Dr Monique Crane, Lecturer in Organisational Psychology was the academic lead on a Faculty Partnership Project in Session 1 this year that aimed to redesign PSY 963 Coaching and Positive Psychology in a way that was both engaging and academically challenging for students. The LTC project team worked with Monique to rejuvenate the curriculum for blended delivery, introducing a number of tools and techniques that included collaborative authorship tasks and video scenarios.
Prezi for Collaborative Authorship
With collaborative authorship teaching tasks, PSY 963 students literally contribute to the workshop material, creating a mixture of expert content and student-generated content for the unit.
Collaborative authorship is a strategy that makes use of participatory technologies in the classroom as a way of developing student-centred learning opportunities and increasing student engagement. Monique reported that such participatory technologies allow “students to collaboratively develop an outcome related to the workshop content through the use of an online medium such as Prezi or a Wiki. This process can be moderated and guided by the chair in real time. At the end of this process, all students have access to their collaboratively authored resources that will assist in guiding their future practice.”
Monique is now a collaborator on a project funded by a grant from the Innovation and Scholarship Program (with the LTC’s Oliver Coady) to extend the work from the Faculty Partnership project in examining the role of collaborative authorship in the classroom to improve student engagement and skill transfer.
Authentic Video Scenarios
Macquarie’s Human Resources Department collaborated with Monique and the LTC project team in the production of video scenarios for PSY 963 which demonstrate a coach implementing a strategy with clients in different situations. Rather than actors, the videos star professional coaching experts based here at Macquarie who also helped script the videos. These videos are not only core resources for the unit itself but can also be used in other professional development settings, as well as a teaching resource in the classroom or online.
Monique says she values the insights gained from her experience working with the LTC project team and is now implementing the new teaching strategies she has learned across all her units. “The LTC has expertise in the area of adult learning and this means that they are able to provide insight into new teaching methods and content delivery. Students are exposed to innovative teaching techniques too.”
Changes in technology, student expectations and economic pressures mean that we face challenges in the ways in which we organise and offer curricula. One of the alternative ways in which teaching and learning can be organised is through delivering in a compressed time frame.
Teaching successfully in a shortened time poses different challenges from delivering units in traditional semester time frames. The Session 3 Project being undertaken in the LTC is investigating the challenges and opportunities of compressed teaching. The project aims to provide resources which will help those designing and delivering units in compressed mode. There are some exciting innovations around the university. Some of these are through providing students with the opportunity to expand their experiences of learning through the new challenges that become possible when face to face and online learning are combined.
A series of workshops is being offered in September, a Roundtable has been organised for Learning and Teaching Week and we will continue to add to the resources that are available on the Session 3 Web page.
FLaMe is a professional development program that introduces Macquarie staff to some of the key principles and techniques for successfully blending online and face-to-face teaching. Participants are supported to redesign a current iLearn unit or create a new one for blended delivery.
Dr Albert Atkin participated in the FLaMe program earlier this year. “Even though I have quite a lot of teaching experience, the FLaMe course was very enlightening for me and I have been able to put much of what I learned there to use. More importantly, I think it has improved my teaching, and I am confident that it has made the learning experience for my students much better. The resources and techniques for developing an online community, for instance, have been especially important for how I want to teach. I have already made use of many of the course’s insights and I am exploring ideas about synchronous virtual classroom space even further.”
“It helps that the teaching team are so knowledgeable and open, and the learning environment so relaxed and collegial too. Really, a great course and I got so much from it, and I’d recommend it to anyone”.
Dr Michael Cavanagh and A/Prof Joanne Mulligan from the School of Education have been working with a team from the LTC on redesigning EDUC258 Mathematics in Schools for Session 3, an experience which Michael says has ‘changed my perception of the potential benefits of online delivery for students’.
A Session 3 timeframe means the weekly topics are compressed from 13 weeks down to 5 online modules in iLearn, complemented by a reduced number of face-to-face sessions. The unit will introduce students to some fundamental ideas about the learning and teaching of mathematics in schools. According to Michael, ‘the biggest challenge has been to identify the key concepts and skills for students to learn about in the unit. My colleagues and I decided that it was more important for students to think deeply about what they were learning and have sustained opportunities to reflect on their growing understanding of the unit content, so we wanted to allow time for that to occur. That meant cutting back on some content, but I think the end result will lead to significant student learning.’
In order to accommodate the compressed timeframe, the unit also employs quite a bit of video, including short ‘talking head’ videos where teaching staff describe some of the key concepts, as well as panel discussions. With maintaining student engagement a high priority in the online space, the unit also includes a video of a past student giving tips on how to engage online. The LTC team have also helped to create a ‘teacher voice’ in the online space that guides the students on how they should work through the online materials. Photos of the teaching staff are displayed within the activities in iLearn.
The idea of a learning community underpins the unit, with students expected to take an active role in their own learning and share a greater responsibility for their progress. Michael says that in the new online design, ‘there are many more opportunities for students to engage with the ideas, share their thinking to enrich their own learning and that of their peers, and to reflect on how their new knowledge is supporting their development as teachers. It’s my hope that by participating in the online activities and thinking about the ideas students will find the subsequent on-campus sessions more beneficial.’
EDUC258 will be run this year in Session 3, and an in-depth evaluation will be undertaken via TEDS surveys and focus groups. Looking further ahead, Michael says, ‘I hope that we can incorporate the underlying design principles that have guided the redevelopment of the unit and many of the learning and teaching activities into the Session 1 offering of the unit.’
‘For me, the project has been a great opportunity to work with LTC staff who are experts in learning design. Their ideas and practical support have really helped me to reflect on how to maximise learning opportunities for students in an online environment.’
Pre-recorded lectures can be really beneficial for students, and are easy to create from your office just using your webcam. Our Educational Design team offer some straightforward ways to make sure the benefits aren’t negated by poor production.
Be prepared. Have a solid plan and a script, and rehearse before you switch on the camera
Think of the camera as your students. Look at the camera when you’re speaking to ensure an engaging eyeline.
Good sound quality is almost more important than image quality for videos that convey information. Ensure background noise is kept to a minimum and your webcam microphone is correctly set up. If possible, use an external USB microphone or similar.
Keep it short and punchy to ensure your audience doesn’t switch off
Ensure there is adequate light shining on your face. Light from behind the computer is better than overhead lighting or a window behind you.
De-clutter the background.
Be confident. Projecting a confident attitude on camera is a big step towards star quality.
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