join specially devised Fellowship Programs to learn how to write and teach both blended and fully online courses.
Fellows undertake a carefully designed training program, which includes face-to-face workshops and regular online communication between meetings. Fellows are given comprehensive instructional planning notes and readings to support the practical assistance, mentoring and developmental peer review processes that are part of the programs. By participating, educators are given the chance to be part of a community of practice that shares the same goals, to discuss ideas and teaching methods with peers. The training programs are not specific to any one discipline, but rather are focused upon developing learning outcomes, and designing the best means to achieve these in an online context. By focusing upon online pedagogy, the community can draw upon different disciplinary viewpoints to frame their approaches in new ways – to maximise the potential of their online teaching approaches.
We have found that so much can be gained by sharing experience and knowledge amongst colleagues. In this age of digital connectivity, it is possible to expand small localised communities to include academics and teachers from all disciplines and institutions around the world. We have developed the Learning to Teach Online project so as to freely share knowledge about online learning and teaching with a wider audience of like minded individuals with a passion for pedagogy led online learning and teaching. The project allows free access to online learning and teaching development resources, and an online community of practice in which teachers can share ideas, find help and get involved in innovative online teaching initiatives.
A Gateway for the Art and Design Community
At COFA Online, we believe that creativity thrives through the free sharing of ideas. This is why we are committed to sharing our discussions with leading local and international artists and designers with everyone around the world for free through COFA Talks Online.
Online Learning and Teaching Research
COFA Online's research and evaluation of online pedagogy, teaching practices, professional development and management issues surrounding online learning is integral in the continued development of innovative practice. We constantly evaluate our teaching and training programs, and are always investigating new ways to advance online pedagogy and practice. You can view COFA Online's current and past research in the Online Research at COFA section of the website. If you are an academic who is also passionate about online learning and teaching, and are interested in developing a research partnership with COFA Online, please contact us.