Wrap up of the Focus on First Year Teaching forum

Wrap up of the Focus on First Year Teaching forum

Wrap up of the Focus on First Year Teaching forum

23

March, 2021

Good Practice

The First Year Taskforce and First Year Communities of practice from each of the faculties came together on 23 February for the first of three whole of Deakin forums on first year teaching for 2021.

The focus for the session was the importance of building learning communities, and of creating the opportunity for ‘relationship rich’ learning whether students are online or on campus.

The forum picked up on feedback from students during 2020 that highlighted how much they missed the opportunity for building relationships with other students and with their lecturers while studying during lockdown. Some of the 102 staff attending used Padlet to share the innovative ways in which they were encouraging and supporting their students to engage and get to know each other. Suggestions included hosting weekly social drop in zoom catch ups, always responding positively to any discussion board posts and kicking off each seminar with a visual ‘vibe check’.

Those attending the forum were also given a comprehensive run down on how Orientation and DUSA’s program of events in 2021 will not only provide students with essential information when starting their studies, but will also offer a varied range of activities designed to both welcome and engage our new and returning students on campus.

Finally, participants were given a preview of the Practical Guide to First Year Teaching, a SharePoint site designed by the First Year Taskforce with assistance from Deakin Learning Futures, specifically to support those teaching level 1 units. The site offers practical suggestions with direct links to resources that teaching teams may find helpful in the early, middle and final weeks of trimester. The site is built around four key elements of first year teaching that research in the field suggests are critical to student success: reducing the cognitive load, making expectations explicit, developing academic literacies and building learning communities.

These key elements of first year teaching will be picked up throughout the year in First Year Community of Practice discussions and in further First Year Forums planned for later in the year.

If you are interested in taking part in these forums, please contact your faculty representative: SEBE- Janine McBurnie, Health- Lynn Riddell, Business and Law – Wendy Webber and Arts and Education – Petra Brown.

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Flexible learning at Deakin College – the journey so far

Flexible learning at Deakin College – the journey so far

Flexible learning at Deakin College – the journey so far

18

MARCH, 2021

Digital Learning
Good Practice

At the beginning of Trimester 1, Deakin College developed and implemented a number of changes to support students affected by COVID-19 pandemic.

Deakin College is a teaching-specialised organisation that caters to the needs of diverse students through smaller classes, increased contact hours, individualised support, and a team whose entire focus is quality teaching. Since 1996, roughly 20,000 students have entered Deakin University via a Deakin College pathway program. Over the last twelve months, nearly half of all international students entering Deakin University transitioned through Deakin College.

Block-mode learning

Deakin College’s specialisation, structure, and size allow for rapid innovation. As 2020’s Trimester 1 approached, the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic meant that students in China were unable to enter Australia a few weeks before teaching started.  In this short period, Deakin College developed block-mode learning, where a student completes only one or two units at a faster pace than a usual trimester. Achieving an 87% pass-rate and 95% retention, the block-mode result was in sharp contrast to Melbourne’s COVID-19 situation.

Deakin College was in constant communication with Deakin University’s Cloud team: Can students overseas access this website? Will this work if a student uses a Mac? We were learning from each other. Professor Liz Johnson, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Education agreed to assist Deakin College with fortnightly meetings aimed at sharing ideas as best practices emerged.

Deakin College’s exam and student feedback results arrived a few weeks before Deakin University’s results. Pass-rates slightly higher than the previous trimester, although student feedback scores were slightly down. This was a huge relief. Of course, this wasn’t an automatic result, it was a reflection of hard work and collaboration across the entire Deakin community.

The Flexible Learning Project

While T2 brought another small increase in pass-rates and a welcome uptick in student satisfaction, it was apparent that one of Deakin College’s strengths, increased contact hours, was leading to ‘Zoom-fatigue’ in our students. With COVID-19 restrictions and border closures sticking around for a while, it was time to revisit our teaching strategy.

Could Zoom sessions be cut in favour of more self-paced activities? For students in vastly different time-zones or students with other commitments, could equivalent asynchronous activities be developed? Could students choose on a week-by-week basis how they engage with study and still be successful? Dubbed the ‘Flexible Learning Project’, Deakin College sought to move from ‘replication’ to ‘reconceptualisation’ with Beatty’s (2019) ‘HyFlex’ approach as the aspiration.

Starting in October 2020 and budgeted at approximately 6,000 hours of teacher training and unit development time, Deakin College’s units have undertaken major changes: radically different LMS layouts, asynchronous activities, flexible attendance options, redesigned activities using a wider pool of technologies, and more.

The future of flexible learning at Deakin College

Week 1 of 2021’s Trimester 1 has just concluded and we’re again teaching on campus. It’s great to be back while offering increased flexibility to students. Where a unit has more than one class, when possible, both classes are run at the same time, one online and the other on campus, allowing students to choose either option while fitting in with their timetable. Labelled as ‘dual delivery’, units with only one class are webcasted from the classroom using PolyStudio cameras, in a way similar to board-room-style technology, the cameras automatically track the teacher around the classroom. And there might even be an asynchronous option for those that don’t want to attend at all…

Deakin College’s Flexible Learning Project is an innovative step with some unknowns, but is underpinned by hard work and supported by a dedicated and specialist teaching team. Further, the ongoing collaboration with Deakin University combined with the comprehensive support from our parent company Navitas ensures a commitment to both quality and continuous improvement.

Deakin College will be keen to share our data and lessons learned later in the year at the Deakin University Learning and Teaching Conference. Stay tuned!

For more information:

Les Hughes is the Academic Director at Deakin College. Feel free to get in contact via Les.Hughes@deakin.edu.au

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AAUT 2020 – The Professional Literacy Suite

AAUT 2020 – The Professional Literacy Suite

2020 AAUT– The Professional Literacy Suite

16

MARCH, 2021

AAUT
Rewards and Recognition

Dr Craig Parker and Assoc. Prof. Harsh Suri

Pictured left to right: Assoc. Prof. Kerrie Bridson, Ms Simone Tyrell, Dr Leanne Ngo, Assoc. Prof. Michael Volkov, Ms Sharon Chua, Ms Kim Phu and Dr Micaela Spiers

Ms Simone Tyrell, Assoc. Prof. Kerrie Bridson, Dr Leanne Ngo, Ms Kim Phu, Ms Sharon Chua, Dr Micaela Spiers and Assoc. Prof. Michael Volkov received a Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning for the development of program wide resources which support business students’ professional literacies.

The Professional Literacy Suite is an innovative and unique suite of digital learning resources scaffolded across a course within a business school context to support and motivate students to develop their professional literacy skills over their journey to graduation.

We spoke to Simone Tyrell and Dr Micaela Spiers about their citation.

How does it feel to have your work recognised by the AAUT?

Simone: It’s been a little surreal! It’s great for our work to be recognized nationally. It really validates what we’ve been doing. We thought the project was working, and we’d seen this in the students results, and it’s nice to be externally validated as well.

Micaela: It’s been a lot of work over a lot of years, particularly for Simone, and there were a lot of challenges. To have that recognized, the amount of hard work that has been put into this project – it’s a great achievement.

Tell us about your submission – what’s it all about?

Simone: With the Professional Literacy Suite, we’re scaffolding digital literacy across three degrees. We’re supporting the development of Digital literacy skills for Global Learning Outcome 3 (GLO3) and scaffolding employability across the students journey across their degree. We started with the Bachelor of Commerce and then expanded to include the Bachelor of Business and the Bachelor of Property and Real Estate. The goal is to scaffold across all the undergraduate degrees in the Deakin Business School.

The Professional Literacy Suite is a cross campus, cross unit, cross team collaboration that’s worked really well. I’m with the Library, and I’ve worked on the suite with other library team members, the Associate Dean, Teaching and learning, faculty academics, course directors and the BL Learning Innovations team. It was a really broad group of people, and the key to our success was our collaborative approach.

Micaela: The success of the Professional Literacy Suite is that we now have these modules that we can keep using, and we can keep updating, and we can put them in different units, and they can work across degrees. They add a lot of value to students and I think it’s a really great example of thinking outside the box. We had a problem, we came up with a way to address that problem and created a really good outcome for students.

What was the impact that your nominated work had on students?

Simone: We do a pre- and a post-self-assessment of the students, where they self-assess their confidence in their own digital literacy skills. When they finish, even the more confident students are rating their digital literacy skills much higher. We see a 30% boost in confidence levels as they go through. We’ve also had a lot of qualitative feedback as well, saying the student’s skills have increased and they’ve learned a lot.

Micaela: When we first introduced the digital literacy module, it was into a large core unit in the Bachelor of Commerce. That trimester we noticed a big difference in students output, in terms of the quality of their assignments compared to the trimester before, because of having done the module. Their ability to research and find information and use that information really improved.

Simone: The Inclusive curriculum and capacity building (ICCB) site did a study that was part of a HEPPP funded project and they found a 10% increase in grades for low SES students post implementation of the first digital literacy module, which was in a large marketing unit.

What value did you get out of the submission process for AAUT?

Simone: It’s a reflective process, because it makes you gather everything that you’ve done, all the information and all the data. It also makes you think about the journey along the way.

What was it like working with our Deakin mentors (previous AAUT winners) in developing your submission?

Simone: Our mentor was great. She gave us lots of feedback and was really supportive. It was nice to have a mentor that’s been through the same process before, so they know how to write a submission like this and give a lot of help along the way.

Micaela: I think when you’ve been working on a piece of work very closely, then you don’t necessarily see the gaps in the submission.  What a mentor does, in particular someone who doesn’t know the program of work very well, they can say, ‘well, what do you mean by this?’ or, ‘you’re saying this, but you haven’t evidenced that.’  That perspective is very helpful.

What advice do you have for Deakin colleagues who might be thinking about nominating for AAUT in 2021?

Simone: Get every bit of data, every bit of writing and every bit of evidence that you’ve got on your project. Give yourself plenty of time because the submission is a big piece of work. Use your mentor, pick their brains, and get other people to read it as well. Get as many people as you can to read it to make sure it makes sense. It’s worth doing if your work is something that you believe in and you’ve got the data to back it up.

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Guide to teaching large classes online

Guide to teaching large classes online

The guide to teaching large classes online

12

MARCH, 2021

Teaching Online
Good Practice

Some teaching is moving back to campus but many classes are staying online for now. In the Guide for Teaching Large Classes Online, we explore the platforms available for online classes (including Zoom, MS Teams, BbCollaborate Ultra and on-campus teaching spaces) to make it easier for you to plan your class.

We also explore how you can make your online classes as interactive and engaging as possible, through the use of polling, interactive whiteboards, breakout rooms and other simple tools. You can use these tools to emphasise and help students remember key concepts, check student understanding, discuss and share ideas, and help students connect with their classmates.

Read the Guide for Teaching Large Classes Online.

If you’re thinking about other ways to present content and concepts to students, and use video in your teaching, there’s lots of great tips and helpful guidance in CloudFirst 103. Enrol in CloudFirst 103 and check out Topic 5: Video and Audio to explore the benefits of using these media forms and how you can create simple but engaging video and audio resources for your students.

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2020 AAUT – Meet Dr Craig Parker and Assoc. Prof. Harsh Suri

2020 AAUT – Meet Dr Craig Parker and Assoc. Prof. Harsh Suri

2020 AAUT– Meet Dr Craig Parker and Assoc. Prof. Harsh Suri

11

MARCH, 2021

AAUT
Rewards and Recognition

Dr Craig Parker and Assoc. Prof. Harsh Suri

Pictured left to right: Assoc. Prof. Harsh Suri and Dr Craig Parker

At the 2020 Australian Awards for University Teaching (AAUT), Dr Craig Parker and Assoc. Prof. Harsh Suri received a Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning for their sustained and coherent suite of innovations to support international students in developing environmental and social responsibility and employability skills in the Master of Information Systems program.

We spoke to Craig and Harsh about their citation.

How does it feel to have your work recognised by the AAUT?

Craig: Personally, it’s been wonderful to get national recognition for our work. It was great to see feedback in the award notification letter saying how good not only our work was, but also the quality of the application. It’s just nice to know that our work is valued on a national level, not just important to us within our department.

Harsh: Craig and I have been working together since 2015 and what’s remarkable about Craig’s work is that he has a very honest engagement with the real challenges that students are experiencing. He actually engages with the lived realities of students, he doesn’t sit on a high moral ground and judge students. He sets very high academic standards, but at the same time he also provides empathetic scaffolded guidance throughout. So, to have that recognized is fantastic.

Tell us about your citation.

Craig: International students face real challenges around employment, a lot more challenges than domestic students when it comes to getting a job here in Australia. These issues relate to things like not having Australian work experience, as well as building the confidence needed to promote themselves to employers. Opportunities to work with industry are usually only offered in courses during capstone units or internship electives. I thought, how can I give students that real experience outside of those traditional opportunities?

Over the last five years I have been refining an approach where International students connect with real businesses to do their coursework assignment. An example is an assignment we do with industry around sustainability.

Harsh: Environmental and social responsibility is something that all business schools talk about for accreditation purposes. Students often feel that even if they learn about all these environmental and socially responsible behaviours, industry will be more focused on promoting profits. Craig has integrated the assignment with the industry. He asks students to go and source a problem from a real business owner and evaluate a potential sustainability solution in a large coursework unit. Students also develop important employability skills while doing this assignment.

Craig: The approach has presented a lot of challenges, such as how do you make sure that the assignment is different each year? Especially when you have little control over what businesses they’ll connect with or what sort of problems those businesses might have. That’s where the scaffolding aspect becomes really important. International students much prefer specific guidance to help them through that process. So, we created a report format that clearly indicated what sort of information they had to put into the report, and therefore what sort of things they had to find out from the business owner. There was scaffolding in terms of how to even approach businesses, how to get business owners interested in sharing information about their businesses with students for this assignment, and then how to interview them about their issues.

What was the impact on the students?

Harsh: So, it’s not just teaching students about sustainability issues or environmental issues in an abstract way, it’s about helping students build employment skills. I was recently in a carbon literacy training session, and in the UK and lots of other places they’ve actually started including carbon literacy in position descriptions. This is giving our students a competitive edge and showing them how they can walk the walk and not just talk the talk. We also redesigned the assessment so that students were required to actively seek, interpret, evaluate and act upon real life feedback from industry, their peers and their teacher to improve their solutions. Students in this program reflect upon employment skills in the introductory unit of this program and then build on this in multiple units through the program. They also engage with reflections from alumni who have successfully secured professional employment in Australia.

Craig: Often students initially feel that the process is too challenging, but as the trimester progresses, they discover that they can handle the assignment because they have the support. Students have submitted the report and given feedback about how it was a real challenge, but it was also a great eye-opening experience for them on how to seek employment.

What was it like working with our Deakin mentors (previous AAUT winners) in developing your submission?

Craig: Our mentor was just an absolute gem, and was instrumental in helping us to focus the application. The mentor’s initial advice was to identify three or four key strategies. Our mentor really got us to reflect on our core strategies and our core message that would run through the whole application. The advice was based on the mentor’s own experience, which made it even more compelling.

What advice do you have for Deakin colleagues who might be thinking about nominating for AAUT in 2021?

Craig: It’s worthwhile considering because it allows you to learn that there are things you’re doing that are really innovative and worth celebrating. There are also other things that can come out of the application process. For instance, we’re using a lot of the evidence we gathered for our application to write a journal paper. There’s a lot of benefit you can get from this sort of reflective process.

Harsh: If you think you’re doing some good stuff and your students are really benefiting from the work, I would strongly encourage you first to go and talk to your colleagues in the DLF faculty pods and draw upon them as critical friends to build your narrative. A strong message I would like to say to people is – you’re not alone. The second thing is, if you’re not successful with your application, it doesn’t mean that you’re not doing good work, it might mean that you just need to sharpen your narrative. There’s a lot of support within the University, within Deakin Learning Futures, with past successful recipients of awards and they’ll all support you and they’ll be with you in this journey. We are particularly grateful to Barbie Panther and Tony Joel for being our mentors through this process.

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