Student Voice Series – Learning at Deakin University with Ella Longstaff

Student Voice Series – Learning at Deakin University with Ella Longstaff

Student Voice Series – Learning at Deakin University with Ella Longstaff

OCT, 2019

Teaching & Learning
Student Voice
Students As Partners

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

How do students feel about their learning experience at Deakin University? I went out and interviewed students on campus to hear about their experiences whilst studying here and how they feel about their learning at Deakin. Most students agreed their basic educational needs are covered – i.e. appropriate facilities, teaching staff and resources. Ultimately it is still difficult to accommodate all types of learners. Despite being able to study in person and online, there are various benefits and shortcomings.

Some students think that classroom teaching is often repetitive and occasionally failed to motivate students to do well. One student from the Faculty of Business and Law described some teachers as being “too formal and repetitive”, which made the class “boring”. Creative ways of delivering content would go a long way to improve this.

“If a tutor does different activities to engage you, as opposed to just reading off a PowerPoint”.

Some students also indicated they preferred Work Integrated Learning or “hands on learning” which “is more attractive compared to other assignments”.

Above: Students Conversing on the Way to Class

In my own experience, the units I did best in had outgoing teachers that were fun and got us involved in group discussions and peer-assessment, rather than reciting unit content. I also feel it’s important to break down the teacher-student barrier and that teachers should show that they care for both our wellbeing and learning. One student mentioned:  

“I don’t know if…teachers care…Maybe they do and they just don’t show it”.

Classes on campus offer opportunities to ask questions in a group and one-on-one. Having group discussions in a classroom environment made students “psychologically more inclined to remember things”. However, some students found it difficult to attend classes due to the times allocated. This drives the transition to units or classes available on CloudDeakin, as it is flexible and can be accessed at any time. One student discussed the benefits of online learning as “a great way to catch up on lectures” if they can’t make it to a class. There are however, shortcomings of digital learning, as platforms like CloudDeakin offer a different type of engagement. Some students think these online spaces are too formal, aren’t as motivating and limited. I find this leads to lower participation in forums and online sessions. Personally, I feel it harder to engage online as I enjoy active energy of classroom learning.

Although CloudDeakin is a great resource for students and teachers, classroom learning offers a unique experience for learners. Having the opportunity to go to class and interact, structures learning around a different type of engagement. Despite the pros and cons of each experience, I believe that to enhance learning in a classroom and online, teachers need to find a more creative approach to engage different learners.

Some Useful Resources

For more on Students as Partners please visit DSL’s Students as Partners Sharepoint site here

Want new articles before they get published? Subscribe to our DTeach Newsletter.

Student Voice Series #02 with Rahul Masakorala

Student Voice Series #02 with Rahul Masakorala

Student Voice Series #02 with Rahul Masakorala
SEP, 2019
Teaching & Learning
Students as Partners
Good Practice

Digital Innovation
Rahul Masakorala, a student partner and intern from SEBE, works in Deakin Learning Futures, actively contributing to the Digital Learning Environments projects 3 (Collaboration and Portfolio). His is one of many student voices at the university shaping how projects are developed and strategies implemented.
In 2019, the DLE3 Digital Tools project – as part of the larger DLE-program – significantly contributes to the Deakin LIVE Agenda’s promise to “Provide a brilliant education where students are and where they want to go using elegant and engaging digital tools”.

Deakin’s Digital Learning Environments are diverse and complex. To grow our position as a world leader in premium digital – or CloudFirst – learning, the DLE 3 project aims to deliver the continuous improvement of, and cohesion between, these environments for the 21st century learning.

The DLE3 Project is defined by three project streams: collaboration, self and peer assessment and ePortfolio. Each project stream is built around a pedagogical framework or set of principles that supports the development of skills and capabilities to prepare our graduates for the future world of work and lifelong learning.

Recently the DLE3 Project has welcomed a student partner as part of a DLF internship program to help investigate, analyse, trial and evaluate educational technologies across project streams. Rahul, as a new addition to our team, reflects on his time with us at DLF:

“I am currently in my second year of my game development degree and joined the DLE3 team just a few weeks ago. The student as partners framework has allowed me to provide a student perspective when investigating digital tools in teaching and learning. While the teaching practices play a crucial role in selection of these tools, it is equally important that the tools are user friendly and the student feels they have a reason to use it, aside from being required to. My role working within DLE3 so far has let me bring up issues through trying out these tools for the first time and this feedback has informed the evaluation of digital tools. In addition, as Microsoft Teams and some of the other technologies being tested are present in the units I am undertaking, I can provide not only the ideas and problems faced by myself, but by other students in a way that cannot be represented with a survey.

As part of these evaluations, I have also had to look through the lens of the teachers perspective, which at times can be challenging, but I am beginning to understand some of the concerns and reasons for wanting specific features from a teaching point of view. The experience so far has been a learning one, being able to sit in on meetings with heads of faculty and be given equal opportunity to speak out and voice opinions on the tools being discussed feels less like a “peek behind the curtain” and more like an extension of what I do during my academic activities at university.”

Useful Resources

For more on DLE3 visit our Future State Architecture page here (staff access).

And for more on the Students as Partners initiative here is a publication by our own Deakin colleagues Milburn, L. & Jones, D. 2019

Want new articles before they get published? Subscribe to our DTeach Newsletter.