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Dr Sue Brown, Federation University, Australia

Director of International Sport Management at Federation University in Victoria, Australia, Dr Sue Brown, is leading a project to deliver a wholly online bachelor of International Sport Management degree in partnership with the World Academy of Sport. And it’s not just another online course, she tells The PIE.


Photo: Federation University

"As we grow we really want to feed into Europe"

The PIE: How did this opportunity come about for Federation University to be involved in this?

Sue Brown: We were approached by the World Academy of Sport at the beginning of 2019, and asked to put forward a proposal. We were up against other universities in the UK and the USA, and we were chosen as their preferred university.

We’re also delivering three of the first year courses of the undergraduate degree as part of the International Baccalaureate career related program as part of the career related studies for international sport management, which is quite a new thing for our university.

“You need to prepare students with digital literacy to be able to feel confident to work and learn online”

And it was always going to be delivered online because we want to make it a truly global degree and to be able to do that it needs to be online. So we’ve been working on that since October last year and there’s a huge amount of work that we’ve actually achieved even in that short time in designing the content, and designing the online course delivery.

The PIE: We’ve seen a lot of learning move online because of the global pandemic, with mixed results. What sets this degree apart?

SB: It’s being designed from scratch for online delivery. It’s not converting it to a face to face delivery and then converting it to online. We’re actually designing it and putting in all the right scaffolding and online pedagogy to design an engaging degree.

What we’re finding is that it’s really important that you need to prepare students with digital literacy to be able to feel confident to work and learn online. They need to have the confidence and an understanding where they access information, how they access it and how they engage online. So we’re making sure that we put in the right resources for that to happen before they even begin.

We are making sure that the content is delivered in a way that’s really engaging for them. And then, of course, the last part is, is that the type of content needs to be contemporary.

It needs to be constantly reviewed so that it is contemporary so that when the students come out of this degree, they will be employable. At the end of the day, you know, for the majority of students who are doing an undergraduate degree, they’re doing it to get a job.

And I think that that will set us apart, particularly in our partnership with the World Academy of Sport and providing those opportunities for students to engage in real world practices and even have the opportunity for internships as well with some of the industry.

“It needs to be constantly reviewed so that it is contemporary”

The PIE: How have you developed content to ensure it is truly globally relevant?

SB: From an academic perspective, it’s fair to say that our current offering in this sport management was very much made for the Australian domestic market. The content there was very rich from an Australian standpoint.

But going into a truly international sport management degree, we have had to learn about the world, and what’s happening at the international sports federations, what’s happening at the International Olympic Committee, what’s happening even at the United Nations level with the sustainable development goals and how sport fits into it.

The PIE: Has your partnership with World Academy of Sport helped with that?

SB: The World Academy of Sport has helped us with providing that sort of insight. It’s quite a unique partnership which allows us to get at the forefront of what’s happening with some international federations, sports federations, even the IOC with the challenges they’ve experienced, with the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics.

We’re able to take those learnings and we’ve got the education expertise that we’re able to take that knowledge and then put that into the online learning space for students.

And I think with that combined, having the industry knowledge and having the education and knowledge, bringing that together we’re really hoping we can have something pretty special out there and will put us right at the forefront in the world with this degree.

The PIE: Where are you expecting to draw students from?

SB: The Asia-Pacific region is where we’re focusing just the initial intake, and as we grow we really want this to feed into Europe, and India is another area that there is interest from.

The PIE: You’re also preparing to share your learnings?

SB: Yes, we’re going to also research. We’re going to learn about the online environment. We’ve got this unique opportunity to actually look at how students are engaging with the online so we will start to measure and learn from that and hopefully we can add to online higher education knowledge as well.

We’ve also got intentions to publish papers as we get the findings in and then maybe within the next 12 to 18 months in journals.

** The first cohort of students will commence in March 2021

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