How Australian universities are implementing innovative blended learning methods to boost student engagement

Advances in technology have enabled students with greater flexibility in how they learn, which has influenced the need for educators to engage students beyond the traditional classroom environment. And in response to major changes in pedagogy, many universities have directed efforts towards implementing blended learning methods to support student outcomes.

But the focus on blended learning is proving to be multifaceted. Improving student engagement is unquestionably vital in the context of learning outcomes; but so too is engagement between educators and learning designers.

Effective blended learning environments can only be achieved when these stakeholders work closely together, and are able to coordinate against a common objective. While it’s far easier said than done, new approaches are being developed to establish a culture around blended learning.

At the same time, capacity building frameworks are emerging as a tool to facilitate experiences like eLearning and mobile learning (mLearning) – this also extends to supporting students in workplace environments (or workplace learning).

And then, of course, there’s measuring student engagement, which is where the ability to scale feedback takes centre stage to improve blended learning methods. Some universities are using dashboards to monitor engagement; while others are experimenting with newer methods to personalise feedback.

Ahead of Blended Learning 2016, several specialists from Deakin University, Monash University, Charles Sturt University and University of Sydney, share exclusive insight into how they are supporting student learning outcomes by creating effective and adaptable blended learning environments.

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Engaging students in enquiry-driven learning at Monash University

Ms Barbara Yazbeck, Research and Learning Skills, Monash University Library

We’ve developed a Blended Learning module for second-year students in the Bachelor of Pharmacy to teach information skills in an Evidence-based Practice.

This represents a key collaboration between the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and the Monash University Library, recently recognised in a Faculty Teaching Citation and a Vice Chancellor’s Award

The Library has a learning skills program, with learning skill advisors that work with their librarian counterparts and faculty to embed research and learning skills in the curriculum.

And because we take an embedded  approach to skill development, we try to be involved in curriculum as much as possible. In this case, we work with the unit coordinator for Evidence-based Practice.

Two workshops–A and B –are team taught and form a major assessment for this core unit. These workshops are three-hour sessions that require significant resourcing, which can be a challenge, as we’re a small branch here at the Parkville campus.

It’s vital that our teaching is embedded and timetabled into curriculum. In addition, the workshops are team-taught, with a learning skill advisor, a subject librarian, and a faculty instructor involved.

1

Monash University campus, courtesy of Barbara Yazbeck

And because we take an embedded approach to skill development, we try to be involved in curriculum as much as possible. In this case, we work with the unit coordinator for Evidence-based Practice.

Two workshops–A and B –are team taught and form a major assessment for this core unit. These workshops are three-hour sessions that require significant resourcing, which can be a challenge, as we’re a small branch here at the Parkville campus.

It’s vital that our teaching is embedded and timetabled into curriculum. In addition, the workshops are team-taught, with a learning skill advisor, a subject librarian, and a faculty instructor involved.

We’ve been involved in this unit for more than five years, culminating in the adoption of a blended learning approach three years ago. This initiative was piloted in 2013, and now exists as an online module that we use in a blended workshop model.

These insights by Ms Barbara Yazbeck are part of an eBook in which four learning design specialists, including Ms Yazbeck, discussed how they are creating blended learning environments to support student learning outcomes in response to major pedagogy changes. 

Read the eBook to learn more about how universities are:

  1. Developing a blended learning module for students to gain skills in an Evidence-based Practice
  2. Establishing a culture of enquiry-based learning and practice for students
  3. Using learning analytics to understand student behaviour and provide more relevant resources
  4. Shifting mindsets and capacity to design clear learning pathways that motivate and assist students to learn
  5. Providing academics with choice in the role they play in the blended learning team, and the extent and pace of change and technology uptake

If you’re interested in learning more about the Blended Learning Summit that will be held in October, download the brochure or visit http://www.blended-learning.com.au. 

 

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