Tyler Robinson/UCI

Introducing Launchpad: Learning in a Digitally Driven World

March 05, 2020 • By Xanat Hernandez

The Merage School has announced a new educational resource—Launchpad—that will help undergraduate and master’s students prepare to learn in a digital format. Launchpad is designed to help students test their readiness and manage their time as part of a larger digital learning initiative spearheaded by Dean Eric Spangenberg.

“We’ve created a digital learning experience unlike any other at the Merage School,” said Dean Spangenberg. “Our vision is to create learning environments accessible to every type of learner and we are continuously evaluating and evolving our approach to ensure we remain at the forefront of learning online.”

The Merage School, which recently announced that new undergraduate transfer students can complete their bachelor’s degree online, has invested significant resources in creating a cutting-edge digital learning experience for business students.

The team is led by Natalie Blair, director of digital learning, with a focus on crafting a “learner-centric design.”

“Our team’s goal is to create meaningful and effective learning experiences for all students, and we do this by investing over 200 hours of strategy and production time for each digital course design,” said Blair. “Every class is strategically aligned to the professor’s teaching style and is backed by measurable learning outcomes.”

Through the UC system, the Merage School is a member of the Online Learning Consortium, a professional organization that helps benchmark digital learning programs with over 72 quality indicators for higher education. This not only guides quality standards for learning online at the Merage School, it also ensures consistency across programs.

“In many ways, teaching digital courses has pushed me to become a better teacher,” said Professor Thomas Eppel.  “The process is much more than producing videos and presentations, we look for ways to engage students in innovative ways and help them master the topic.” 

The team begins by vision and strategy mapping. In this phase, a learning experience designer works side-by-side with faculty to identify learning outcomes and teaching strategies used to create an effective digital learning experience.

Next, Blair’s team enters the module mapping phase, where each week’s readings, discussions and assignments are transformed to the digital learning environment.

Finally, during multimedia mapping, they identify what content should be transformed into multimedia formats that will deliver rich learning experience equivalent to the traditional classroom. Students may be asked to submit video questions or engage in other interactive experiences to ensure learning success. Professor Max Chao, for example, has a Q&A style courtroom activity he calls “You Be the Judge.”

“Ultimately, a top-tier digital course increases access and gives students new experiences that will serve them throughout their entire academic journey,” said Blair.