What students think of Deakin extension tools and special consideration

What students think of Deakin extension tools and special consideration

What students think of Deakin extension tools and special consideration
22
OCTOBER, 2021

Digital Learning
Teaching & Learning
Learning Innovations
Team Collaboration

At Deakin, students apply for extensions and special considerations to help them complete their assignments. Deakin student Shelby, supported by the Office of the Dean of Students, collated real-life stories from students who have used these support services before to better understand the experience. These were her findings.

Overall, the students I spoke to were satisfied with the extension tools and special consideration process.

‘My experience with the tool has been relatively pleasant since the format is user-friendly and straightforward. It doesn’t require a lot of ‘preparation’ to apply for extension.

 

‘Mailing the unit chair [for extension] was helpful because she was able to direct me to certain websites/phone numbers to contact if my anxiety got worse. While the extension website/cloud Deakin site also has this information, it was a very comforting and accepting situation to have the unit chair reassuring me.’

Although the process was smooth, some students felt that the deadline updates on the CloudDeakin sites could be improved. One student noted:

‘Having an approved extension on the email but not on the cloud Deakin site gets very confusing and anxiety-inducing. I have, in these cases, had to email the unit chair in urgency to confirm if I have indeed received an extension (since the email mentions an extension but the cloud site drop box isn’t always updated).’

Another student, unfortunately, did not have a good experience when applying for their extension:

‘I was applying for the extension with my access plan because I had a serious flare-up of my condition that started just before the trimester began. I emailed the [lecturer] with my access plan asking for a one-week extension. [They] asked to call me in the reply, so I agreed thinking [they] wanted to help me check I was going to be fine like my lecturers normally do. However, when I answered the phone, I was met with a concerned voice asking how I was going to be able to do medicine* if I can’t be organised and do the basic assignments.’

The student’s request was successful, but they remembered feeling questioned and humiliated during the process.

How can Deakin staff better support students to improve their study experience during a pandemic?

After speaking with students, here are my recommendations:

  • Ensure all Deakin students are aware of the extension tools and special consideration process. Posting details on CloudDeakin’s news at the start of every trimester could help those who need to apply.
  • Understand that students with pre-existing medical conditions or disabilities might experience more difficulties due to the pandemic.
  • Reflect the new deadline on student’s CloudDeakin unit site once an extension has been approved. This helps to reassure and provide students with more certainty – something that is very much needed as we make our way out of this uncertain pandemic climate.

*All student stories have been anonymised and details have been modified to protect their identity. This project was funded by the Office of the Dean of Students, Student-Initiated Project fund.

 

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Engaging students in real-world projects online

Engaging students in real-world projects online

Engaging students in real-world projects online

20

JULY, 2021

Project-based learning
Digital Learning
Teaching
Team Collaboration

Through collaborative assignments such as group projects, students can apply their learning in a practical, real-world scenario and develop their teamwork skills. As part of ‘Information Systems in Practice’, a capstone unit in the Master of Information Systems, students work for an industry client on a consultancy style project that involves solving information systems problems. Associate Professor Bardo Fraunholz, unit chair, supported by Vivek Venkiteswaran, implemented Microsoft Teams and Planner to support collaborative learning.

Key considerations to engage students in online project work

Prof. Fraunholz brought to the fore the need for instructors to have oversight of the group work to facilitate positive and constructive interactions between students and monitor team members’ contributions to the project. By having oversight, instructors can better support students who may lag in their project work through customised guidance and support.

There should also be transparency so that various stakeholders, including industry clients that students are working with, can keep track of project progress. Transparency promotes ‘accountability for learning’, as emphasised by Vivek. Students develop essential project management and collaborative skills and are encouraged to take ownership of their learning.

Another consideration is the assessment and evaluation of learning outcomes. Prof. Fraunholz contends that, beyond assessing the final artefact produced from the collaborative project, it is also important for students to be individually assessed based on their contributions to the work. Individual assessment decreases the risk of ‘social loafing’ and ‘free riding’.

Find out more

In the episode of our tales of teaching podcast entitled Designing and Supporting Online student project work, Dr Isma Seetal from the Digital Learning Innovations team chats with Prof. Franholz about the capstone project.

Prof. Fraunholz discusses supporting students in their collaborative work and the challenges they encounter. He also shares how Microsoft tools such as Teams and Planner support students in their projects.

Watch the video tour of the Microsoft Teams and Planner area used in the unit to support students in organising their group work and tracking the progress of tasks.

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How do we help our students thrive?

How do we help our students thrive?

How do we help our students thrive? 

06

JULY, 2021

Teaching & Learning
Student support

In times of crisis like those we are living through, finding resilience has become more important than ever. 

In popular media, resilience is often reduced to a buzzword that means little more than suck-it-up and get-on-with-it. But understood properly resilience is a complex and nuanced psychological term that offers us ways of growing our ability to cope with stress and generate a deeper sense of our own capabilities. 

We know that students find study stressful and that COVID19 has made it even more so. We know that many students confront mental health issues – and at a higher level than their same aged peers. So, building in resources on mental health and resilience is an important part of supporting successful study and educating resilient future graduates. 

The FutureLearn course Professional Resilience: Building Skills to Thrive at Work is a two week open course designed, by Deakin’s Assoc. Prof. Marcus O’Donnell, to explore ways of building personal and professional resilience. It has recently been updated to include how we build resilience while our routines are disrupted because of COVID-19.

Anyone can enrol in the two week course for free and will have access to the material for four weeks. Deakin staff get upgraded access (ongoing access and certification once eligible) for free by using single-sign on to access FutureLearn Campus. Staff who want to use it as a resource within their courses can activate free access for their students by contacting the Global Studio team globalstudio@deakin.edu.au 

Professional Resilience: Building Skills to Thrive at Work is built around a model of resilience that outlines how: 

  • Resilience is a process we work towards, not a defined permanent state. 
  • We need to work with others and nurture our networks to become more resilient. 
  • Resilience is about being able to ‘bounce back’ after difficult times. 
  • Resilience is also about generating creative solutions to everyday problems during times of stability. 

Most importantly resilience is not something that some people are born with and others miss out on, resilience can be learned and it can be nurtured. It requires a systematic or ecological approach that allows us to work with others and build our strengths in the context of our personal and professional lives. 

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Identifying and cultivating the skills for success in Business and Law

Identifying and cultivating the skills for success in Business and Law

Identifying and cultivating the skills for success in Business and Law

24

MAY, 2021

Business and Law
Student support

When students embark on their higher education journey, they start at various points in their learning. Some possess relevant skills that would help them thrive in their courses while others don’t due to socioeconomic disadvantage and other factors. The development of the Business and Law Skills Toolkit stems from an endeavour to level the playing field and support all students enrolled in Business and Law courses to thrive in their studies and beyond.

As part of this project, Wendy Webber, Director of Student Experience in the Faculty of Business and Law, and Vivek Venkiteswaran, Digital Coordinator from the Business and Law pod, worked with various unit chairs, course directors and the SEBE pod to identify the skills that Business and Law students need to succeed at various levels including the introductory, intermediate and the professional levels. The skills and tools identified range from disciplinary skills such as business reporting to non-disciplinary skills such as Microsoft Office skills, including the use of Excel and Microsoft Teams. 

The team has worked on curating resources that students can use to supplement or bolster their learning of these tools and develop their business and law skills. A lot of resources were already available, however, there were no Deakin resources on Microsoft Excel so the team is currently creating a resource hosted on CloudDeakin to support students in learning how to use this tool.  It is organised by discipline/units and by level, so students have different access points. They will also have permanent access to this resource so they can work at their pace, ahead of time or go back for a refresher when the need arises.

 

 

To learn more about the development of the Business and Law skills toolkit, listen to our interview with Wendy Webber, on our Tales of Teaching podcast.

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