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Exploring the learning environment

This page lists the workshops and presentations for one of the streams of the 3rd ACU Learning and Teaching Conference 2014.

The learning design conversation
Presenter: Panos Vlachopoulos

Participants discussed questions relating to designing for learning using learning technologies, particularly considering questions from the morning keynote sessions.

Using social media to foster and sustain a connected learning culture
Presenters: Leanne Cameron and Miriam Tanti

The presenters identified some key experiences in engaging pre-service teachers with social media in their learning, and explained their approach for promoting learning as a shared community asset, with many people creating, contributing and preserving critical resources.

They have assisted students to build individualised learning pathways to skills such as critical and visual literacy, collaboration, networking and flexibility – essential 21st century skills for global and digital learning environments. One key focus is the building by students of a professional and personal learning network (PLN), both within and outside the University, via Twitter, Facebook, edmodo and the TeachMeet network.

Presentation (PDF 344KB)

Using technology to engage and support student learning with an increasingly diverse student cohort
Presenter: Dr Christian Lorenzen

Since 2008, Australian Catholic University has been one of the fastest growing universities in Australia, with an increasingly diverse student body which has challenged student success and retention. In 2012, the School of Exercise Science was identified as having one of the lowest first-year retention rates across the Faculty of Health Sciences, and in Semester 1, 2012, 25% of first-year students failed the unit EXSC198. In light of this, along with his National colleagues, Christian worked on several initiatives to improve student success and retention, including the use of some teaching technologies.

Christian provided insights into the strengths and weaknesses of each of the strategies for student success he trialled, including

  • brief examples of pre-recordings and his experiences using different recording technologies
  • how polls might help students develop their conceptual knowledge, and 
  • how student success was correlated with participation in LEO discussions.

In 2013, the number of students failing EXSC198 had been reduced to 15%.

Presentation (PDF 600KB)
Site: (USA) National Centre on Universal Design for Learning 

An analytical teaching and learning model
Presenter: Dr Philip Cheng

This presentation looked at the categories of barriers that

  1. lecturers would experience in their teaching process; and 
  2. students would experience in their learning process,

These two categories of barriers are extensions of Piaget’s concept of equilibration: assimilation on one hand, and accommodation on the other hand. An analytical teaching–learning model was presented where these two categories are integrated so that lecturers can identify specific problems in the teaching–learning process, and hence select appropriate measures to dismantle the barriers. The model also suggests there are no one-size-fit-all pedagogies.

The teaching and learning model provides a framework for lecturers to

  1. identify problems analytically and 
  2. strategically resolve problems in students’ learning.

Designing a sustainable e-Community of Practice: student e-mentors, Twitter & badges
Presenters: Adam Staples and Rita Finlay

Learning to learn online and learning to teach online are essential pre-requisites to a successful and enabling online educational experience. In early 2014 a pilot was initiated as part of EDFD460 Creativity & Imagination in Education, in which the tenets of communities of practice were embedded within both the structure and the delivery of the unit. A framework has emerged from this pilot that enables participants in an online unit, both student and instructor, to develop the ability to operate effectively in the online environment, as well as to engage with the discipline content of the unit.

Using this framework as a guide, participants in this workshop explored the learning environment as an e-community of practice by considering the role of student e-mentors, Twitter and badges (amongst others) in the design of online units.

Putting the ‘u’ in UDL (Universal design for learning)
Presenters: Bronwen Whyatt and Bettina Corcoran

This workshop focussed on Universal Design in Learning and the way this can enhance learning for all students.

Activities provided participants with a personal experience of UDL in practice, raising awareness of the potential effectiveness of these principles for all students. The significant impact that UDL can have for students with diverse learning styles and needs was discussed.

Presentation (PDF 587KB)