DLS innovation exemplar: Dr Christine Kettle

The 2015 Digital Learning Strategy (DLS) Innovation Grants were designed to encourage inventive, future-thinking practices that aim to enhance digital learning experiences for La Trobe students. These grants cover four categories: multi-campus teaching, digital assessment, online international learning and multi-campus technologies.

Science assessment through a student produced e-Book

Project leader: Dr Christine Kettle

What did you do? Why?

The project was designed to move away from traditional lecture-driven content delivery through the development of a student-created e-book. Students worked in groups to write and peer review the chapters for the e-book, with the final version forming the text book to study for the subject's exam.

The project will provide a template design that could be used for other subjects and, with the utilisation of digital forums, feedback can be given remotely allowing student access from anywhere with an internet connection.

What is innovative about your project?

The project is innovative in that it has flipped the usual student learning experience, requiring the class to write their own e-book in place of using text books and lectures to access the subject content. It provides students and staff with opportunities to engage with tools for building digital resources and learning materials. By bringing students into this process, they become managers and drivers of their own learning.

How did you manage your project?

As the sole staff member in the project I was able to meet with students each week for feedback sessions to ensure that we followed a timetable to get the chapters written, reviewed, summarised and questions and answers supplied for each chapter.

What support did you receive?

Building on the support from my department, I worked with Greg Bird from La Trobe Learning and Teaching (LTLT), whose knowledge and assistance has been crucial to the project getting going and I have learnt new skills from his guidance.

What surprised you?

I was surprised by how enthusiastically the students embraced the idea and worked to timelines so well. They have communicated with me and each other throughout the project to produce the finished e-book.

I have also been surprised that I have been able to do more within the digital framework and the technology than I initially expected. Having the time and support has allowed me to learn new skills that I now feel confident to expand.

How have students responded and how will they benefit?

The students have been quite engaged with the concept and really took ownership of the final product. I feel that giving them responsibility to research the content for their own chapters has produced many new skills and benefits. In addition to the discipline-specific knowledge the students have gained, they have also developed the ability to:

  • source material and communicate it back in an understandable format;
  • work independently and in groups to produce a united piece of work;
  • collaborate and negotiate effectively within their teams and as a whole class; and
  • peer review and critically analyse others work to provide feedback.

How can staff utilise your project outcomes?

The high level of student-driven work, potential use of digital forums and discussions and the removal of lecture-delivered content provides staff with a truly flexible subject design model to implement.

One of the aims of the project is to construct a template for the delivery and assessment of a subject by producing an e-book. This would enable this format to be utilised by many other disciplines throughout the University.

Resources to assist staff thinking about this format will be made available in 2016.

What are the broader applications (or) implications for the future?

This project aims to provide a template that can be translated to a variety of disciplines and up-scaled to be utilised cross-campus or in online environments. Further work will be undertaken on this project in the future to streamline the process and explore new digital methods for collaboration and feedback.