TRANSCRIPT: DeakinDesign Principle: Integrated
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Dr Nicole Siller: My name is Nicole Siller and I am a senior lecturer at the law school at Deakin University and my area of expertise is criminal law I was a lawyer practicing lawyer and prosecutor, before I became part of academic staff, and I also like to focus and work a lot in the work integrated learning space, specifically, as it concerns law student’s ability to gain practical skills that will hopefully serve them in life beyond law school and also working with our clinical solicitors in the Deakin Law Clinic.
I think it’s a really an important principle to consider when you are trying to obviously not only educate students about a particular area in terms of subject matter content but also how that that area and how practicing that area looks in the real world, so I find including an integrated approach is really important, both subject matter ,wise discipline wise, but also, given the fact that at Deakin we have essentially, two cohorts of students campus and online students it’s really important to think about integrating or trying to integrate their different learning requirements in a way that serves both cohorts well.
Yeah so I teach in several units, but the unit that I think would probably be best suited to have this discussion is the first year unit that I teach which is criminal law that’s MLL114. And that unit is offered two times a year and covers obviously online students, as well as the various on campus offerings that we have at Waterfront and at Burwood. And I look at integrated learning principles twofold one in the way in which I teach the students, the subject matter of criminal law, so we really focus on an integrated perspective in the sense of how we integrate practical learning activities into just digesting the sort of better content, but I also have to think about how do I make sure that I can integrate the campus and Cloud students seamlessly or as seamlessly as possible, and so the way in which that I’ve organised the unit is that the cohorts get their own seminar sessions, so there are seminars that are devoted just for the Cloud students, as well as for the on campus events and I tailor the learning activities to those to that medium, but for the larger group session which I call a class session, that session I actually live stream, so that the Cloud students can tune in live and can also hear and see what the campus students are doing. And, in an effort to make sure that those on those online feel as involved and as welcome to join in the discussion, I always make sure that I when I log into the technology in the room, I also bring my laptop and my laptop I log into the Zoom meeting and I open up the chat feature. So that the classes can participate in real time, just as the on campus students are, and I really try to encourage their participation and make sure that when I’m asking for participation I’m not just you know, putting the students in the class to contribute, but I’m also saying class it and tell me what you think about this, or would you agree with what this student just said as a concerns you know, whatever legal conclusion that they made or recitation of the factual scenario in context with the law so that both cohorts can learn from each other and also can understand that each other are present and there are needs that we need to respond to, so that both cohorts are able to understand the material learn the material and learn from from this delivery method.
I think it’s been useful for the students because so often, I hear, especially from Cloud students and I think, obviously, given the recent global pandemic almost every student was made to be a Cloud student for the last two years, but I think what I hear a lot from cloud students is that they often feel isolated because they don’t get to see or interact with their peers, at least in a face to face setting they rarely or never get to come on campus to a learning environment that really allows and fosters you know the collaborative efforts and so I think this learning method has, for a lot of students made them feel like they’re part of the institution that they can collaborate with their peers, or they can learn from their peers, they can engage with their peers, and it also gives them an opening to say Oh, I heard what you said in class, ‘Should we form like a study group together or you know, can we take this conversation offline?’, so I think it’s also really helped to foster students who are entirely alone behind their screen to build that that network of peers to hopefully learn from and thrive with throughout the course of their studies, so I think that that’s been really, an unintended consequence of this practice, but I also think it’s interesting to see to allow the two different cohorts to engage with one another, because a lot of times they are quite segregated, not intentionally it just happens by way in which are version and in which they’re choosing to study so being able to also recognise that there are other cohorts that have interesting perspectives as well and that we can all learn from from I think has been a very welcome side effect of this of this method.
It’s really hard to. want to engage when you’re standing in a lecture theatre wanting to engage with a group that’s right in front of you, and you know not also wanting to neglect those that are that are in the Cloud and that are trying to chime in by you know typing whatever comments or questions they have so for me, I think a big challenges, making sure that I am effectively balancing the needs of both groups and doing that in a timely way because a lot of times you know students have questions or comments that are relevant to something that’s been spoken about at that moment, and if I take too long before I look at the chat box, I might completely miss that comment or that contribution and it might not be then as effective because we’ve kind of past that point, so I think it’s a really important balance that you have to consider and that how often am I looking at a screen? And how long often am I, looking at the at the classroom of students and part of me, is that manageable so that neither group feels neglected in a way. And I think that really is not something that comes naturally or easily and it’s I can’t necessarily say that it’s a skill that I have but it’s something that I’m constantly working on in trying to balance the needs of both cohorts in a way that makes both of them feel seen and heard and supported.
I do think that when possible it’s it is great if you can obviously to some, depending on the size of the class the needs of the class, maybe even the content matter to have separate offerings for Cloud and campus students. But I think that when you have a manageable unit size and when you have activities that can be translated on to the Cloud that it’s actually a really fun experience for both cohorts to have, so I would be curious to hear if any of my peers, are doing this. I do know at least this was pre pandemic that for some of my colleagues that were teaching other first year units that they would have one person engaged in the delivery of the class and another academic in front of the chat box the entire time so that they could make sure that all questions or comments for being responded to as soon as possible.
I think it gets really interesting project that’s going on here with these principles and I’m just hoping that yeah the method that I’m using is is benefiting both Cloud and campus students.