Project-Based Learning with Microsoft Office 365 tools

Project-Based Learning with Microsoft Office 365 tools

Project-Based Learning with Microsoft Office 365 tools

30

MARCH, 2021

Teaching Online
Good Practice
Resources

Thinking back at some of our most powerful learning experiences, it is likely that at least one of these experiences involved a project. Projects support student engagement and provide opportunities for deeper learning. As teaching is being increasingly carried out online and in a hybrid mode, it is more important than ever that we scaffold and support project-based learning appropriately to facilitate powerful collaborative learning experiences for our students as they work on their projects online.

Isma Seetal from the DLI team and Vivek Venkiteswaran from the Business and Law pod recently organised a workshop to discuss how project-based learning and Microsoft Office 365 tools can be used to enhance students’ project work experience. In this article, we share some key takeaways from our workshop and launch some resources that we have created and curated to support you in using Microsoft Office 365 tools in teaching and learning.

Project-based learning

Project-based learning is an instructional approach that can help academic staff provide quality collaborative learning opportunities to students as they engage in group projects. It helps learners construct knowledge, develop real-world products and cultivate a range of skills such as collaboration, communication and critical thinking skills, which are in high demand in the workplace. Integrating project-based learning in a physical or virtual setting requires careful and intentional planning so students can engage in important project activities such as brainstorming, project planning, discussions and reflections seamlessly using Deakin-endorsed tools.

Tools for project-based learning

Microsoft Office 365 tools can be used to support project-based learning in an integrated and seamless way, so that students can focus on their project, rather than mastering a set of disconnected tools. Microsoft whiteboard can be used for brainstorming and reflection whereas Microsoft Planner (named as ‘Tasks by planner and to do’ in Teams) and Microsoft lists can help students organise, assign, and set deadlines for their tasks. These apps, available as part of Deakin’s enterprise-wide Microsoft Office 365 license can be added to Microsoft Teams sites to provide a robust collaborative environment for students to engage in project-based learning activities within one space.

Resources for Deakin staff

You can learn more about how Microsoft Office 365 tools can be used for projects and other learning activities through our resources, which are currently hosted on our Microsoft Whiteboard SharePoint page and Microsoft Planner page.

You can join the demystifying digital community of practice to learn about and share digital tips with colleagues.

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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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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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Using online simulations to support the development of student leadership skills

Using online simulations to support the development of student leadership skills

Using online simulations to support the development of student leadership skills

10

FEBRUARY, 2021

Teaching Online
Good Practice

In their final unit, students in the Graduate Certificate of Humanitarian Leadership engage in an intensive five-day simulation of a real-world humanitarian situation which gives them the opportunity to demonstrate leadership behaviours and apply appropriate humanitarian strategies to existing and emerging humanitarian contexts. Students take on roles within the senior leadership team of an NGO while academic staff impersonate characters that NGO members would typically interact with in the course of their work.

Reimagining an intensive unit

In 2020, Associate Professor Phil Connors, a founder of the course, worked with the DLF faculty pod for Arts & Education to reimagine the simulation in an online environment. During the five days of the online simulation, students commenced with a structured small group session, the Action Learning Sets, to explore challenges and identify solutions to a given problem. This would be followed by four to five hours of the actual simulation incorporating a rapid team review (RTR) session facilitated by coaches. The simulation activity was wrapped up on day five with a series of debrief sessions and feedback from peers.

During the simulation period, students and their coaches used Microsoft Teams for meetings, debriefs and peer feedback sessions. Academic staff members shared insights and collaborated throughout the simulation in a private, staff-only, channel within the Microsoft Teams environment. They also recorded their observations of student leadership behaviours directly from within the Microsoft Teams space using a third-party app. Breakout rooms in Zoom were used to carry out an individual assessment activity where students gave a presentation to a high value donor (HVD) on their organisation’s crisis response strategy.

The benefits for students

Simulations bring about multiple benefits to the learners, including the opportunity to apply theory to real-life situations, which improves learning, engagement and enjoyment of the course.  While the main purpose of the simulation was to develop students’ leadership skills, they also had the chance to cultivate a range of other skills such as decision-making, problem-solving and effective communication.

Learn more about delivering online simulations

In this video, Assoc. Prof. Connors talks to Isma Seetal about the unit and the online simulation.  He also gives us a tour of the Microsoft Teams site that was created for the simulation.

 

 

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CloudDeakin user access during T3 examination period

CloudDeakin user access during T3 examination period

CloudDeakin user access during T3 examination period  

05

FEBRUARY, 2021

Teaching Online
Good Practice

To allow us to protect the integrity of exams, we will be restricting user access to CloudDeakin for the two-week exam period. As per T1 and T2 2020, the below decisions were made and endorsed by the DVCE, PVC T&L and ADTLs in consultation with Faculty T&L support teams. These changes, and the underlying rationale, are outlined below.

Why are we doing this?

A lot of people have various forms of access to CloudDeakin. To help maintain the security of exam replacement tasks, access will be restricted during the exam period. Only Unit Chairs, Associate Deans Teaching and Learning, Associate Heads of School and key CloudDeakin support staff in faculties and eSolutions will have access to CloudDeakin during this period. Students will maintain access to their unit sites but will not be able to view their exam replacement tasks until the scheduled exam timeslot.

Which roles will be affected?

The changes will be implemented slightly differently in each faculty to accommodate faculty processes. The table below shows which roles will be removed from unit sites in each faculty at the start of the exam period and reinstated at the end of the two-week period.

Roles to be removed from unit sites on Monday 8 February
Business and Law Tutor, Marker, Marking Tutor, Auditor (excluding ADTLs), Librarian, Learning Support
SEBE Tutor, Marker, Marking Tutor, Auditor (excluding ADTLs), Librarian, Learning Support
Health Auditor, Librarian, Learning Support, Visitor (excluding API team), Participant
Arts and Education No changes

When will access be removed?

The affected roles will be removed on Monday 8 February by 9am. The roles will be reinstated on Monday 22 February by 9am. Unit chairs and Faculty CloudDeakin support teams will be able to re-enrol staff (e.g. Markers, Tutors, Marking Tutors) in the unit site once the assessment has completed if this access is required before Monday 22 February.

Who to contact for further details?

ArtsEd Digital Learning: artsed-digital-learning@deakin.edu.au

BL Learning Innovations Support: bl-learninginnovations@deakin.edu.au

Health: hedu@deakin.edu.au

SEBE: sebe-clouddeakinsupport@deakin.edu.au

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Redesigning FutureLearn units to promote active learning

Redesigning FutureLearn units to promote active learning

Redesigning FutureLearn units to promote active learning

22

JANUARY, 2021

Teaching Online
Good Practice

Two FutureLearn delivered units were recently redesigned to place an even greater emphasis on active learning. Leadership Practice with Impact (MPL700) and Leadership Challenges (MPL701) have been delivered fully online using the FutureLearn platform as part of the Master of Leadership, one of Deakin’s suite of Professional Practice Degrees.

Dr Melissa Parris (Senior Lecturer, Deakin Business School) and Jenny Pesina (Senior Educational Developer, Global Studio) led a team of staff from across the Deakin Business School and Global Studio to restructure the units and review the various student learning activities included in the ‘Your tasks’ section. The team completed the redesign while working remotely, using the online visual collaboration platform Miro to initiate a rigorous design process and collaborating using Microsoft Teams.

The ‘Your task’ section

The ‘Your tasks’ section included in Deakin’s FutureLearn courses is where a student will find activities designed to deepen their understanding of the unit. The ‘Your task’ section of MPL700 and MPL701 has now been re-designed to further promote active learning through reflection and conversation. Activities have been mapped across two main categories: ‘Reflective practice’ and ‘Share your ideas’.

The purpose of ‘Reflective practice’ activities is to invite self-reflection on what has been learnt so far through asking a question or describing a scenario. These tasks also assist with student preparation for the assessment, where students commonly draw on their own experiences to demonstrate their learning.

‘We know that reflective practice is integral to deep learning, encouraging students to think critically about both their own experiences and the theory they are learning’, said Dr Melissa Parris. ‘It is one of the skills we want to encourage for lifelong learning beyond these units. One well-known author on leadership, Professor Warren Bennis, also emphasised the importance of reflection for leadership practice:

Experiences aren’t truly yours until you think about them, analyse them, examine them, question them, reflect on them, and finally understand them. The point … is to use your experiences rather than be used by them … (Bennis 2009, p.92)

‘Share your ideas’ invites students to join in a discussion with peers by commenting and responding to the existing discussion threads. This provides an extra dimension to self-reflection, allowing the students to engage in a collaborative discussion on challenging concepts and problem solving.

‘In the largely self-paced learning environment on FutureLearn, the ‘Share your ideas’ activities are key to active and collaborative learning’, said Dr Parris. ‘These activities can cover current and/or provocative issues and allow students to collaboratively consider different options and the implications for different contexts.’

From the educators’ perspective, this new structure provides a more focused approach to online moderation and student support mechanisms. The range of ‘Share your ideas’ activities means educators have the opportunity to check student understanding of the content and provide further clarification where needed, encourage critical discussion, and propose extension questions for those seeking more knowledge.

 

Bennis, W. (2009). On becoming a leader: The leadership classic–updated and expanded. Basic Books.

Deakin staff can learn more by visiting the Global Studio SharePoint site.

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