Learning for Life spearheads teaching excellence

Published: Tuesday 17th May 2016

Message from Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Craven: Graduation season is here again, reminding us all of the contribution our students make to the energy and vitality of ACU.

As this semester’s graduates embark upon the next stage in their life’s journey, it’s an opportunity to reflect on the importance of teaching and learning to our students’ experience of university.

Excellence in learning and teaching transforms people. It can liberate people from poverty and prejudice. It equips people for healthier and wealthier lives. Excellence in education delivers on these aspirations for the individual, future employer and the community.

We are continually improving the learning and teaching experience at ACU, with our Learning for Life program being a key driver of the University’s Teaching Excellence agenda.

Launched in 2014, it has been helping us achieve one of our 2015-20 strategic targets to deliver quality programs with an innovative and distinctive learning and teaching experience within the Catholic intellectual tradition.

Within higher education, it is becoming increasingly important to understand the place of technology in enabling student learning, professional practice and social interaction.

As technology continues to disrupt businesses and industries around the world it is shifting student expectations and changing the way we work.

Adapting to technological change also enables us to improve our teaching and learning experience and better meet the expectations of a generation of digitally savvy students.

That’s why we developed the Guidelines to enhance the use of the Learning Environment Online (LEO) as part of the Learning for Life program in 2015.

This is focused on consolidating and enhancing the foundations established for University teaching at ACU by providing clear guidelines, such as basic requirements for all LEO units.

These guidelines encourage staff to incorporate new and social media platforms into their unit design, where there is a sound pedagogical reason for doing so.

The guidelines also provide staff with principles for navigating complexities to ensure that the LEO experience for students is aesthetically and functionally aligned with our institutional goals.

Last year also saw the successful development and delivery of a Teaching Support Program (TSP), another Learning for Life initiative, across the faculties.

The fundamental premise underpinning the TSP is that time allocated to unit design and planning is reflected in the quality of the teaching and the learning experience for the student.

The TSP starts with the ‘design backward; deliver forward’ curriculum / unit design model, which incorporates the intended learning outcomes of the lesson, the unit, the course, the faculty’s academic program and ACU’s Mission.

A core element of the TSP is to offer a process, using practical tools, to bridge the Unit Outline with the planning and design of the LEO unit.

We live in a time where our students have higher expectations in terms of accessibility, flexibility and technology and they consistently tell us that they want more.

In 2015, Learning for Life developed a set of Standards that will ensure that our physical learning and teaching spaces are consistently  designed in terms of their layouts, fit outs and technology to support best pedagogical practice.

An important aspect of Learning and Teaching Centre work is curriculum design development and assessment.

That’s why LTC has partnered with the Institute for Advancing Community Engagement and the Courses and Academic Quality Committee to design and deliver curriculum development workshops that aim to integrate curriculum design with the Catholic Identity and Mission of the University.

Learning for Life is being delivered through six hallmarks that are transforming the future direction of learning and teaching at the University.

  • Distinctive ACU graduates
  • Excellent teaching practices
  • Excellent learning experience
  • International, culturally diverse and equitable education
  • Research informed teaching
  • Values and rewards great teaching

This year Learning for Life will seek an even closer collaboration with the academic community to implement an upgraded Lecture Capture system to meet our students’ expectation.

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