TRANSCRIPT: DeakinDesign Principle: Authentic
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Dr Kaja Antlej: Yes, hi my name is Dr Kaja Antlej and I’m a senior lecturer in industrial design at School of Engineering here at Deakin University. Yes, I’m I’m currently the unit chair of SEJ104. So this is the first year unit within the School of Engineering and I’m also a unit chair of trimester three of a master’s unit, and that is SEM721 Engineering Design. So at the School of Engineering we follow the so called PODBL which means project oriented design based learning. And this principle started in 2016 mainly and now we’ve gone through a couple of years and it’s all about how our students can learn by working in teams on real life projects quite a lot of times with the collaboration with local or even international industry partners.
So this trimester, for example, we just started with a new unit it’s called SEJ104 so it’s a first year unit and it’s around engineering and society, so we got a really nice and very engaging teaching team so Rob McHenry, Dr Michael Norton, Dr Tiffany Gunning and Dr Karla Wells-Duerr and we’re all working together to provide not only authentic assessment, but more importantly authentic learning to our first year students. What is interesting is that we are actually having quite large cohort of around 200 plus students and they’re coming from different backgrounds so one part of the cohort it’s actually straight from the high school and another one are returning students so these are mature students with lots of experiences from their work. But important is that we try to provide with real world problems to look into how engineers work in the society, how what are their responsibility, not only towards the society towards different people with different culture but also towards environment because we think that holistic perspective is the most important. So maybe if I give you a few examples of our let’s say design challenge that our students are currently working in trimester one. So they are working individually and in teams and the design challenge is around creating a future Olympic host city. So we divided the whole unit, the whole trimester into two main parts, the first part it’s around research and second part it’s around development, so we call it R&D or research and development that’s a term that it’s quite known in engineering and design industry. So as part of research, the first four four weeks our students are individually, looking at abandoned Olympic venues so, for example, abandoned stadiums, abandoned arenas or any natural sites that in the past featured those Games. So this is how we look into what we can learn from past mistakes, what our students can learn from past mistakes and critically evaluate those abandoned venues, and that is part of the research. The second, the second part of this trimester is more around teamwork so students are looking in how they can use these research results that they’ve collected from case studies into the design of the future Olympic Games or future Olympic venues, so we are focusing not only on the we are focusing not only on the development of those venues for the time of the Games, but also looking into the future, how things can be redesigned for the future purpose in terms of, we’re also looking from the energy perspective, climate change, pollution, we’re also looking into Indigenous perspective so. For example, we had an Indigenous person coming to our class to talk to our students and we are also creating one day, some sort of farm industry conference to give our students, a little bit of an idea how an industry conference looks like so at that day we’ve invited a couple of industry speakers, as well as speakers who will cover how to find a career in engineering, so this is a part of so called intensive week so it’s basically for those students who are not on campus who are because half of our students are actually Cloud students and we want to provide them some real authentic experience within on campus in collaboration with our industry partners, and also to meet and chat with their peers. So going forwards with this authentic assessment around team project our students will not be creating a traditional A4 format report. But we want to give the number of opportunity to provide a PowerPoint slide deck so that’s something that industry is currently doing because it’s a fast fast paced industry and quite a lot of industry representatives needs to present in PowerPoint slide so there’s something that we want to teach our students as a as a team work. But then the last assignment will be to individual students to take those 30 slides team slides and create one slide, one pager ,and present their Olympic beat to a specific stakeholder. So it means that we will students will be learning about communication about communicating different stakeholders, if you think of government representatives, Indigenous communities, local residents, small businesses corporations or maybe those who are stakeholders who are interested in environmental issues, culture significance and things like that. So I think it’s really, really important for our students to have an opportunity to learn from real life cases and we can find quite a lot of resources, for example on the Olympic web official Olympic website and their libraries, so this is somewhere where in reality, if you would be bidding for an Olympic games, you would go and look at those resources.
Yes, very exciting and it’s very interesting to look into those Olympic venues from the past, but also from the more broader perspective we’ve got quite a lot of students with backgrounds who are not from Australia so, for example, and if there are students who are let’s say coming from Egypt they decided okay we’re going to go and take Cairo as an example because we’ve got some great some sort of insights into the geographical location and maybe we can even talk to locals through some of our friends or family members, so we want to create some sort of an opportunity for all our students to maybe identify with different locations around the globe, because at the end of the day, we are global citizens.
So probably the biggest challenge is, we only got 11 teaching weeks and 11 weeks is quite a fast paced environment for those students who, especially those who are coming from high school because this unit, for example, is a first year unit and complex engineering challenges they need a little bit of time to for students to really grasp what the problem is. And on the other side, we also want to teach them of bit about project management and teamwork, and these are some other challenges that probably not everyone actually expected that will be a big part of our unit because some of the students didn’t have experiences from teamwork before or maybe it’s a completely new environment. We don’t have exams in the unit, but it’s really open and that so it’s more about asking questions and understanding the process, critically evaluate then really providing solutions so is the first year unit and we’re really focusing on this aspect about critical thinking and analysing and understanding what are the responsibilities of engineers before they will really dive deep into engineering design in the further years.
I think it’s important to integrate real life challenges, something that students also can see in the media, something that they can rely upon or something that they see that has a value. So on those challenges, or those problems that are addressed in mass media, I think this is the way how they understand how important benefit it’s so even, for example, last year, with my engineering students at SEM721 master students, I gave them the challenge that it’s related to the space industry, and particularly because the Australian Government it’s currently promoting the new 20,000 jobs, that they’re giving the money to grow this emerging industry by the creation of the space in the Space Agency and the first students said okay, we are doing something that is very emerging, something that is new to us, we don’t know anything about microgravity but then they realise that there is so much in the media about this emerging industry and they started to believe that this is something that has the future.
I think it’s important to look into from a holistic perspective and we’ve got different graduate learning outcomes at Deakin and I think it’s important to look into putting together assessments that could cover as many of those those graduate learning outcomes from teamwork to communication towards digital literacy critical thinking and so on, because life and industry, it’s complex and we need to look from the challenges that we’re facing from a really holistic perspective, and I think it’s also important to collaborate across university, across also in collaboration with industry, so the students really have this authentic experience with real life industries and real life, the representatives of the real life industry.