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UNSW Global's University English Entry Course (UEEC) delivers transformational online learning incorporating best educational practices

Continuity of University English Entry Course (UEEC) incorporating best educational practices amidst COVID-19
Continuity of University English Entry Course (UEEC) incorporating best educational practices amidst COVID-19

Attracted 590+

unique learners in 2020-2021

Generated 10,800+


Delivered 20 intakes

in 2020-2021

Success rate of over 90%

of UEEC students progressed directly to UNSW
UEEC is for the upper intermediate-advanced cohort and prepares learners for entry into university if they have received a conditional offer from UNSW but do not meet the UNSW English entry requirements. The majority of the students have an existing undergraduate degree from a non-English speaking country and are wanting to pursue their post-graduate degree at UNSW. The purpose of the UEEC program is to develop skills, strategies, and knowledge to support learners on their high-level academic English journey.

The Challenge

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UNSW Global UEEC program had to move its teaching online. They were faced with decisions about how to continue teaching and learning while keeping their staff and students safe from a public health emergency that is moving fast and not well understood. The COVID-19 pandemic was an opportunity to create a better online learning experience and build a strong learning community for students.

Therefore, some of the key challenges include:

1. Maintaining a high level of student engagement

A key focus was shifting the approach of being passive learners (receiving content) towards engaging with the content (by becoming active participants of the learning experience). How do we maintain a high level of engagement with students? And how does that look online?

2. Transforming 100 hours of lesson content to asynchronous learning via the OpenLearning platform

How do we harness the range of functionalities and features that the platform offers?

3. The learning designers from the two teams had to quickly collaborate and adapt to support the teaching and learning of students affected by COVID-19 measures

The two teams needed to make decisions such as: Which features to utilise? How are we going to create a strong sense of learner community? What activities were going to be designed?

4. Training requirements for teachers and students in navigating the OpenLearning platform.

How will training take place? How intensive should they be?

The Solution

The two learning design teams from UNSW Global UEEC and OpenLearning collaborated together to transform the 100 hours of paper-based lesson content into a carefully sequenced, scaffolded set of activities that made up the lessons in the course using a range of widgets, tools, and functionalities available with the OpenLearning platform. The two teams worked collaboratively involving UNSW Global supplying the first unit of the lesson to OpenLearning, in which a prototype was then designed in response to the OpenLearning team by transforming the content and translating it to a range of activities. This enabled UNSW Global to see how it could look like, and provide necessary feedback until final sign-off, before moving on to the next unit.

The design strategy and model of the UEEC program aim to enable learners to:

  • Gain experience with different learning strategies, by working independently and collaborating with others;
  • Improve English language capability when speaking and listening, reading and writing, and using vocabulary;
  • Learn about academic conventions, such as academic writing styles, essay writing, and note-taking in lectures.

The online learning environment is designed to encourage strong peer-to-peer and teacher-to-learner interactions, lively communication that lasts throughout the course, multimedia-rich learning, and the creation of meaningful content. The OpenLearning platform makes this possible through:

1. Independent and collaborative learning

Learners complete different types of activities in the course. Some activities are done independently, while some require collaboration with others in the class.

2. Question-and-answer activities

A range of question-and-answer activities helps learners to practice and demonstrate their language skills. For example, learners might read some text and answer questions to show their comprehension. Their responses are visible to the teachers, who then provide private feedback.

3. Sharing activities

Sharing activities encourage collaboration and learning from one another. Learners share their thoughts, ideas, and answers with the other learners in the class. The conversational style of activities helps learners to experience different ideas and perspectives. Through this collaboration, they build language skills in ways that they wouldn’t be able to do alone.

4. Chat rooms

A major part of this course develops speaking and listening skills in the English language. That means communicating person to person. So, on some screens in this course, learners are directed to the Groups page, where they will be able to access a chat room to talk with other learners through a video conference. These chat rooms are a great way to practice discussing topics in English.

5. Group activities

Learners are assigned to a group of 3-5 people to collaborate on group activities.

The Results

Overall, the project roll-out proved to be a success.

The program's success can be reflected by:

  • The positive feedback received from learners in relation to the course content;
  • The overall design of asynchronous and synchronous learning methods;
  • The logical structure of the activities and functionalities of the OpenLearning platform; and
  • The highly-talented teachers.

UNSW Global - The University English Entry Course

UNSW Global, owned by UNSW Sydney, offers pathway programs for international learners. Of these, the “Academic English Programs” is a key enabler for international learners to succeed at university by improving their English skills. The University English Entry Course (UEEC) is tailored for learners wanting to directly enter a UNSW Diploma, Bachelor, or Master’s Degree. UEEC prepares international learners for entry into university once they have received a conditional offer from UNSW Sydney, but have yet to meet the UNSW English entry requirements.


Sydney, Australia



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I’m in love with this online learning. It feels like I’m playing a video game and I can see my rate of progress. The course has a checkpoint where I can complete my mission and take a break. Besides, I can share my feelings with my teammates. AWESOME!
Zhuoyang Zhou

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