Launched in 2014, the KickStart project has grown by leaps and bounds in the last 12 months. Brainchild of Prof Leigh Wood, Associate Dean L&T (FBE) and project managed by Dr Yvonne Breyer, L&T Director (FBE) the project started off with a two pronged objective: firstly, to allow students to get a feel for what they will be studying for the next 13 weeks; and secondly, to build connections between their prior knowledge and the course content, allowing them to contextualise the learning outcomes. The KickStart motto is: Plan – Prepare – Participate.
Available two weeks prior to Week 1, KickStart packages help students familiarise themselves with their convenors, and the unit content. Whilst the package can be tweaked to suit the style of the convenor, some basic components that can be included are an introductory video, links to the unit guide, quizzes, external resources, student/industry expert video, games etc.
Run as a pilot within two undergraduate units in FBE, the results have been very positive. User analytics indicate high traffic throughout the platform, reflecting students enthusiasm for the resources. A student survey (response rate 98.9%) showed that 75% of the students had indeed taken advantage of KickStart and logged into iLearn during the two weeks before the semester started. 51% of those students stated that they understood the unit objectives better because of the KickStart package and 46% thought it was a useful start to their studies. Similarly, qualitative feedback received highlighted that the students felt better prepared to commence their studies by having access to reading materials and being introduced to discipline ideas, teachers and other students ahead of Week 1. There was also great interest in rolling out the project more broadly.
Following the success of the initial pilot, Dr Yvonne Breyer and Dr Mauricio Marrone presented the concept at the HERDSA conference in Hong Kong in July and at the MQ L&T week in mid September. This was again positively received by both the students and the academics. As a result, the office of the Pro Vice-Chancellor Learning & Teaching, Prof Sherman Young, has provided funding for an expansion of the KickStart program across the other faculties, to be coordinated by Elaine Huber from the Learning and Teaching Centre. The Faculties of Arts, Science and Human Sciences have since commenced a rollout of KickStart.
Student feedback has always been at the core of the KickStart project. As another step in that direction, the L&T Team from FBE was further successful in securing a $40,000 Strategic L&T grant to involve students more deeply with this project. The “Students as co-creators” the grant – following the lead of the PVC’s proposed strategy around student involvement – engages Merit scholars to review and create KickStart packages for FBE units to. Georgia Scapens is leading this project. The results will be rolled out in Session 1, 2015 and is definitely a project to watch out for!
Having not even celebrated its one year anniversary yet, the KickStart project is already going from strength to strength. A little birdie has told us that there is an open content and logo competition in the wings. So get your thinking caps on and watch this space.