Creating a student-centred online learning environment for report writing in the sciences and engineering
This project, Creating a student centred online learning environment for report writing in the sciences and engineering, was funded by the ALTC to develop, implement and disseminate an online learning environment, the WRiSE site, to improve student writing in discipline areas where traditionally students are known to struggle with their writing. In addition, although these resources were created to meet the report writing needs of all students, they also include learning materials to address the needs of a diverse student body, in particular, in the area of language use.
The project team brought together a range of experience and knowledge to contribute to the development of the online learning environment. Subject area specialists from the nine discipline areas created content to support student understanding of concepts in their discipline and language and learning specialists created content to help with understanding the structure and language of reports in these disciplines. Students contributed their voices to the website to comment in particular on the process of report writing. Technical and e-learning specialists transformed this content into interactive online learning materials brought together in a seamless online environment. This collaborative process followed a design, development, feedback cycle to ensure that the website was meeting the needs of students and staff.
Digital learning communities: investigating the application of social software to support networked learning
The Digital Learning Communities (DLC) Project considered the potential of social software to support peer engagement and group learning in higher education. The project established a series of pilots that examined ways in which social software could provide students with opportunities to engage with their peers to supplement the more formal aspects of their education. It spoke with teaching and support staff about the use of social software to support learning, and to students about how they saw social software being used in their university lives. It established a wiki-based cookbook that provides ideas and suggestions for the use of social software, and conducted surveys of staff and students’ use of new social technologies.
Educating the Net Generation - A Handbook of Findings for Practice and Policy
This project sought to identify the implications of educating the 'Net Generation' for learning and teaching in Australian universities. The aim of the Investigation was to explore and document how university students and their teachers are using both established and emerging technologies to support their day-to-day activities and as learning and teaching tools. It consisted of an extensive literature review, a quantitative survey of students’ and staff experiences with and preferences for a range of technologies, and a qualitative investigation involving a series of interviews and focus group sessions in which more detailed information about students’ and staff views of technology was collected. The aim of the Implementation phase was to explore ways in which the educational
potential of emerging technologies could be harnessed, and to provide a systematic, evidence-based approach to broadening students’ learning experiences through the use of technology-based tools. Five technologies were trialled in eight case study settings, as follows:
- A reflective journal writing activity using a blogging tool with education students at Charles Sturt University;
- A publishing activity using a blogging tool with journalism students at the University of Wollongong;
- A collaborative writing activity using a wiki with psychology students at the University of Melbourne;
- A photo sharing activity using Flickr with education students at the University of Wollongong;
- A photo sharing activity using the Sakai resources tool with biology students at Charles Sturt University;
- A photo sharing activity using Flickr with chemistry students at the University of Melbourne;
- A student-generated podcast activity with medical students at the University of Melbourne; and
- An online resource sharing activity using social bookmarking with arts students at the University of Melbourne.
The case studies were evaluated using a combination of teaching staff interviews, analysis of subject documents, online activity logs, student questionnaires and student focus group sessions.
The resources in this toolkit include research instruments used to investigate student and staff experiences of technology, and tools used for planning and implementing new technology-based activities in eight learning settings across three universities. They can be used by educators to assist in incorporating emerging technologies in educational activities to enhance student learning in discipline-specific contexts. The resources can also be used to support quantitative and qualitative research into the technology experiences and preferences of university students and staff, and the evaluation of technology-based learning activities. The toolkit is not intended to be read as a single document. Rather, it is expected that readers will choose to access and use only those resources that are relevant to them. Each of the resources included in this toolkit is, therefore, a self-contained document.
Educating the Net Generation - A Handbook of Findings for Practice and Policy
Project EnROLE Blue Report: encouraging role based online learning environments
Project EnROLE encourages uptake of online role based learning environments, with particular focus on what is commonly referred to by us as role play. Role play is widely acknowledged to be a powerful teaching technique in face to face, blended and online teaching contexts and has been previously singled out as an example of good practice. The project goal was to encourage uptake of online role based learning environments using the strategy of building a community of practice at university, state and national levels which would better reward and recognise teachers already using role play and scaffold teachers wanting to get started with role play. Starting with the core team based at 5 NSW universities, Project EnROLE’s community building activities have resulted in 26 outcomes involving hundreds of teachers Australia-wide, which affirms EnROLE’s Dissemination Model of cascading university clusters and state networks. The BLUE Report describes these outcomes and achievements in 4 sections representing 4 phases of the project: Building, Linking, Understanding and Extending. The key finding is that a good practice database (repository) cannot be built without simultaneously building a community of practice and that the role of connector/broker is essential for community development. The BLUE report serves as a guide for educators interested in the field of online role play to assist them in identifying and accessing available resources. It also provides guides and frameworks of a more generic nature about Peer Review, Partnerships, Fellowships, Leadership and Uptake.
The impact of web-based lecture technologies on current and future practices in learning and teaching
This project was conducted to explore these influences and gain a better understanding of how WBLT are impacting learning and teaching. In particular:
- how the technology is integrated into the curriculum, its role and relationship with other elements within the curriculum
- how the technology can effectively support learning and teaching in different contexts, taking into account disciplinary differences, student diversity, specific teaching aims and learning outcomes.
- the educational implications of its use for:
- the design and delivery of curricula
- academics and their teaching
- students, their learning and the establishment of effective learning environments
- professional development of academic staff
- academic policies and practices
The research program adopted a mixed methods approach utilising both qualitative and quantitative methods. It comprised two stages. The first stage was designed to capture the diversity of experiences in the use of WBLT using staff and students surveys. It aimed to identify the range of learning and teaching issues and usage patterns of staff and students.
The second stage involved a more detailed exploration of the educational issues arising from the surveys through a series of vignettes and case studies. This stage was both investigative and developmental in nature, exploring the issues in depth by focussing on specific curriculum contexts.
New technologies, new pedagogies: using mobile technologies to develop new ways of teaching and learning
The New Technologies: New Pedagogies project endeavoured to take an innovative approach not only in the creation of new, authentic pedagogies for mobile devices but also in the action learning approach adopted for the professional development of participants. The project involved 19 people including teachers, IT and PD personnel. The project investigated the educational potential of two hand-held, ubiquitous mobile devices: iPods and smartphones (combined mobile phones and PDAs). Specifically the project aimed to complete the following:
- Investigate the potential uses or ‘affordances’ of two personal mobile devices.
- Engage teachers from a Faculty of Education using an action learning professional development framework to explore and invent pedagogies appropriate to the use of a mobile device in completing a complex task within an authentic learning environment.
- Implement the use of mobile technologies and authentic tasks in learning activities over a period of 4-6 weeks in a range of different subject areas.
- Describe, categorise and disseminate resultant pedagogies and professional development activities through a dedicated website and a published handbook.
- Implement the professional development activities for mobile learning across other faculties at the University of Wollongong and disseminate in web-based template form to other universities across Australia and overseas.