Exemplar: Dr Jayanath Ananda - MGT3MCC

At La Trobe there are some excellent practices of teaching and learning using flexible, online and blended approaches. This exemplar has been chosen to develop awareness and knowledge of how subjects and courses can use learning technologies to engage students and increase learning outcomes.

Designing learning for multicampus teaching

Dr Jayanath Ananda
Lecturer, Clinical simulation program coordinator, Nursing and Midwifery

The challenge

The third year subject Managing Climate Change (MGT3MCC) was designed to address two issues:

  1. Students were offered a restricted set of electives and subjects from any one regional campus.
  2. Low enrolment in a subject on one campus risked its viability.

A flexible multicampus subject was designed to offer the subject to more students, develop a curriculum that drew on the disciplinary expertise available across campuses, and make better use of resources. The subject aimed to address the need for equitable delivery for La Trobe students from all locations, and place all resources online, structured via content modules. 

Description

The subject MGT3MCC was offered to students in 2011 from all four regional campus: Albury-Wodonga, Bendigo, Mildura and Shepparton. In the initial offering, the number of student was 33. The subject is taught from the School of Economics, but is interdisciplinary subject, with contributing lecturers from the Faculty of Science, Technology and Engineering. It was available to students studying degrees in accounting, commerce and business.

The subject consisted of three modules:

  1. Climate change science and empirics,
  2. Economics and policy frameworks
  3. Business implications for responding to climate change.

Flow-chart (Fig 1) how to navigate the resources and structure the student engagement, sets up a consistent pattern for progress through modules. 

Figure 1

Each learning module has a set of structured online tutorials with activities: lecture slides and notes, with reflective tutorial activities and materials. There were no recorded lectures, rather there were short instructional videos guiding students through activities – one for each module.

Modules included two assessment items: a discussion forum and an online quiz. The final activity for a modules was the in-built knowledge checklist. This provided feedback to address difficult areas and guide chat sessions.

In a fully online subject, it was considered important to build cohesion among the student cohort. Consequently, a workshop by videoconference was held in Week 8. This workshop addressed the final assignment – a business case study, using the Moodle wiki as an individual development space. Most students in this subject had their own work experience to bring to this task, and investigate how a business responded to climate change.  The wiki project enabled students to develop progressively over three modules with lecturer support.

Students used the wikis to build a rich media response. 

Critical success factors

Two components contributed to the success of the new subject:

  • The structured online "tutorial": is a reflective learning activity after each major topic, with student submissions as a preparation for online quizzes.
  • The in-built feedback "Knowledge checklist": After completion of each module, students are required to provide feedback using an online checklist. Feedback from these checklists will be used to organise content for the face-to-face Workshop.
  • The Wiki project: The practicum requires students to use and apply the concepts covered in the Modules and create an individual WiKi using a wide range of online media (text, images, videos, etc.). A typical project examines either an industry sector or a corporate case impacted by climate change and outline strategies from a business perspective.

Comments from students on the Wiki Project indicated a positive rating for the authentic learning experience which allowed students to incorporate and apply this subject to their own workplace. 

Future plans

In future iterations of this subject, there are plans to use Blackboard Collaborate (Elluminate) instead of videoconferencing. This has several advantages: More sessions are possible since Elluminate can be organised from an office desktop computer, rather than booking specialised videoconference rooms; more sessions, group tutorials are possible, which is likely to enable a more flexible, more interactive learning environment.

Plans for the future also include development of a study pack that is downloadable, with readings and instructions, for students to have available as a whole package.