Making Lectures Interactive Workshop: A Post-Mortem

If you weren’t at our encore performance of the Making Lectures Interactive workshop (hosted by the Faculty of Science & Engineering and the Research Enrichment Program) on July 12th, boy did you miss out!

“Thank you very much for such a productive session!”
~workshop participant

Together, with approximately 60-70 lecturers from all faculties, we explored:

  • roadblocks to active / productive student learning engagement
  • strategies to guide students from surface to deeper learning
  • how to use tools in the Echo360 Active Learning Platform (ALP) –such as Interactive Slides and Analytics – for this purpose
  • methods to redesign the structure and delivery of your lecture
The how and why of Making Lectures Interactive

Key Points

  1. Transform lecture design and delivery to work within cognitive load
  2. Use learning through confusion and learning through productive failure
  3. Apply deeper learning question and justify strategies

View Presentation | Self-enrol in the Learning Innovation Hub Events iLearn unit (OneID login required) and explore the 12th July ALP presentation via the new Echo360 ALP block.

View Summary | Download workshop handout (OneID login required).

1. Transform lecture design and delivery to work within cognitive load

The clarity and simplicity of both:

  • the task itself

Task Example:
“If yesterday was Tuesday, what day of the week is tomorrow?”

  • the way in which the task is presented

Presentation Examples:
– Epilepsy Test imagery (video)
– Ron Paas (University of Wollongong) example (video)

can determine whether learning content is deemed low or high cognitive load.

Cognitive Load: knowledge as input to sensory memory, processed by working memory, stored and retrieved from long-term memory


Participants quickly recognised that:

(i) small changes to the typical ‘death-by-powerpoint’ lecture slide content

(ii) interspersed short moderately challenging activities

can temper cognitive overload.

“Utilise interactive windows to chunk my lecture in manageable lengths to avoid cognitive overload.”
~workshop participant

2. Use learning through confusion and productive failure

Santi Caballe (Open University of Catalonia, Barcelona) has a very eloquent definition of engagement:

“attentiveness to something, and with that attentiveness accompanied by positive feeling.

When engaged, they read, they post, they react, they try, they question, they keep coming back.”

When we deliver domain knowledge and design learning activities, we have potential to engage students in this way. We also, however, have the potential to cause confusion.

How can you help students, themselves and their peers, to maintain balance around the zone of optimal confusion?

View the functional Zone of Optimal Confusion (ZOC) cycle (see above) – created using Loopy – an beware of the (highwaytothedanger)zoneofoptimalconfusion.

If confusion is not mediated by the students themselves (self-regulation), or through exchange with peers, or via tutor / teacher intervention, that confusion can turn into frustration and end in students giving up (see above).

Educational technologies, like the Echo360 Active Learning Platform, offer a range of tools (such as QandA or Interactive Slides) to pause, reflect and examine student learning progress and, most importantly, provide feedback at the point of confusion either in real-time or after the lecture.

Open up some lecture windows!

Our workshop participants also identified that working in this liminal, messy, sticky, uncertain space with students, forces lecturers – the experts – to release hold over current domain knowledge structures.

“Starting from confusion… we are so use[d] to wanting a structure and to be right and yet confusion and productive failure can help you to remember what you’re learning.”
~workshop participant

Lecturers can plan time and create space for student minds to ruminate on the new information and develop ways to help them make connections.

“The significance to students of being given the opportunity to pause, take stock and learn from their peers and not just the lecturer.”
~workshop participant

Design short chunks of content interspersed with engaging ‘interactive windows’.

3. Apply deeper learning question and justify strategies

In a nutshell, to guide students from surface to deeper learning we want to focus on the ways in which they can apply their knowledge to problems.

Here, we can draw from the Hewlett Foundation and Marc Chun’s work (Diving Into Deeper Learning – TEDx Talk) on transfer.

I describe transfer as:

drawing out from memory the material learned, digested and transformed at one point to apply it at (an)other point(s) in the future.

Transfer flows are encapsulated by Angus Macgyver and James Bond / 007 (see below):

  • (right) Q presents Bond / 007 with a tool which he then goes on to apply in a future (forward) situation
  • (left) Macgyver encounters an unforeseen problem and draws (backwards) on his past knowledge and experience to assess the tools available in the current situation to deliver a response.

The best way to encourage transfer is to design opportunities for students to apply real world, authentic, ‘wicked’ problems (vs. ‘tame’ problems, that have a pre-defined, pre-determined answer).

Bring the live real-time problems you encounter in your daily research, lab or clinical work into the lecture.

How can they, not only respond by indicating what their solution is, but explain why? The Echo360 ALP Interactive Slides give you the option to design in student ‘justification’ of submitted answers.

This is critical. Chris Rust (Oxford Brookes University), who presented at Macquarie last week, posed a provocative question:

If we want to measure student’s ability to analyse, are we really doing so if they can regurgitate something we have told them as the answer?

Explanation, justification, rationale, argument. This is essential.

For more information on:

  • the models used by lecturers at Macquarie to make their lectures interactive
  • the student and staff feedback from the live streaming and live lecture interactive slides pilot and experiments
  • evidence-based strategies


our workshop presentation and activities in the Active Learning Platform: self-enrol in the Learning Innovation Hub Events iLearn unit.

a summary of the workshop: download our handout (OneID login required).

When’s the next ALP workshop?
Find out via the Teche Events page!

Got questions?
Contact us:

What is the curriculum anyway?

From the University of Melbourne’s Centre for the Study of Higher Education comes a new podcast about learning and teaching in higher education: Beyond the Lectern.

In Episode 2, Mollie Dollinger and Jason Lodge speak with Agnes Bosanquet about curriculum. We discuss ideas presented in: Fraser, S. & Bosanquet, A. (2006). The curriculum? That’s just a unit outline, isn’t it? Studies in Higher Education, 31 (3), 269-284.

Here is the link to the paper:

Listen to the podcast on iTunes:

Written by Agnes Bosanquet

FoHS 2017 Dean’s Award winners

The winners of the 2017 Dean’s Awards were announced at the Full Faculty Meeting on Wednesday 12th July. This year we had one team winner and one individual winner.

1.Dean’s Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning

Kerry-Ann O’Sullivan, Jennifer Barr, Rowena Lee and Beverley Miles:

For supporting Initial Teacher Education students prepare and enhance their literacy skills for professional accreditation through the innovative provision of self-directed online learning resources.

2. Dean’s Award for Teaching Excellence

 Penny van Bergen:

Dr Penny Van Bergen has 10-years’ experience teaching in educational psychology. She is passionate about inspiring research engagement and empowering her students as future educational scholars. In her first year at Macquarie, she founded and convened the inaugural School of Education Summer Research Scholarship Scheme. This scheme is now in its 9th year and has seen the appointment of 38 undergraduate scholars. She has also engaged over 2,500 students in authentic educational research projects and co-developed an acclaimed online research report-writing tool used by more than 4,000 students. She is currently piloting a new Undergraduate Education Research Club with 20 student volunteers.

Congratulations for all your hard work!

Teacher of the week: Janice Ford

Janice Ford is a Scholarly Teaching Fellow (TESOL) in the Department of Linguistics.

After realising I was not suited to desk work, I chased my original dream of becoming a teacher. Initially a primary teacher, I later taught English to Japanese high school and university students and loved it. I then moved to migrant education, English colleges in Sydney and most recently lectured in teacher education to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in Alice Springs. Most of the students flew in for workshops and were horrified at how cold it was in winter and the fact that the rivers had no water!  Alice Springs is stunningly beautiful and living there was a dream come true.

I enjoy Scottish Country Dancing, spending time with family – especially two young grandchildren who make me laugh, catching waves at the beach, and have recently taken up art classes. Apparently you actually can learn to draw and paint, it is not just a gift some folk possess – although it is early days yet – no exhibitions are planned for the immediate future. And I proudly cook one plum pudding each Christmas.

1. What are your main teaching commitments?

Graduate Certificate of TESOL units – APPL600 Language Teaching Methodologies, APPL922 Practicum in TESOL and APPL929 Evaluating Language Classroom Practice .

2. What’s the biggest challenge you face as a university teacher?

I would have to say engaging external students and assisting students, especially returning and International Ss, through the maze of online and blended learning – I have been a returning student studying externally in French I know how isolating and overwhelming it can be. Oh, and marking!!! What do a cockatoo and a lecturer have in common? They both go “MARK! MARK!”

3. What has helped you improve your teaching most and why?

Present continuous – “What is helping me improve my teaching?” Perhaps ‘who’ would be more appropriate. The sharing that happens here. There are PD sessions on using technology, the Foundations in Learning and Teaching (FiLT) course, and the Teaching Innovations in Linguistics group Claire Layfield established for the Scholarly Teaching Fellows in Linguistics. These all encourage me to reflect on my current practice and how my previous knowledge, skills and techniques need to be adapted to a different context.

4. What’s been your most memorable moment in teaching?

Several: At MQ, having nearly 60 students on their feet singing ‘Heads, shoulders, knees and toes’ in an Aboriginal language in Week 1.  The first 15 practicum portfolios I marked this session had me in tears for the quality of the responses and insight the students could articulate. In teaching generally, the moments when a frustrated, perhaps angry student, understands and relaxes, smiles, shares with another student or thanks me. They are the moments that count.

5. Who is your favourite music band? Why?

Anything I can dance to, especially Scottish Country Dance music with fiddles and piano accordians  – Luke Brady Dance Band is great.

Marks are a phony currency

“Marks are a phony currency” – Professor Chris Rust on assessment

Last Wednesday, the Learning Collective attended a workshop by Chris Rust, Emeritus Professor of Higher Education at Oxford Brookes University, on REDESIGNING COURSE ASSESSMENT-A PROGRAM LEADER’S GUIDE.

The workshop argued for the need to reduce (but improve) summative assessment, while increasing opportunities for formative assessment, the development of the students’ assessment literacy, and effective engagement with feedback at a program level. Overall, the workshop affirmed the value of the program-based approach that the Faculty is taking. Rust advocates for developing simple mechanisms that force people to talk to each other about their teaching.

Rust quoted Boud (1995) “We must confront the ways in which assessment undermines learning” and asked some thought-provoking questions: How confident are you that graduates have achieved all of the program learning outcomes? Do you assess higher order, complex outcomes? Does the sum of the unit learning outcomes add up to the program outcomes? Can students see the linkages between units?

During the workshop, Rust offered a number of provocations about assessment in higher education:

  • We are trying to make assessment both formative and summative by providing both marks and feedback. If we take a purely formative approach, students can take risks and learn for future tasks.
  • We don’t need the plethora of numbers we have in order to graduate students. We can make decisions about student achievement with fewer marks.
  • Marks have become a phony currency – students won’t work unless we pay them.
  • We should ban numbers (marks) in assessment.

The workshop offered helpful practical tips, such as asking students to submit a two sentence response to feedback sheet with assessment tasks. “In my last assessment, I received the following feedback …” “I have applied this feedback to this task by …” Rust also shared this (PDF) resource he has developed” Improve your students’ performance in 90 minutes.
This Teche post by Chris Froissard provides a useful sumnmary of the workshop. To access the original slides of Chris’ presentation follow this link (requires OneID login).


Written by Agnes Bosanquet

Senior Teaching Fellow, Faculty of Human Sciences

Are you ready for Session 2?


iLearn Units for S2, 2017winweb-reminders

Convenors – activate your Session 2 iLearn unit/ in iTeach
[Quick guide: Activate your iLearn space…]

Unit Guides for S2, 2017

Convenors – prepare your Session 2 Unit Guide/s in iTeach and submit for approval.
[Quick guides – see Creating Unit Guides]

Note: Unit Guides are required to be published from within iTeach and, once published, these will become publicly available from

It is also required that a link to this official published Unit Guide is added to your iLearn unit.
How do I do that? See Adding your unit guide to iLearn, it’s super easy!  If you’ve copied your S2 unit from a past offering, you will need to delete that unit guide (as it will be the old unit guide) and add the new link
Unit Guides are required to be published:
  • Externals 6 weeks prior to session start
  • Internals 2 weeks prior to session start

FYIMQ Policy and Procedures for Unit Guides:

Assessment Policy links for your reference:

  • Schedule 1: Grading Requirements
  • Schedule 2: Unit Assessment Requirements
  • Schedule 3: Higher Degree Research Assessment Requirements (under development)
  • Schedule 4: Final Examination Requirements
  • Schedule 5: Moderation Requirements

Need help with any of the above?

Email  or and either Rebecca or Beverley can help!

Also, the iLearn Drop-in Clinic will be back:

  • 17 July – 28 July 2017 (Mon-Fri) – C5A 201 10am- 2pm
  • 31 July – 4 August 2017 (Mon-Fri) – W6B 259 10am- 2pm

Beverley and Rebecca, also known Bev & Bec; and as B1 & B2.

Reminder about the use of Incomplete grades

Confused about the right code to use for an incomplete grade?

With the exam period for Session 1 now over, this is a timely reminder of the grades that may be applied for incomplete assessment, following approval of the revised Assessment Policy.

 Even though the student system (AMIS) will default to an I grade for any missing grade at the point of results ratification, it is important that the University a) minimise missing grades, and b) limit the specific use of I grades which,  under the Academic Progression procedures, will now convert to a Fail grade at Census Date of the subsequent session, with the potential of disadvantaging students’ Academic Standing.

 Some common alternatives which should be applied include:

IS:  Unit is incomplete and supplementary assessment has been granted

UL:  result awaited from Unit Convenor

UE:  Student is undertaking an exchange program; unit result awaited

 The I grade should only be used where a student has not submitted or completed one or more components of the assessment.

 Student Administration will be monitoring incomplete grades as part of the implementation of Academic Progression, and reporting results to Faculty Boards and other committees, for subsequent analysis.  Faculty Boards will review the use of incomplete grades during their forthcoming assessment  meetings.

  • Information sent on behalf of PVC L&T and Chair SLTC.

Teacher of the Week: Wayne Warburton

Wayne is a Senior Lecturer in developmental psychology in the Department of Psychology.

I was originally a plumber, but a serious car accident forced me to change life direction. After a couple of years of physical rehabilitation, I started working in gambling, financial and general counselling (a bit over 20 years ago now), and then worked towards registration as a psychologist and a PhD in psychology. I am now a Senior Lecturer in Developmental Psychology, having been employed by the Psychology Department since 2009. In that year I was also appointed Deputy Director of the Children and Families Research Centre, a position I held until its closure a few months ago.

My research interests centre around aggressive behaviour, the positive and negative impacts of violent and prosocial media (mostly video games and music), screen overuse/addiction, meditation for children’s mental health and social issues such as homelessness, problem gambling, poverty and family violence. I am passionate that a ‘fair go’ should apply to everyone in Australian society and have been an advocate for low income and vulnerable consumers in a number of roles. For example, I represent the interests of disadvantaged Australians on the Board of the NSW Electricity and Water Ombudsman, and played a similar role at the Telecommunication Industry Ombudsman for a number of years.

I love teaching and have been fortunate enough to win the Deans teaching award in 2014 and the inaugural Australian Psychological Society Outstanding Lecturer in Psychology award for Macquarie in 2015, as well as the 2016 award. I strongly believe that our research should inform our students, as well as parents, professionals and policy makers. That is, we should impart the knowledge we create as widely and effectively as possible. Hopefully this will lead to more than lip service to evidence-based policy and practice in the future. My perfect holiday involves my family, salt water, trees and the sound of waves while drifting off to sleep.

  1. What are your main teaching commitments?

I teach parts of the psychology degree related to personality development, cognitive development, adolescence and psychotic illness, across several units. I also teach my research on music in a cross disciplinary music psychology unit. The unit I am best known for is PSY399, the Psychology Capstone Unit. I built this unit from first principles in 2009/2010 and have chaired it since then. We use a continuous feedback and improvement model to sculpt the unit each year to best fit the needs of its students. Each year we place around 400-450 students into PACE placements, and each year we are blown away by the extraordinary things our students do.

  1. What’s the biggest challenge you face as a university teacher?

I think the biggest challenge is to engage students when it is so easy for students to complete a unit without coming on campus or engaging with staff or other students. In my experience students tend to do what is urgent (like essays), and this often means putting off things like keeping up to date with lectures and other course content. The students who seem to get the most out of my units are those that attend lectures, engage with their lecturers and tutors, keep up to date, ask questions, and immerse themselves in the topic. In an ideal world most of our students should have such an experience, but the reality is that only a minority of students have this level of engagement.

  1. What has helped you improve your teaching most and why?

Some years ago I was challenged (by Mitch Parsell) to articulate my teaching philosophy. I went home and reflected on this long and hard. What did I do? Why? What could I do better? What works and doesn’t work when you want to engage students and help them learn? I realised I had a number of ideas that underpinned my teaching, and I went about the task of clarifying and detailing those ideas. Since then I have been on a journey of teaching self-discovery, and my philosophy has become clearer and more defined. I am now pro-active about teaching in a certain way. I believe students want to be inspired by another human being, not just be passive recipients of knowledge. I try to help students engage with learning by engaging in a meaningful way with them. This move from teaching in default mode to teaching with a purpose and a clear philosophy has helped me to improve my teaching greatly.

  1. What’s been your most memorable moment in teaching?

I met with a student who had a very high plagiarism score. She initially denied any academic dishonesty but then broke down and explained the pressure she was under from her parents, and that she had taken this ‘short cut’ to avoid disappointing them. There were also a number of unique factors that made her parents’ expectations more poignant than usual. I explained that we would sort out the plagiarism issue fairly simply, but noted she had a bigger issue with her parents, and it was more important to sort this out. We arranged for her to see a counsellor at Campus Wellbeing. I also showed her that even with a score of zero for the essay she could still pass the unit and move forward with her degree.

I was pleased to see her pass the unit well, but even more pleased when she knocked on my door a few years later, having just graduated. She thanked me for my past help and told me that our discussion had been a turning point for her in many ways. She had spoken to her parents, who were aghast that she felt such pressure. They had had an open and frank discussion about expectations and the best means of support. This student then went from strength to strength, turning the unpleasant experience of being caught for academic dishonesty into a driver for positive change. I am so proud of what she achieved.

  1. Who is your favourite music band? Why?

Just one! That is difficult. It is hard to go past Bob Dylan. His music is so diverse, his lyrics so compelling and his songs so appealing. They just draw me in, and I often find him saying things that just resonate with me.

Roll out of live streaming

After the successful Session 1 pilot of live streaming in Psychology, the Faculty Executive Committee have approved to open up live streaming across the faculty on an opt-in basis.

The Associate Dean L&T will retain leadership of the faculty approach, including the development and implementation of a risk mitigation strategy. The Faculty Learning Support Team will roll out a suite of training resources  to systematically support the use of live streaming.

The first workshop titled Making Lectures Interactive will be held on Wednesday 12th July at 10.30am. E7A level. Register here

To read more about the Psychology live streaming pilot and the feedback from students, click here

Like to try live streaming for your unit in Session 2?

Please get in touch with the Faculty Learning Designers by email to before 21st July.

Active Learning Platform is about more than just live streaming..

It also has some interactive features to enhance student engagement as well as an inbuilt analytics dashboard. Read more