Teaching Students on Global Environmental Placements with Raylene Cooke and John White

Teaching Students on Global Environmental Placements with Raylene Cooke and John White

Teaching Students on Global Environmental Placements with Raylene Cooke and John White

04

NOV, 2019

Teaching & Learning
International Engagement
Work Integrated Learning
Located Learning

Raylene Cooke and John White are Associate Professors in the School of Life & Environmental Sciences, in the Faculty of Science Engineering & Built Environment.

Both Raylene and John are award-winning academics involved in structuring premium, highly-immersive located learning experiences in the workplace, wilderness and around the world. Their international offerings in the Bachelor of Environmental Sciences (Wildlife and Conservation Biology) are part of a greater scaffolded journey for students – taking them from theory, to practice and preparing them for employment.

Whether our students are in the jungles of Borneo on our environmental study tour, on a Global Environmental Placement conducting biodiversity research in the Peruvian Amazon or working in a rhino reserve in Uganda, they are challenged every day to see problems through the eyes of locals. There is nothing more inspiring than walking in the shoes of someone else, to get a clearer and more complete understanding of your discipline.

Above: Raylene & John
Right: Wildlife and Conservation Biology at Deakin Video

Below-left: The fire is at the centre of the culture of the indigenous Kelabit tribe of Borneo. It is an excellent place for students to discuss the environment and how its importance in indigenous culture.

Below-right: Student swimming with stingrays on their global placement.

Aside from an emphasis on guiding students through their educational and professional journey we hope to foster a deep intercultural awareness through opportunities for global engagement. Work placements or study tours overseas are offered at every year level of the Bachelor of Environmental Science (Wildlife and Conservation Biology) to ensure students have access to new global contexts to develop resilience, adaptability, cultural reflexivity, capacities for intercultural communication and enjoy a first-hand experience of wildlife conservation abroad.

At the core, our approach works around a scaffolded Work Integrated Learning path that guides students from first year through networking with industry and working in remote locations on complex conservation issues, to second year, where the students focus on teamwork and undertake professional placements overseas with international organizations. In third year students complete another professional placement but also receive training in articulating their skill set and developing professional and highly targeted resumes. Students in third year also undertake interview training and participate in interviews with a professional environmental recruitment agency. 

Above: Jungle trekking in the Kelabit highlands of Borneo.

 There is no doubt that many of our students start with highly idealistic and Western-orientated points. Our response in these global programs is to help our students shift their thinking from local issues with western ‘solutions’ to a different order of thinking that engages with the complex arena of global issues and cultural specificities. One tool to spark this train of thought is the Intercultural Readiness Check — a compulsory module taken before their travels. The check offers advice into how to best respond in new contexts and provides competency feedback to address how they might practically adjust their behaviour or thinking. This helps students approach the many situations they face abroad that require reflexivity and an attuned cultural awareness.

Fundamental to our teaching approach is the creation of a life-long community of learners, where students, alumni and staff feel part of a friendly and supportive network. This is an imperative part of the student journey (in terms of their learning experience and emotional support at home and abroad) and for their future fieldwork and careers after they finish their degrees (as many alumni offer opportunities back to graduates).

Above-left: Students coming to grips with how modernisation has impacted land use in indigenous landscapes. Understanding all change is not bad, and in fact may have benefits for conservation.

Above-Right: Student at Ugandan rhino reserve.

Below: Student placement  working with government agencies such as Sarawak forestry to understand orangutan conservation.

For others looking to run field programs here are a few tips:

1. Keep the students busy at all times during overnight field trips. I say this for a couple of reasons – the first is that when they are busy and engaged in the activities they can absolutely see the value in being away from home. If they have too much free time they can think “why am I here” and “we didn’t need to be in the field for this long”.  Secondly – keeping them busy keeps them out of trouble!

2. Make sure the students are well-briefed and prepared before the trip.  We have a lot of introductory material and activities that the students need to do beforehand so that they understand what is expected of them and it puts the whole field trip into context. When we first started running these trips 15 years ago we kept the activities a surprise but learnt over the years that the students are much better prepared and engaged when they know what to expect.

3. The staff. It is essential that you have engaged staff that want to be on the field trip. We have the same staff every year and it is the staff who make the trip. Engaged, enthusiastic, passionate staff are so important and the students absolutely love being in the field and learning from these staff.

4. A sense of community. This is also really important – especially at first year. The students need to feel part of community and we spend a lot of time before the trip getting to know each other and making sure that the students feel part of the group and are not anxious and worried about being away from home and not knowing anyone. On the trip activities are undertaken in small groups and these groups are different from the cabin groups so students are constantly working and connecting with different fellow students.  

5. Preparation! The field trips require a lot of preparation and organization. These trips are booked 12 months ahead of time and the organization and “thinking” never ends. They are a huge commitment in terms of staff time and energy and in many ways go well beyond the teaching allocations for units. BUT, the student experiences and outcomes are enormous both in terms of hand-on experience, technical and generic skills and retention. The Wildlife and Conservation Biology students are a very tight cohort who always support and encourage each other, and we believe this is because of the friendships and support groups they make while away on these remote field trips.

For more on how to structure international placements and study tours or the Bachelor of Environmental Sciences (Wildlife and Conservation Biology) please contact Raylene Cooke & John White.

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Inclusive Education the CloudFirst Way

Inclusive Education the CloudFirst Way

Inclusive Education the CloudFirst Way

01

NOV, 2019

Teaching & Learning
Good Practice
Inclusive Education
Digital Innovation
CloudFirst

 

Inclusivity is at the heart of Deakin’s values: we embrace difference and nurture a connected, safe and respectful community.1 Creating inclusive learning experiences for students is key, and the best way to achieve this is to consider inclusivity from the beginning of the design phase.  CloudFirst Learning Design offers one way to design for inclusivity. Deakin’s Inclusive Education Principles can be mapped to CloudFirst Learning Design, so staff are guided to consider key inclusivity elements from the start.

Many of the inclusive techniques used in CloudFirst Learning Design are simple and what we would expect of a ‘best practice’ design.

For example:

  • Clearly identify learning aims
  • Scaffold content, activities and assessments
  • Provide captions, transcripts and consistent heading levels
  • Design self-check opportunities complete with explanatory feedback
  • Build in opportunities for peer learning and social connections
  • Guide students through clearly-signposted learning pathways with study support resources embedded at key times.

Other creative techniques include, creating personas that represent the diversity of our student cohort, providing options in assessment tasks that give students genuine opportunities to demonstrate their learning in different ways, and representing content in multiple mediums such as imagery, video and audio.

Above: Inclusive Education Principles mapped against CloudFirst learning design.
These examples and other practical strategies were discussed at Deakin’s Inclusive Education Community of Practice August event, demonstrating that at Deakin, best practice is inclusive practice in learning design. You can view the presentation and other Inclusive Education resources at the CoP event page, or, if you would like to know more about CloudFirst Learning Design, please contact Darci Taylor.

1Deakin University. (2019). Values. Retrieved from: https://www.deakin.edu.au/about-deakin/values

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DLF Lunchtime Series #7 – How to build learner autonomy through branching narratives

DLF Lunchtime Series #7 – How to build learner autonomy through branching narratives

DLF Lunchtime Series #7:
How to build learner autonomy through branching narratives

30

OCT, 2019

Lunchtime Series
Teaching & Learning
Branching Narratives

Above: Danielle Teychanne

Presented by Danielle Teychenné, Interactive Media Developer in the Health Pod of Deakin Learning Futures, on the 29th October.

A step by step approach to building branching narratives for teaching and learning

Made popular by ‘Choose your own adventure’ books and digital games, a “Choice-Based Narrative is a story that allows for choices to arise at designated junctures within an experience” (Velissaris, 2017, p.16) and are a powerful tool for teaching and learning. 

These interactive experiences can foster student agency, problem solving and critical thinking; illustrating potential consequences that one’s decisions have on any given situation. With unlimited replayability, branching narratives afford students a safe environment for failure in which they can develop vulnerability that is critical for deep learning. 

 

Above from left to right: Julia Savage introduces Danielle’s Session; the audience engaged in activities; Danielle presenting.

Branching narratives can also offer students a perspective that is vastly different from their own, allowing the player to step into the shoes of a character –  which can promote empathy and understanding. With new generations of school leavers entering university, “storytelling is important to Gen Z. They care about seamless experiences and ongoing relationships — not transactions” (EY, 2016, p.). In our digital age, these narratives can provide a fun and enjoyable learning experience for students in which they are actively engaged. 

 With HTML authoring tools (such as H5P and Twine) it is now easier than ever to create and publish highly interactive experiences for student learning.  

 This workshop presented a step by step process of brainstorming and drafting a branching narrative, including vital story elements such as main message, character development (including motivations, backstory etc), conflict, twists and decision points. 

 Danielle will be hosting this workshop at Deakin Downtown on February 26, 2020.

_______

EY, 2017, From innovation to expectation — how M&E leaders are responding to Gen Z, EY, available here

Velissaris, N.: Making a choice: The Melete Effect and establishing a poetics for choice-based narratives. Ph.D. thesis (2017), available here

Useful Resources

Attached are Danielle’s slides and how to guide.

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DLF Lunchtime Series #6 – WIL at the Course Level

DLF Lunchtime Series #6 – WIL at the Course Level

DLF Lunchtime Series #6
WIL at the Course Level

04

OCT, 2019

Academic Integrity
Teaching & Learning
Teaching Capabilities
Lunchtime Series

Presented by Friedrika Kaider, Lecturer in the Arts & Education Pod, and, Lisa Milne, Lecturer in the Teaching Capability Team, of Deakin Learning Futures.

How can course directors and curriculum developers plan work-integrated learning strategically across the length of a degree?

In this presentation, Friederika and Lisa focussed on an authentic assessment framework that can guide the implementation of WIL at a course level. The framework demonstrates a progressive implementation approach from introductory WIL assessment (low proximity to a workplace) through to highly authentic assessment with high proximity to a workplace. An important discussion about the WIL needs of international students in post-graduate courses was facilitated in this interactive presentation.

Contact Friedrika Kaider or Lisa Milne for more information. The presentation is available via this PowerPoint

 

Useful Resources

The WIL at Course Level Powerpoint

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The Architecture of Resilience Studio – with Akari Nakai Kidd and Daniel Gibbs

The Architecture of Resilience Studio – with Akari Nakai Kidd and Daniel Gibbs

The Architecture of Resilience Studio with Akari Nakai Kidd & Daniel Gibbs
05
OCT, 2019
Teaching & Learning
Good Practice
Faculty Award
Award Series
Akari Nakai Kidd is a Lecturer in the School of Architecture and Built Environment (ABE), in the Faculty of Science Engineering and Built-Environment, and Daniel Gibbs is a casual academic and practising architect.
Recently the duo won a SEBE Teaching and Learning Award Citation for their effective team teaching approach and critical practice. The Arichitecture of Resilience Studio engages students to critically and responsibly address global scale built environment issues, and to reassess the roles and responsibilities of architects in continually evolving, diverse and ecologically fragile environments.

Akari and Daniel (and a couple of passionate students) shared their thoughts on their practice. Watch the video below:

Another recent article from the School of Architecture and Built Environment explores Susan Ang’s Intercultural Dialogue through Design project here.
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