Using the perceptions of online university students to improve the pedagogy and practice of distance educators: Them helping us to improve IT

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David Bolton
West Chester University
@wcuprof

Maria Northcote
Avondale College of Higher Education

Peter Kilgour
Avondale College of Higher Education

Jason Hinze
Avondale College of Higher Education

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Wednesday 6 December, 11am - 11.30am
Stream 5
Room C204

Abstract

This paper reports on the findings of an investigation into the experiences of distance education students, including both undergraduate and postgraduate students from one higher education institution, Avondale College of Higher Education. All of the institution’s current students who were enrolled in a distance course or who had previously completed a distance component of their course were surveyed using an online questionnaire. A subgroup of this population also contributed to focus group discussions. Findings from an analysis of the combined data gathered from the online questionnaire and the focus group were used to inform the institution’s professional development (PD) program that supports lecturers to design and teach online courses. Results of the study are outlined in terms of distance students’ perceptions about the institution’s distance education program, specifically in relation to course structure, interaction and communication, presentation of materials, use of media and design consistency. The paper concludes with recommendations for addressing the weaknesses of online learning programs including both curriculum design and PD strategies.

About the authors

David Bolton

David L. Bolton, Ph.D. graduated with his master’s degree in research and statistical methodology from Andrews University in Michigan, and his Ph.D. in research and measurement from Florida State University. He has been teaching at West Chester University since 1991. The courses and workshops he has taught include evaluation and measurement, research methods, statistics, and educational technology. His primary focus of research has been the power of educational technology to engage students in the learning process. In 2016, he spend his sabbatical at Avondale College of Higher Education as a visiting scholar. He has been teaching distance education courses through West Chester University since 2011, focusing upon research and statistics.

Maria Northcote

Associate Professor Maria Northcote is the Director of the Centre for Advancement of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (CASTL) at Avondale College of Higher Education. She is an experienced higher education teacher, leader and researcher and is involved in undergraduate and postgraduate education, and professional development. Her current research interests include threshold concepts, online learning, assessment and mathematics education.

Peter Kilgour

Dr Peter Kilgour is a senior lecturer and Director of the Christian Education Research Centre at Avondale College of Higher Education. He has 39 years experience in the Christian education as a secondary teacher, school principal, school system director and more recently lecturer and researcher in pre-service teacher education of Avondale College of Higher Education. He has taught in five different countries and written the secondary mathematics curriculum for two of those. He holds a Doctor of Mathematics Education from Curtin University in Perth. His research interests include Christian school learning environments, innovations in tertiary learning and teaching, online education and cultural awareness in tertiary students.

Jason Hinze

Dr Jason Hinze is a lecturer and Secondary Course Convenor at Avondale College of Higher Education. For the past 20 years he has made significant contributions towards Education as a Secondary Teacher, Community Educator and Initial Teacher Educator in Australia, Cambodia, England, India and Nepal. His current research interests include wellbeing education and the power of overseas professional teaching experiences on the development of pre-service teachers.


Women and rural people’s participation in tertiary education through internet resources in India: A narrative inquiry

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Sandeep Kaur Sandhu
Monash University, Australia

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Wednesday 6 December, 11.30am - 12pm
Stream 5
Room C204

Abstract

India has a large formal higher education system, however, the enrolment of women and rural people in universities is not substantial. Women enrolment in tertiary education was reported only 41.5% of the total enrolment in the academic year 2010-2011 and only 7% population in rural areas have a higher education. Many socio-cultural barriers prevent people from accessing higher education in India. The integration of the Internet into the higher education sector has the potential to improve access to tertiary education in India regardless gender and area. Using personal narrative and interview data, this article explores how Internet resources can be used to enhance women and rural people’s participation in tertiary education in India.

About the authors

Sandeep Kaur Sandhu

Dr Sandeep Kuar Sandhu is a Sessional Lecturer at Monash University, Australia and a casual research assistant at RMIT University, Australia. Sandeep was awarded her PhD on the use of educational technology in higher education settings from Monash University in 2016. Dr Sandeep Sandhu has special expertise in use of ICT in higher education, mixed-method approaches in educational researches, teacher education, narrative inquiries and the Social Construction of Technology theory. Sandeep has almost eight years of multicultural experience of teaching and research in tertiary education in Australia, UK and India.


Generating learning through the crowd: The role of social media practices in supporting students as producers at scale

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Peter Bryant
London School of Economics and Political Science
@peterbryantHE

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Wednesday 6 December, 11am - 11.30am
Stream 3
Room L206

Abstract

Social media and higher education pedagogy have enjoyed a chequered relationship with significant debates about the efficacy of social media as a site of student centred learning, the manager/host of an individual’s learning trajectory and as a tool of facilitating collaborative learning at scale. This paper presents the findings from the evaluation of Constitution UK, an innovative civic engagement and open learning project run by the London School of Economics in the UK. This was the lead initiative in an institution wide shift in pedagogical approach that was designed to transform the learning experiences of students through supporting students to be co-producers of knowledge. The Students as Producers project (SAP@LSE) was aligned to the School’s learning experiences curricular enhancement objectives, which sought to transform the student experience from primarily didactic to one that prepared the learner for the challenges of work and practice and engaged them in their own learning, through making. The LSE have been engaged in a number of projects that use crowdsourcing and citizenship as a catalyst for learning. The core principle behind these initiatives is that learning is a complex and agile process in the post-digital age and can be significantly enhanced through student led community learning, peer learning and informal learning. Wanting to engage our students more actively in the shaping of their study, their learning and their career, we designed a linked series of projects inform to varying degrees by social media practices. We argue that some of the behaviours inherent in social media learning (centred on fleeting connections, digital identity and discontinuous engagement) can create the conditions for effective learning through experience and practice, both at scale in open, online modes as well in the face-to-face delivery environment.

About the authors

Peter Bryant

Peter Bryant is the Head of Learning Technology and Innovation at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He leads programmes and initiatives to transform the educational experience at the LSE through the innovative use of technology and digital pedagogies. His team recently won the Overall Gold Award for innovative pedagogy at the Wharton-QS Stars Reimagine Education awards. He was previously a Principal Lecturer in Educational Technology and Development at the University of Greenwich. Prior to this role, Peter had over twenty years’ experience as a lecturer, Director of Programmes, Head of Department and curriculum designer, working into two countries and teaching programmes from work based learning, marketing, media and management. Peter is the co-founder of the Future Happens initiative which uses innovative approaches to problem-solving and change management to engage the wider sector in debates around technology, pedagogy and the future of the University.


From how to why: Student experiences of a university’s technology-enhanced learning over five years

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Carol Russell
Western Sydney University

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Wednesday 6 December, 11.30am - 12pm
Stream 4
Room L209

Abstract

This is a longitudinal case study of student perspectives on Western Sydney University’s strategic initiatives to promote technology-enhanced learning (TEL) from 2012 to 2017. The study analyses data from students throughout this period, and includes consideration of how the student experience is being shaped by academic and institutional support for TEL. Initially the university focus was on use of mobile technologies and ‘blended’ learning environments; as a platform for transforming pedagogy. In 2013, teaching staff and new undergraduate students were issued with tablet devices. As well as investing in the devices and supporting campus infrastructure, the institution also provided additional support for curriculum and staff development. For two years, students’ feedback about the tablets was overwhelmingly positive about their value for learning. In 2015, most undergraduates had tablet devices and TEL was becoming business as usual. However, the evaluation feedback that year showed that use of tablets had begun to decrease and there was a corresponding increase in use of smartphones. For some activities, laptops were preferred. In 2016, multiple types of device were issued to students, with some disciplines choosing laptops and in 2017 the University provided free digital textbooks instead of devices. Students’ use of different devices for learning activity has been shifting and evidence gathered internally from students and staff has played a role in adapting to this. While TEL strategies differ between universities, the analysis provides an example of how systematic evaluation evidence can support systemic adaptation as the learning technology environment changes.

About the authors

Carol Russell

Carol Russell is currently a Senior Lecturer in the central Learning Transformations team at Western Sydney University. In this role she has been coordinating the educational evaluation of institutional technology-enhanced learning initiatives.


Flipping diverse classrooms: Instructor experiences and perceptions

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Ekaterina Pechenkina
Swinburne University of Technology
@DrKatya_Pech

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Wednesday 6 December, 11am - 11.30am
Stream 2
Room R113

Abstract

Flipped Classroom is a pedagogical approach in which all or some of direct instruction is moved outside of the face-to-face environment to dedicate more in-class time to ‘hands-on’, experimental and engaging activities. Usually enabled by educational technology, the Flipped Classroom approach draws on the ‘active learning’ philosophy which implies that students must share responsibility for their learning with their instructors, resulting in more impactful learner behaviours. Considering university classrooms are increasingly diverse, with international students forming a significant cohort of learners, instructor perceptions of internationals students in Flipped Classrooms are of interest. This is particularly important because international students, especially those from Asian countries, can be perceived by instructors as ‘passive’ learners’ regardless of students’ actual skills, learning preferences and goals. This presumed ‘passivity’ may clash with instructors’ goals, potentially creating tensions-filled dynamics between instructors and international students in Flipped Classrooms. The proposed article explores university instructors’ perceptions of international students in technology-enabled Flipped Classrooms to understand how these perceptions may influence instructors’ choices for the design of the flip. Findings demonstrate that while some instructors view international students as a barrier to impactful Flipped Classroom, others draw on their classroom’s diversity, using it as a source of inspiration, and designing the flip with international students in mind.

About the authors

Ekaterina Pechenkina

Dr Katya (Ekaterina) Pechenkina is Research Fellow at the Learning Transformations Unit, Swinburne University of Technology. Katya holds a PhD in anthropology from the University of Melbourne and several other degrees. She was a 2003-2004 International Research and Exchange Board fellow at the California State University Bakersfield, where she majored in sociology. Anthropologist and education researcher, Katya’s research interests encompass the discourses of technology, innovation, teaching excellence, and Indigenous experiences in higher education. Katya has published widely and serves as a peer reviewer for several major journals, conferences and publishers. Katya is a member of the teaching team delivering Swinburne's Graduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching (Higher Education): she convenes and teaches a unit focusing on scholarly teaching designed to help academic staff to explore, evaluate and improve their teaching practices. Katya is an avid social media user and can be found on Twitter @DrKatya_Pech and Facebook @DrKatyaPech


Constructive alignment of materials in tertiary programs

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Sook Jhee Yoon
The University of Melbourne
@sookjhee

Paul Gruba
The University of Melbourne

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Wednesday 6 December, 12pm - 12.30pm
Stream 5
Room C204

Abstract

In blended tertiary programs, technology is mixed in face to face settings, and learning activities happen both on- and offline. With the move towards blended learning, tertiary programs and their curricula have become more varied and complicated. Such complexity and variation is evident, for example, in the program learning outcomes, learning activities and assessment tasks. Yet little is known how such complex factors interact, and thus influence, decisions regarding the curriculum in higher education settings from the perspective of administrators, lecturers and students. This study examines constructive alignment of materials in blended tertiary programs. Two case studies of blended programs in a large research intensive Australian university were studied. Using a pedagogical claims analysis as a means to structure the study, the researchers gathered and analysed qualitative data through a series of cycles, seeking to refine themes such that they are defensible, trustworthy and rigorous. Findings of the study point to factors that influence constructive alignment with implications for materials design and use.

About the authors

Sook Jhee Yoon

Sook Jhee Yoon is a Ph.D candidate in The University of Melbourne. Her areas of interest are materials development and the use of technology in language teaching.

Paul Gruba

Paul Gruba, originally trained as a journalist, works in areas of educational technology research to do with non-native speakers, blended language learning and language program evaluation. Paul is currently an associate editor for AJET.


It takes a village: Supporting the integration of digital textbooks in higher education

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Debborah Smith
Bond University

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Wednesday 6 December, 12pm - 12.30pm
Stream 4
Room L209

Abstract

Digital textbooks now incorporate various technological enhancements, and offer many opportunities for learning and teaching in higher education. Despite some enthusiasm for this medium, lecturers tend not to integrate the extra activities into their courses preferring instead to simply have them available as optional extra activities for students. One reason for this barrier to use is the time and effort required to integrate technology into the curriculum in a meaningful way, and lecturers may feel they lack the necessary knowledge to do this effectively. Despite the existence of institutional support to assist educators with technology enhanced learning, the services don’t always align with what faculty want or need. As a result, there have been calls to improve staff training and professional development. This paper presents a theorised inquiry into educators’ reflections on the integration of digital textbooks using Mishra & Koehler’s TPACK framework as an underpinning theory. The findings suggest the need for training and support that is individualised to instructors’ specific needs, and allows for increased collaboration between various stakeholders. It is concluded that professional development that focusses on the development of TPACK, and operates within a collaborative and context-specific learning community could support the increased uptake of digital textbooks in higher education.

About the authors

Debborah Smith

Debborah is in the final year of her PhD candidature at Bond University under the supervision of Professor Jeff Brand, Professor Shelley Kinash, and Dr Donna Henson. Her research is investigating factors that influence higher education teachers’ adoption and use of digital textbooks. Debborah’s background areas of teaching expertise are English as a Second Language and academic skills development, and she is presently employed in the role of Student Experience Advisor at the University of Sunshine Coast, Fraser Coast Campus.


Internet of Things (IoT), PBL and 3D holographic modelling for smart agriculture education at The University of Queensland

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Kim Bryceson
The University of Queensland
@kimpob742

Amando Navas Borrero
The University of Queensland

Fabian Vasuian
The University of Queensland

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Wednesday 6 December 12pm - 12.30pm
Stream 1
Room H102 Allison Dickson Lecture Theatre

Abstract

The project described in this paper builds an innovative educational ‘front end’ to exciting technological developments in real time biophysical data gathering that are currently happening at The University of Queensland (UQ)’s regional campus (UQ Gatton ~85km SW of Brisbane in SE Queensland), via an Internet of Things (IoT) UQ Smart Campus Project. This paper describes the technologies involved, the development of a multifaceted web-based interface (dashboard) to the data collected, problem based learning modules, and 3D modelling using the real time streaming data acquired through the Internet of Things (IoT) technology of the UQ Gatton Smart Campus Initiative. The idea is to produce innovative teaching and assessment modules for multiple different courses in the UQ Science Faculty. The challenges and workarounds and two examples of using the data collected for problem-based learning modules will be described. Some discussion is included on what these technologies could provide in relation to delivering virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality environments for further teaching & learning developments in the “E” space being trialed currently with partners UQ ITS, Telstra/Readify, and Labster.

About the authors

Kim Bryceson

Kim is Professor of Agribusiness and Associate Dean Academic of the Science Faculty at the University of Queensland. Early research involved developing and implementing computer and satellite technology for integrated pest management, drought monitoring, site specific management and agribusiness decision support system development with the Commonwealth and Qld State governments. Over the last 15 years in academe she has been involved in agrifood supply and value chain analysis domestically and internationally with particular focus on using various modelling tools to construct supply chain risk assessment and performance management scenarios. She is the Director of the Agricultural Remote Sensing Laboratory at UQ’s Gatton campus where the collection of real time streaming Big Data through an Internet of Things infrastructure, plus the design, building and use of small drone technology and robotics for agricultural and environmental monitoring and sub-tropical agricultural research and teaching, is flourishing.

Amando Navas Borrero

An electrical engineer by first degree and professional experience, Armando has a family background in the cattle industry and is currently undertaking a PhD at the Agricultural Remote Sensing Lab at UQGatton specialising in the development and operationalisation of an Internet of Things data collection infrastructure as a tool for creating better management solutions for farmers

Fabian Vasuian

Fabian has completed a dual BEng / BSc in 2016 at UQ and after completing the required Internship for the BEng at the Agricultural Remote Sensing Lab in 2015/2016 at UQGatton, he is now working as a Systems Engineer with the UQ Gatton Smart Campus Internet of Things project, primarily delivering on the Data Dashboard product


By design: Facing the academic challenges of implementing technology enhanced learning in higher education and the example of a third year biology unit

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Brett Fyfield
Queensland University of Technology
@rainbowhill

Iwona Czaplinski
Queensland University of Technology
@IwonaCzaplinski

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Wednesday 6 December, 11am - 11.30am
Stream 4
Room L209

Abstract

This paper takes a design research approach to the challenge of transforming learning and teaching in higher education (HE) as it is experienced at the level of an interdisciplinary team composed of content matter experts and specialists in education. It is based on the reflections of members of the team working collaboratively to transform an undergraduate biology unit to improve both student engagement and teaching staff satisfaction.
Using semi-structured interviews and reflective inquiry the authors attempt to uncover the salient features of the process of implementing technology enhanced learning, and generate constructive design solutions. The work is situated in the scholarship of learning and teaching as it encourages "reflection-in-action" and a commitment to sharing what works in STEM teaching and learning in contemporary environments. The teaching team focus on the complex problems of preparation, attendance, and engagement in a series of intensive labs, whilst the professional staff focus on the complex problems of innovation and student engagement in HE.

A number of known and hypothetical learning design principles are integrated with the affordances of the chosen learning environment (OneNote) and used to propose plausible solutions. These solutions are used to iteratively refine the learning environment and reveal new design principles. The paper emphasises the benefits of providing for and supporting the emergence of microcultures, and suggest strategies for those that wish to emulate the approach taken.

About the authors

Brett Fyfield

Brett Fyfield works with people and teams in education to improve learning and teaching through the appropriate use of technology. From his earliest beginnings as a multimedia developer he has designed and developed compelling user experiences in the classroom, online and in the real world that make the most of new media. Currently in his role as Instructional Multimedia Developer at QUT he works with academics, staff and students to develop and support technology enhanced learning. He is dedicated to transforming education through fostering personal and professional growth and promotes the use of design thinking in teams to produce new digital pedagogies. He is interested in understanding how casual conversations become the catalyst for change, and how their transformative power may be harnessed for broader organisational and social change.

Iwona Czaplinski

Iwona holds a Master in Applied Linguistics, an MPhil in Educational research and is currently enrolled in PhD programme in a School of Mathematical Sciences, at Queensland University of Technology (QUT). In her research, Iwona is looking at the ways of assisting modern Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) undergraduate students in becoming expert learners, that is strategic, resourceful and self-regulated. To this end, Iwona investigates students’ learning networks, their networked learning habits and the potential of using better the social, educational and technological affordances offered by new technologies, in the context of ever-changing learning environment.