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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ACEN Virtual Summit 2020 wrap-up

ACEN Virtual Summit 2020 wrap-up

ACEN Virtual Summit 2020 wrap-up

20

JANUARY, 2021

WIL
Teaching Online

As for many organisations, 2020 was the year of doing things differently for the Australian Cooperative Education Network (ACEN). To ensure that its members had continuing access to professional development despite COVID-19, ACEN made the decision to hold its first fully online two-day annual conference in late 2020. The WIL community response was fantastic, with 583 registrations from Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Malaysia.

Key themes

Together participants explored issues reflecting the key theme of ‘Beyond 2020: Creating the Future with WIL’ through showcases, refereed paper presentations, interactive roundtables and social spaces and sessions. The eight sub-themes included the following:

  • Enhancing employability through WIL.
  • Delivering quality WIL.
  • Service learning and community engagement.
  • Globalising WIL.
  • Collaborative stakeholder engagement.
  • Innovative, scalable and sustainable WIL.
  • Indigenous engagement: Building capacity through WIL.
  • WIL leadership: Shaping the Future.

Deakin’s contribution

Many Deakin people attended and presented, such as Dr Karen Le Rossignol, who shared her work on ‘Perceptions of Disruption and Uncertainty in WIL Digital Storyworlds’. Assoc. Prof. Harsh Suri and Fred Kaider shared early findings and insights from a large collaborative project looking at ‘Virtual WIL: Technology Enabled WIL Placements and Projects’ and Assoc. Prof. Rola Ajjawi, Prof. David Boud and Dr Joanna Tai from the CRADLE team hosted a roundtable on ‘Assessment Design for Work Integrated Learning’.

Deakin’s support for this event included hosting via our digital infrastructure and contributions from Dr Lisa Milne (Lecturer, Teaching capability, DLF, ACEN VicTas Chapter committee member) and Kathryn Whitney (Portfolio Manager, Engagement, Arts & Ed) to secure sponsorship, deliver a digital vision for the event, handle programme planning and host sessions on the day. The organising committee also included our ACEN colleagues Judie Kay and Leoni Russell from RMIT, Rachael Baron from Latrobe University and Prof. Susan Rowland from University of Queensland.

Record attendance

Attendance at individual sessions was high, with some attracting up to a hundred participants. This highlights the affordances of virtual sessions, given that except for the traditionally large keynote and townhall sessions, our physical venues would struggle to accommodate such high numbers. Just over 50% of those who participated in the evaluation activity indicated they were first time attendees, indicating that online options seem to be more easily accessible – an important lesson to reflect on in planning for events in 2021.

Join us in 2021

ACEN worked hard over 2020, and will do so again 2021, to provide online webinars, resource and opportunities to discuss the range of local and international WIL community responses to a global pandemic that has had a strong impact on WIL practitioners. Deakin is an institutional member of ACEN, so all of these events are free for Deakin employees to attend. There is also a members discount for attendance at the next ACEN conference in October 2021. We hope to see you there!

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The Q&A bot that answers student queries in Microsoft Teams

The Q&A bot that answers student queries in Microsoft Teams

The Q&A bot that answers student queries in Microsoft Teams

14

JANUARY, 2021

Teaching Online
Digital Innovation

Deakin is currently running a pilot of a Q&A bot that answers routine student queries in Microsoft Teams. The bot integrates with Microsoft Teams class environments and uses artificial intelligence to build a body of knowledge about the unit with a focus on unit administration. Students can then ask the bot questions in a designated Q&A channel in Microsoft Teams and receive answers about assignment deadlines and locations of learning resources 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

How Dr Elicia Lanham uses Q&A bot

We spoke to Dr Elicia Lanham (Senior Lecturer in Information Technology) who is piloting the Q&A bot in her Microsoft Teams class environment as part of SIT772 – Database and Information Retrieval.

Dr Lanham finds that using Microsoft Teams in teaching and learning has facilitated communication between students and instructors. Microsoft Teams has made it easier for students to post questions for their peers and unit chairs, leading to a spike in student engagement that has extended and enhanced classroom learning.

Some of these questions are routinely administrative in nature and could potentially be answered using a Q&A bot, freeing up the academic to concentrate on questions that require higher-order thinking to dig deeper into the learning materials.

In this video, you can learn more about how Dr Lanham has used Microsoft Teams and the Q&A bot in her unit.

 

Implementing the Q&A bot with Alan Longmuir

The Emergent Technologies, AI and Big Data team from eSolutions is leading the pilot of the bot for Deakin and has been working closely with Dr Lanham on its implementation in the Microsoft Teams class environment for her unit.

The team is also leading a pilot of using the Q&A bot within CloudDeakin unit sites, positioning Deakin as the first university in Australia to experiment its use in the D2L environment.

We spoke with Alan Longmuir (Emergent Technologies Manager) who gave us a demonstration of how the bot works.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about the Q&A bot you can contact Alan Longmuir at alan.longmuir@deakin.edu.au.

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Transition Pedagogy or panic-gogy: The first year experience of emergency remote teaching

Transition Pedagogy or panic-gogy: The first year experience of emergency remote teaching

Transition pedagogy or panic-gogy: The first year experience of emergency remote teaching

10

DECEMBER, 2020

Inclusive Education
Teaching Online
Good Practice

In early December Professor Sally Kift presented a talk at Deakin’s Inclusive Education Community of Practice about the first year experience of emergency remote teaching due to COVID-19. In her talk Professor Kift ranged widely across data, research and good practice frameworks to articulate what we needed most to learn from our experiences in 2020.

Acknowledging the ‘pedagogy of kindness’ that students had acknowledged gratefully in their surveys at Deakin and elsewhere this year, she developed further the theme of fostering strong relationships between students, and between students and staff, as a foundation for learning, mental wellbeing and ongoing connection with university.

She noted the strong 2020 student success and retention figures at Deakin, including for several equity groups, and pointed to our pre-existing foundations for quality online and inclusive education, quoting at length from the Inclusive Education and Division of Student Life (DSL) student support websites, and even our Unit Minimum Standards. She also acknowledged CRADLE’s leading contribution to contemporary assessment research, in particular around online assessment.

She revisited the Transition Pedagogy she pioneered, drawing on recent research and good practice at a range of universities to demonstrate the ongoing usefulness of this framework as a way to organise the multitude of considerations that are necessary to support diverse students into university. These examples showed fresh ways of thinking, such as fostering autonomy through developing assessment literacy, using interactive planners to help students to organise their time, and taking a whole of institution approach to supporting students’ mental health.

She reflected that students commencing university in wholly online mode were coping with an even greater cognitive load:

They are learning content and skills, and they’re learning the platform, and they are learning how to learn online, and how to manage the first year transitions, and for many they are managing their mental wellbeing. Acknowledge the importance of wellbeing, talk about it!

She also noted that students entering university in 2021 ‘could be a fragile, vulnerable cohort who have just got through’, and it will be doubly important to avoid assuming entry knowledge, skills and capabilities:

If anything has become so abundantly clear out of the pandemic for all of us and for the students who are coming in in 2020-21, it is the reality of digital poverty. And that the burden has not fallen equally.

Academic and professional staff should find much in the recording of Professor Kift’s talk to enrich and refresh their thinking as they move through Trimester 3 or into Trimester 1, 2021, about how to teach and support students well online or on campus.

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Improving Data Management processes in CloudDeakin

Improving Data Management processes in CloudDeakin

Improving Data Management processes in CloudDeakin

25

NOVEMBER, 2020

Digital Innovation
Good Practice

In July this year, CloudDeakin unit sites were upgraded to the cloud-hosted Brightspace by D2L. Now, all unit and learning sites are stored in the cloud, ensuring that content is always up-to-date and providing access to the latest features and tools for delivering engaging learning experiences.

The next step in this process is to implement good Data Management practices by archiving any unused content on unit sites that is older than seven years. Archiving of information will commence in December 2020 and will be managed by DLF with support from eSolutions.

Once unit sites are six years old, they will be set to ‘inactive’, which means that students and staff will no longer be able to access content on those sites. The student experience of accessing unit sites will not be adversely affected during the archive process. Students will see a message on the front page of the sites that are getting close to expiration, encouraging them to back-up any material they need from these sites.

Teaching staff and learning content developers don’t need to take any additional actions in the archival process. News items will be posted on unit sites when they are close to the expiration date and once a unit site is inactive, staff will have 12 months to back up any content they need before the unit site is archived.

These improvements to Data Management processes will both increase efficiency in managing unit site content and improve the student experience as content is reviewed and refreshed regularly. For more information and support in the archiving process, staff can speak to their Faculty Support teams and students can contact IT Help.

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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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