Getting started with Students as Partners

Getting started with Students as Partners

Getting started with Students as Partners

13
SEPTEMBER, 2021
Student partners
Teaching & Learning
Team Collaboration
It may be your first time, or it may be your one hundredth, whatever your experience is, it’s always a good idea to reflect before starting a Students as Partners (SaP) project.

There’s a lot of interest in students-as-partners these days – and for good reason. Partnering with students benefits both staff and students. Staff develop greater insight into student needs and experiences while students gain valuable employability skills and create a legacy to support the next generation.

But while the benefits of partnership are well known, getting started can be tricky.

Deakin’s Students as Partners Framework sets out four broad approaches to students-as-partners to help you consider how to approach a new partnership project. For example, maybe your goal is to get as many student ideas as possible to provide feedback on a new policy. You might take a ‘students as sounding boards’ approach and set up an online poll, or virtual discussion board, for students to submit feedback and ideas.

Alternatively, run focus groups with a specific cohort of students to understand their use of various support services. Rather than do this alone, we’d recommend you take a ‘students as influencers’ approach and hire a couple of student partners. Together, you can develop focus group questions, facilitate the session, and analyse the findings.

More information about the four approaches, and examples of how they might work, are available on the Students as Partners SharePoint site.

Graphic of four approaches to students as partners. 1. Students as sounding boards. 2. Students as influencers. 3. Students as decision makers. 4. Students as co-creators

 

Regardless of the approach you decide to take, it’s critical to reflect on two key questions before you begin:

  1. Am I truly open minded about what the outcomes or outputs of this project may be? (i.e. am I ready to share this project with student partners?)
  2. Do I have the time in my workload to support the students successfully in this project?

The questions are important because authentic partnership requires a commitment to the process of exploration and relationship-building with students, both of which can take time.

Finally, it’s important to remember why we engage in partnership in the first place – to respect and appreciate the expertise students have in what it’s like to be a student.

Successful partnership projects are mediated on the idea of reciprocal learning. Staff learning about students’ lived experiences, and students learning from staff about a discipline, project management, or how an organisation works. So before beginning, ask yourself, ‘What am I going to teach or share?’ and ‘What am I going to learn?’

To find out more, contact Dr Mollie Dollinger (mollie.dollinger@deakin.edu.au) to chat all things SaP.

You can hear from Dr Mollie Dollinger first-hand and learn more about getting started with a Students as Partners project on our latest Tales of Teaching Online podcast episode.

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DeakinDesign is set to transform digital education

DeakinDesign is set to transform digital education

DeakinDesign is set to transform digital education
24
JUNE, 2021
Digital innovation
Teaching online
Assessment

Everyone working in higher education has been affected in some way by the unprecedented changes that we’ve seen in the sector over the past year. COVID-19 forced all Australian universities to adapt to the rapid transition to online and blended learning. While these changes have brought many challenges, they have also created opportunity for innovation in the ways we deliver teaching and learning experiences. Deakin’s extensive experience in online education has been fundamental in our rapid shift to wholly online delivery. This history of innovation in online education is central to our new educational transformation initiative: DeakinDesign.

DeakinDesign projects 

DeakinDesign is a University-wide program that proposes innovative changes to our distinctive model of digital education. In 2021, the program will begin the investigation phase of the two key project areas: Integrated Learning and Re-imagining Examinations. The project teams will be reaching out teaching and learning staff as well as students to gather insight on these two areas. This cross-University collaboration is central to the success of the overall program, and we need you to be involved. 

The Integrated Learning project aims to move beyond traditional notions of blended learning to build a new model that harnesses digital, physical and human connections to build learning communities. The Reimagining Examinations project aims to reimagine end-of-trimester exams, focusing on authentic assessment that produces work-ready graduates for a post-COVID future. 

Both of these projects recognise that the delivery of premium quality learning experiences to suit the diverse needs of learners and graduates in a changing digital world, requires a re-imagined approach to education.

Deakin staff – get involved 

The success of DeakinDesign will depend on collaboration with teaching teams and students across the University. There will be multiple opportunities to contribute your insights and ideas about online and blended learning. If you have been exploring innovative ways to blend different types of student experiences or alternative types of final assessment we want to hear about it. The Project Leads will also be looking for early adopters to pilot elements of DeakinDesign in 2022. 

Find out more 

Deakin staff can contact the Project Leads to share your story or register interest to be part of the early adopter group. Contact Integrated Learning Project Lead Darci Taylor, and Reimagining Exams Project Leads Kelli Nicola-Richmond and Leanne Ngo 

To find out more about the projects and keep up to date with project news, visit the DeakinDesign SharePoint site and download the DeakinDesign FAQs. 

Watch the video DeakinDesign: A conversation with Liz Johnson and Darci Taylor to find out more about the program. 

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Our first virtual Learning and Teaching Conference

Our first virtual Learning and Teaching Conference

Our first virtual Learning and Teaching Conference

25

NOVEMBER, 2020

Digital Innovation
Good Practice
Teaching Online

The 2020 Learning and Teaching Virtual Conference ran from 16 to 20 November with the theme, ‘Critical conversations, challenges and celebrations’.

For the first time ever, this year’s conference was delivered entirely online, through Zoom sessions, virtual tours of learning spaces and an MS Teams channel that staff could use to connect. Those that attended could also access virtual posters, videos, podcasts and a Padlet wall for shared reflections.

With over 300 registrations, this was one of the biggest learning and teaching conferences that Deakin has ever held. Each of the sessions was highly attended by both Deakin staff and students.

The conference opened with a keynote address from Professor Liz Johnson, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education, sharing the pillars of the Education and Employability plan – What will I learn? How will I learn? How will I be supported? There was also a reminder that students are at the heart of everything we do.

Student led sessions

This year’s conference saw more Deakin student participation than ever before. Students shared their experiences of learning from home, inclusive design, authenticity, starting first-year during COVID-19, peer support and the Deakin Launch Network.

Touring virtual learning spaces

Attendees had the chance to experience other units and learning environments through virtual tours.

Amanda Edgar, Ryan Wood-Bradley and James Armitage presented a tour of the virtual optometry clinic. The tour showcased how H5P, facilitators and problem based learning came together to support first year optometry students to develop complex clinical skills such as communication, clinical decision making, teamwork, patient centred care and evidence-based practice.

There were also presentations and papers exploring online tours of construction management sites, simulations in midwifery, the virtual architecture design studio, and virtual tele-health.

Learning through narrative and storytelling

Many of the sessions explored the theme of narrative and storytelling and how it can raise the level of student engagement in teaching and learning. Dr Kerri Morgan’s session ‘Choose your own adventure – exploring mathematics another way ‘explored how gamification could be used to support students, who traverse a setting of Ancient civilisations on a quest to find a number of mathematical artefacts.

The human library

Attendees could also borrow from the human library, a collection of Deakin experts who were on loan for a one-on-one conversations during the conference. The ‘human books’ available in the library covered a diverse range of learning and teaching subjects, such as cheating and assessment security, managing online communities, leadership in learning and teaching and the importance of equity during COVID-19. The human library was very successful, with limited availability filling up within 24 hours of opening.

Access recordings and resources

Deakin staff members can view recordings of sessions and access virtual posters, videos and podcasts on the 2020 Learning and Teaching Virtual Conference webpage as they are uploaded across the rest of this week. To access recordings, visit the conference program and select a session.

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How do students feel about their teachers and feedback?

How do students feel about their teachers and feedback?

How do students feel about their teachers and feedback? With Ella Longstaff

03

FEB, 2020

Students as Partners
Teaching & Learning

Feedback
Wellbeing

I’m Ella, a third-year communications student currently working as a Communications Support Officer and Student Partner in Deakin Learning Futures.

In a survey of students on campus, several undergraduates shared their experiences with teaching staff. Among some challenging experiences with tutors, students generally felt that most of their teachers genuinely cared about their progression and wellbeing. One stated the “majority of teachers…really care”, especially when they get to know students “on a personal level”. These students not only appreciated this personal approach, but also expressed a desire to connect with their teachers as they felt supported and valued, and this pushed them to do better.

The complexity of teacher-student relationships brings into question how students also respond to feedback. It’s important for students to obtain good feedback so they can improve and to adapt their work. This is the foundation of their learning and is a key reason to why students even come to university.

Many students had received relevant feedback and felt that their teachers really cared about their learning and wellbeing. On the other hand, some students indicated they received little to no feedback, and that teachers weren’t interested in their progression at university. Despite being able to communicate with teachers about classwork, these students still felt they were not receiving enough guidance and support. This type of detailed feedback was important and useful for them to enhance their skills for future assessments — as you can determine what you did well and what you can improve with more clarity.

Another common perspective was that If you invest in the subject and do the work, the majority of teachers will invest back in you and give you support and guidance. Again, some students disagreed, suggesting that multiple tutors hadn’t given enough feedback and that “it should be a requirement for tutors to give proper feedback to each assessment and to each student.” I personally understand this feeling — there’s no point in doing an assignment without receiving feedback, as the same mistakes are likely to be repeated.

The way students received feedback also was often questioned as the written word also lead to misinterpretations. One student studying Health Science mentioned that it can be frustrating if feedback is made “too general” and if tutors “don’t give constructive feedback”. Lecturers have often been under scrutiny for only giving negative feedback and not focussing on the elements of a task where students have performed well.

Beyond any of the noted issues that the student body faces in engaging with teachers and receiving feedback, one student summarised the general feeling of teaching at Deakin: “the majority of teachers are doing a good job and I’m very appreciative of that”.

It’s important to consider these varying student perspectives for our staff to strive to understand the student body better. And, having teachers who show a genuine interest in their student’s studies and wellbeing can go a long way in creating a positive impact on their social and learning experience at Deakin.

*To find out more about how you could partner with students in projects please contact learningfutures@deakin.edu.au

Resources

Bovill, C. (2019). Student–staff partnerships in learning and teaching: an overview of current practice and discourse. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 1-14. doi: 10.1080/03098265.2019.1660628

Deakin University. (2019). Deakin Students as Partners: A guide to enhancing the student voice across Deakin. Retrieved from here

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“My opinion matters” – Students as Partners in Curriculum Design

“My opinion matters” – Students as Partners in Curriculum Design

“My opinion matters” – Students as Partners in Curriculum Design

02

DEC, 2019
Students as Partners
Teaching & Learning

Digital Innovation
Collaboration

Ever wonder what your unit would look like if students designed it?

That’s a pretty radical idea – staff expertise and guidance is essential to the learning experience. But it is possible to partner with students to co-create and co-design your curriculum – what might that look like?

In the CloudFirst CoDesign Project, we worked in partnership with Prakash Jha, a Master of Business Analytics student, to identify opportunities for student involvement in curriculum design. Using Deakin’s new Students as Partners framework we co-created the Student Participation Matrix to show how students can be involved as sounding-boards, influencers, decision-makers and co-creators.

Involving students can help you identify challenging areas, find new ways of presenting information or help develop a shared understanding of unit standards (which also develops students’ evaluative judgement!). For example, if students find it tricky to understand assessment requirements, you could partner with past students to redesign the assessment rubric, or create supporting resources – like this video by Law students Ruby Cordner and Brody Wons with Course Director, Sharon Erbacher.

If your students are from different disciplines, ask them to help you choose case studies relevant to their interests and career goals. Or start at the beginning, and bring a group of students together to find out what they thought worked really well, what was challenging and what could be done differently next time. 

Staff-student partnerships have benefits for both staff and students, including enhanced engagement, improved classroom experiences and assessment performance, a sense of belonging and trust, and enhanced relationships and wellbeing (Bovill, 2019). As Prakash explained:

“This collaborative approach helps both staff and students. While the academic team gets students’ perspective and feedback from their recent experiences, students too get some benefits such as feeling more invested in their education, taking responsibility for their learning and getting experience in co-creating the learning materials with staff.”

Prakash Jha – CloudFirst student partner

To find out more about how you could partner with students in curriculum design, contact us (d.taylor@deakin.edu.au or joanne.elliott@deakin.edu.au). As for the ‘why’, we’ll let Prakash have the last word!

“I have been learning through Cloud Deakin and classroom lectures, but this internship gave me opportunity to understand the effort and the process behind the unit design. Every day, I felt that as a student my opinion matters, and I felt important. In fact, I felt that I can bring a difference, a positive change by sharing my experience about my learning journey. And this is the best experience for me so far.”

Prakash Jha, CloudFirst student partner

*To support more staff to engage with student partners, Deakin has launched a SaP Community of Practice – contact Jo Cook to get involved. And keep an eye out for next year’s National Students as Partners Roundtable (28th August), hosted by Deakin, to share your experiences and learn from others.

Resources

Bovill, C. (2019). Student–staff partnerships in learning and teaching: an overview of current practice and discourse. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 1-14. doi: 10.1080/03098265.2019.1660628

Deakin University. (2019). Deakin Students as Partners: A guide to enhancing the student voice across Deakin. Retrieved from here

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A Students Perspective of Microsoft Teams with Joan Sutherland & Rahul Masakorala

A Students Perspective of Microsoft Teams with Joan Sutherland & Rahul Masakorala

A Student’s Perspective of Microsoft Teams with Joan Sutherland & Rahul Masakorala

04

NOV, 2019

Teaching & Learning
Good Practice
Digital Innovation
DLE3

Above: Joan Sutherland & Rahul Masakorala

Joan Sutherland, Senior Education Developer sits down with Deakin student Rahul Masakorala, to explore his perspective of Microsoft Teams – the good, the bad, and otherwise. 

Collaboration is a hot topic in digital learning, particularly how it can be effectively applied as a learning strategy and to engage students, many of whom arrive with advanced digital experience and expectations. At Deakin University, we aim to augment these experiences with platforms that are used in the relevant industries, so as to ensure our graduates are ready for their world of work.

 The School of IT have done exactly that by reviewing their collaboration projects, consulting with industry and implementing Microsoft Teams to facilitate this collaboration. Microsoft Teams is a ‘collaboration hub’ that operates in 44 languages and is currently used in over 500,000 organisations – including 91% of Fortune 100 companies. So, when the School of IT were sourcing a solution for their collaboration projects that mimicked the world of work, they implemented Microsoft Teams. 

Useful Resources

For more on potential tools in the DLE 3 Collaboration stream and microsoft teams please visit the Collaboration page (staff access).

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