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TRANSCRIPT: Tales4Teaching ep. 78 – Reflections of 2023

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Joan: Welcome to Tales for Teaching, a podcast where we explore stories with purpose in higher education. We’ll share expert insights, engaging interviews and thought provoking discussions that will inspire your teaching. On behalf of Deakin University. I would like to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the unceded lands and waterways on which you are located. I acknowledge the Wadawurrung People of the Kulin Nation as the Traditional Owners on which this podcast was recorded and I pay my respects to elders past, present and future. My name is Joan Sutherland and this is Tales for Teaching, brought to you by Deakin Learning Futures. So welcome to another episode of Tales for Teaching, where we’re exploring learning spaces and the way we are transforming the learning experience in this environment.

Hello and welcome to the final episode of Tales for Teaching for 2023. My name is Joan Sutherland and today I really wanted to take a look back at the transformative year of 2023 in higher education and here at Deakin University by talking you through the podcasts of this year. But before I do so, I just wanted to take you back to January of this year when everyone came back from the break and there was only one thing on everyone’s lips – Chat-GPT. A breakthrough in AI technology, and it had everyone talking about the endless possibilities. It felt like standing at the edge of a new frontier. What couldn’t it do? What are the endless possibilities? There were mixed feelings about the usefulness of it. How will it impact higher education? How does it impact teaching? How does it impact learning? How does it impact us as a society as a whole? So whilst there was so much excitement around Chat-GPT, there were also questions around data, around privacy and security. We discussed this on our very first initial podcast as a catalyst for deeper thinking about cybersecurity and online safety. And in our first episode, we had Dushyant, our Operations Manager for cyber security here at Deakin, and he really set the tone. It wasn’t just about adopting new technology, it was about building capability, understanding this technology and integrating it effectively. In order to do that, you need to understand the security side of things. So whilst genAI was on everyone’s lips still we were aware that there were different technology being leveraged to enhance educational practices and in what ways can technology achieve the best outcomes for our students? So as the year progressed, so did our conversations. First, we introduced you to Dr. Anne Turner and she shared her approach on sustainable leadership using Microsoft Teams. She emphasised how her use of Microsoft Teams became more than a tool. It was a gateway to collaboration. It built helped her build a community of educators and learners. But the story wasn’t just about technology. It was about people. It was about connection and leadership and how they leveraged technology to achieve that. But she did emphasise that she had to be clear on what she wanted to achieve in order to find teams to best fit that. Whilst recording that episode, the relatively new initial buzz around AI seemed to have settled somewhat. But we took with this and we ran with it and we looked deeper and we had the expertise of firstly, Dr. Lucinda McKnight sharing her research on digital writing. She shared how digital writing with AI like Chat-GPT is intriguing, but it is the educational implications that truly matter. How does it how does it shape the way we teach and how does it shape the way we learn? Lucinda shared her research and kindly brought to light the critical and cultural aspects of digital writing, and it pushed us to think about beyond AI itself. No longer can we put our heads in the sand. We continued this theme in subsequent episodes and we had a different voice from a student perspective Supriya Roy. They shared their experience of genAI from a student’s perspective and in particular Chat-GPT. They highlighted the importance of understanding AI’s role in education, what it can do well, where it doesn’t need to improve, and how it can complement a student’s work. This was echoed by the Manager of Industry Projects here at Deakin, Jesse McMeikan, who highlighted the importance of understanding AI to complement, not replace, human ingenuity and help our students to become graduate ready. So whilst genAI undertone continued, the latter part of the year brought a focus of a different kind. It focussed on integrating Indigenous Knowledges, reshaping our learning spaces and preparing our students not for jobs, but for a future where technology and humanity intertwine. We talked to Glenn Auld and Jo O’Mara from the School of Education, and they shared their compelling experience of embedding the Acknowledgement of Country into the curriculum for pre-service teachers. They highlighted and emphasised the need for integration of Indigenous Knowledges, critical engagement and positioning and language. They shared their transformative experience for the teaching and learning and pre-service teachers. Their practice was tied into themes of social justice and Indigenous perspectives to build capability and confidence in pre-service teachers. From there, we shifted gears into immersive learning technology with Toija Cinque from the School of Communication and Creative Arts and an expert in digital media, shared their teaching methods for undergrad students across various disciplines. They used augmented reality 360 degree films, and that enhanced student’s critical and creative thinking about the role of technology in society, environmental implications and media ecology. Very timely. And she highlighted her focus was on the threshold concepts highlighting the driver for any technology needs to be educational practice and pedagogy. Driving this theme around a focus on educational practice, we had Jamie Wheelahan from Nursing Education share their practice of engaging students through Microsoft Teams, and they spoke candidly about not getting it right the first time, but rather using it as an iterative approach to integrate Microsoft Teams, listening to their students, what worked, what didn’t, and iterating accordingly. This showed the fact that you do need to try new things. Sometimes they’ll work. Then we had Amanda Edgar share their work around learning spaces and the importance of well-designed spaces that are adaptable to different context. They highlighted the role of technology is integrated into this context, so spaces are flexible enough to promote active and collaborative learning. It highlighted the commitment to focus on the learning environment as a whole, from a digital perspective and a physical perspective. We also heard from Angela An and Tricia Owen, both of whom leveraged different technologies such as Padlet, was focusing on the pedagogical practices and the reasons for integrating different technology. So I really wanted to highlight whilst Chat-GPT has been a big conversation this year. There’s been other technology and we will continue to integrate different technology, but it is so important that we focus on the pedagogical practices as to why we’re integrating technology. How are we doing that? How are we bringing students along with the journey? We’ve explored cyber security. Indigenous Knowledges, we’ve focussed on educational practices, but also the various technology such as generative AI, Microsoft 365, Augmented reality, immersive reality Padlet, 360 degrees film. But I have to focus on overwhelmingly, the focus has not been on technology, but on pedagogical practice and integrating technology with intention to enrich the teaching and learning experience. I hope you’ve gotten some insights into what we do here at Deakin and how our amazing educators work in this space. I really look forward to seeing what the hype is next year after the break and share more stories with you in 2024. So we know that. So with that, we’re signing off Tales4Teaching for 2023 and myself and our team here at Deakin wish you a safe and happy festive season.

13 December 2023

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