Teaching with technology
A new enabling technology for learning and teaching quantitative skills
The specific primary project goal was to produce a much more sophisticated resource than extant electronic mathematics teaching tools, which only generate simple randomised variants of well-defined questions along with the corresponding simple numeric answers. In contrast, the project envisaged a system that would generate a suite of random questions and corresponding fully worked, formatted solutions to every question, clearly and unambiguously reproducing the steps that students would typically take when solving that problem. This would provide students and educators with a mechanism for concentrating on those concepts which cause them difficulties, seeing every step taken to solve such problems and thus improving their technical and creative problem-solving abilities. Importantly, the randomisation within the system must be much more than simply “changing numbers”, instead including substantial variation in the core content of each example. The primary aims of this project have been achieved, with a powerful and flexible system having been implemented.
Examples of the mathematical problems described in Adams’ project.
Evaluation of Teaching and Learning Delivery Modes in Arts
The Evaluation of Teaching and Learning Delivery Modes in Arts research project, was designed to trial and evaluate innovative uses of ICT (Information Communication Technologies) that better meet the needs of tertiary students who require additional learning support (mature age, non-English speaking background students (NESB), part-time, re-entry, repeating and established ‘at risk’ students) by refining modes of teaching and learning delivery and testing a minimalist approach to pre-lecture reading requirements (referred to as the minimalist reading model (MiRM). An informant sample of 160 students provided detailed quantitative responses and a sample of 19 interviewees provided qualitative data on student preferences as to the mode of delivery of their teaching and learning materials – as either hard-copy, electronic or physical digital (DVD) – was the main focus of research. In addition, students’ responses to the integration of supplementary learning materials into their primary teaching and learning materials were also tested. Finally, informants from a range of subject areas in the Faculties of Arts and Education were surveyed to obtain their responses to the implementation of a minimalist reading model to the pre-lecture readings in each subject area.
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 resulted in a range of innovative pedagogies and in the creation of more knowledgable and confident users of mobile technologies among teachers and students in the faculty of Education at the University of Wollongong. 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.
Teaching scientific inquiry skills: a handbook for bioscience educators in Australian universities
This project adopted a qualitative approach to examine current teaching practice in bioscience disciplines in Australian universities. Twenty-six cases were identified where educators considered they were intentionally teaching scientific inquiry. The cases were identified from nine universities, across 11 bioscience disciplines, and were developed for all three years of undergraduate teaching. Each case has been described using a framework based on the degree of inquiry inherent in student tasks, the degree of independence expected of students in performing tasks, the learning objectives educators were expecting students to achieve, and the learning environment in which tasks were carried out. Visual representations of cases have also been made so that educators can thumb through them for easy comparisons. The use of educational technologies in supporting the development of students‟scientific inquiry skills was also investigated by the project.
This project examined current teaching practice in bioscience disciplines in Australian universities, to identify innovative approaches used by educators to enhance the scientific inquiry capabilities of their students. The project had a specific focus on the role played by educational technologies in supporting the development of students’ skills.
Development, deployment and educational assessment of advanced immersive learning environments for process engineering
A collaborative team has developed two prototype environments that have broken new ground in engaging instructors, students, industrial operators and trainers with a range of process engineering concepts and practices. Built on an early prototype first developed at the University of Queensland, a partnership between 5 Australian Chemical Engineering departments and two industrial collaborators has successfully developed two immersive environments. These environments allow instructors to demonstrate the industrial outworking of complex engineering principles and at the same time provide an information-rich environment for development of numerous learning activities for students. These activities are built inside the 3D environment as well as being developed by instructors with reference to the environment. This architecture provides a unique resource for a wide range of learning challenges from the earliest years of an engineering program to the capstone design activities. It also has important applications within industry and secondary education to inform, enthuse and deepen understanding of these complex engineering operations.