Take a tour of over 4000 units in iLearn – for inspiration, new ideas and exemplars.
The ‘open iLearn’ initiative, launched in 2016, allows all Macquarie staff members access to opened iLearn units. It provides a great opportunity to explore ideas in the learning and teaching space from a new perspective.
With 4000 units to choose from, we’ve created a weekly series, iLearn Open House, to feature one unit a week that successfully utilises the tools and resources in iLearn. This weekly feature will provide an opportunity to explore and engage with units which may be outside of your department or subject area.
“We’ve always known that Macquarie staff do fantastic things in learning and teaching. This is an opportunity to showcase examples of innovation, creativity and best practice; not only can we recognise great work, but also kickstart conversations around how to learn from each other and collaborate on improving student – and staff – experiences and outcomes”, Professor Sherman Young on the ‘Open iLearn’ initiative.
While there is no perfect iLearn example or a single recipe for creating an engaging unit to fit every discipline, this column will provide examples of successfully utilised tools, resources and functions in the hope that you can utilise these into your own unit.
PSY338 – Organisational Psychology
Dr Ben Searle, a Senior Lecturer & Organisational Psychologist from the Department of Psychology is the convenor of PSY338 Organisational Psychology. The unit is a great example of the essentials of flipping a classroom and engaging your students online.
Searle redesigned this iLearn unit in 2012 in response to changes in engagement, including a decrease in face to face attendance. Despite positive student evaluations fewer than half of those enrolled were coming to classes.
The idea behind the redesign was to “produce a more online version so students who weren’t coming to class, could still attain a premium online lecture”, said Searle.
“Renewing the unit forced me to reassess what is important and that meant starting each lesson with a learning objective…if you’re teaching to a lecture schedule online, some topics may need 20 minutes but others may be better digested if they were broken up”.
Searle’s PSY388 unit is about the role of psychology in business practices, and how organisations go about producing what they produce. It doesn’t offer any on campus lectures but students attend weekly tutorials (apart from external students, who instead do 3 weekend half-day workshops) for which they must prepare.
The online unit is structured by topics and each topic is divided by lectures (videos), assessment (a weekly quiz), and resources (incl. readings, videos and further activities). Information on the final exam and assignments are grouped together at the end of the unit.
The weekly quiz system will stay live a week after the topic has been covered, and marks are awarded for passing each of the quizzes. Searle sees this method as a form of motivation, “participation [in the weekly quizzes] keeps them moving forward and turning up to tutorials”.
Searle recorded videos of the unit content (many under 20mins) featuring presentation slides and direct address to camera, and often include guest speakers, providing an engaging format for students to watch. “People are much more comfortable consuming smaller videos rather than gearing themselves up to watch a whole hour video”, Searle commented.
The unit also offers a neat study planner, which provides a planning guide (a form of a study contract for the student), assists with goal setting (“I plan to do…”), and presents a checklist of activities students need to have completed as part of the course requirements.
As the entire content creation in 2012 was rather time consuming, to keep the unit relevant for students, Searle selects three lectures a year and updates the content in each. This refreshes the unit gradually and diminishes the need for massive overhauls.
To access Ben’s PSY338 Organisational Psychology unit, or any opened unit go to the iLearn course search page ilearn.mq.edu.au/course. You will see a search box that allows you to search by unit code or keyword. If you are unable to see the search box, go directly to this link.
Senior Learning Designer, Chris Froissard, published ‘A Grand Tour of iLearn: Open iLearn Initiative’, introducing the Open iLearn Initiative, and links to various units showcasing their iLearn features. If you know of a unit demonstrating effective use of tools and resources in iLearn, please email: email@example.com
By Lauren Bacigalupo & Lilia Mantai