Past seminars

Tuesday 8 September 2015: Learning in the Digital Age seminar

Time: 1-2pm
Venue: HUED108, Bundoora campus
Regional video conference: TBC


Ensuring student engagement and success: a multi-campus, first year subject using blended-learning technologies
By Ms Nicole El Haber, Mr Greg Jamieson, Ms Swati Nagpal& Ms Elaine Plant

Business Foundations (BUS1BUF) is a common first-year core subject in FBEL, which has been delivered across a number of our campuses from Semester 1, 2013. The vision for this subject as a common first-year core is to be aligned with the University's Future Ready learning and teaching goals. Specifically, by focusing on enhancing the student experience through delivery in blended-mode, improving student success and retention, and improving student satisfaction.

Within this context, the key features of the subject design and its contribution lie in the following key areas:

  • Fostering a collaborative learning environment
  • Subject delivery in blended-mode
  • A student-centred approach to subject delivery
  • Multi-disciplinary content
  • Embedding the La Trobe Essential 'Global Citizenship'

Transforming undergraduate information literacy education through the development of a coherent learning and teaching model that is adaptable and responsive to curriculum design across disciplines
By Fiona Salisbury, Sharon Karasmanis & Jenny Corbin (Library)

Bringing information literacy education to large cohorts of students requires a sustainable, scalable and equitable approach to embedding this capability into the curriculum. 

This presentation will examine a large scale research study that aimed to close the gap between evidence and practice for undergraduate information literacy education. The study involved a series of linked sequential projects that collected evidence of student learning and experience. A mixed methods approach was employed which included longitudinal tracking using a validated survey instrument of a specific cohort of undergraduate students in the Faculty of Health Sciences from 2009-2012; usability testing of flexible online learning resources and diagnostic tools 2009-2013; multiple-choice test item analysis (reliability/discrimination/difficulty) in order to assess validity of questions for use in diagnostic tools; and structured interviews with academic staff.

The results demonstrated that students arrive at University with existing skills, but limited understanding of scholarly resources; however with progressive scaffolding in place, students do indeed build this knowledge by fourth year. The evidence also provided further understanding of student information seeking behaviour and prior knowledge. Ongoing collaboration between librarians and academic teaching staff at the subject design level was enhanced by having evidence that demonstrated what and how students learn about information literacy. Intentionally bringing together evidence and practice has not only resulted in measurable student success, but new ways of working that are evidence based. The consistent level of faculty interest and engagement in this evidence-based approach to practice, has kept it relevant and dynamic, and enabled a broad foundation for undergraduate information literacy education within the curriculum at La Trobe University.

Friday 28 August 2015: Special forum - Academic integrity and dealing with academic misconduct

Dr Judith Gullifer, Charles Sturt University
Associate Professor Julianne East, La Trobe University

In this presentation, Dr Judith Gullifer from Charles Sturt University will present her research on students' perceptions of plagiarism and the implications for policy, and Dr Julianne East will present La Trobe's systematic approach to academic integrity.

About the Speaker

Judith Gullifer is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Psychology at Charles Sturt University, and is currently Sub-Dean of Teaching Excellence in the Faculty of Arts. Judith has coordinated a range of undergraduate and postgraduate psychology subjects and has been involved in supervising undergraduate and postgraduate students' research. She is a registered psychologist with a background in professional counselling in rural and remote Australia. She is highly committed to the development of the discipline and profession of Psychology. She holds various national positions with the Australian Psychological Society, currently serving on the Regional, Rural and Remote Advisory Group to the National Board and convenor of the Rural and Remote Interest Group. Judith completed her PhD investigating students' perceptions of plagiarism at Charles Sturt University.

Her interest in investigating academic integrity grew from her commitment to scholarship in teaching. Judith also has a strong research commitment to perceptions of ageing and has published in this area. Judith currently represents Charles Sturt University on the NSW/ACT Performance Excellence Network, a funded project by the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching. Judith has been the recipient of the Charles Sturt University Vice Chancellors Award in Teaching Excellence and the Australian Psychological Society's Early Career Teaching Award.

Thursday 27 August 2015: Learning in the Digital Age seminar


Connecting with students online for learning: Social, cognitive and teacher presence

Dr Narelle Lemon

Teaching and learning online requires much consideration. During an OLT Seed grant that looked at providing an online learning resource <> for early childhood teacher educators and pre-service teachers to gain knowledge and experience for the education and care of very young children, further questioning was sparked. How can we engage students to participate in online discussions? This lead to the design of an online subject for primary teacher education utilising social media platforms (blog, Twitter and Pinterest) to understand further how social, cognitive and teacher presence influences learning.

This presentation will share the OLT outcomes involving 450 pre-service teachers and across the four institutions and further application to online learning in a subject that involves a partnership with the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Museum and the Immigration Museum.

Establishing community engagement opportunities for occupational therapy students to broaden horizons

Dr Carol McKinstry

Health professionals need to be able to work effectively with people with a range of health and psycho-social conditions, from diverse social backgrounds. Although students gain experience through work-integrated learning in later years, they crave authentic experiences earlier in their course.

In this session, an overview of service-learning embedded within a second year subject will be presented, outlining the benefits for students and the host secondary schools. Strategies to maintain relationships with community agencies and the promotion of cultural awareness and transformative learning for students will be discussed.

Tuesday 26 May 2015: Learning in the Digital Age seminar

The Essentials Showcase


  • Dr Melody Carter, Associate Professor, School of Nursing and Midwifery
  • Dr Benjamin Habib,  Lecturer in International Relations
  • Mark Civitella, Lecturer in Public Relations

In this session, three La Trobe staff members demonstrate how they have integrated The Essentials — Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Global Citizenship, Sustainability Thinking — into their subjects and courses. This an event to showcase The Essentials, and also to find out how they can enrich our students' learning experience. 

The La Trobe Essentials are three vital areas of learning which are designed to develop students' capacity to address our most pressing global challenges. Subjects addressing each of The Essentials are currently being identified or developed to ensure that every La Trobe student has the opportunity to get new perspectives on their chosen discipline.

Tuesday 12 May 2015: Learning in the Digital Age seminar


Video production quality and student learning experiences: Using low-cost video lectures to engage students
Presented by Dr John Bevacqua

You can view John's powerpoint slides [PPT 747KB] from the presentation or read his handout on Blended learning and video quality [DOCX 102KB].

Business or science students often struggle with the unfamiliarity and complexity of the Law. It is difficult for many of these students to engage with the subject matter, to appreciate its relevance to them and to perform well. John discusses the preliminary results from replacing face-to-face lectures with a series of simply-produced, low-cost video lectures to teach legal principles to non-law students. These results show improved student outcomes and satisfaction since the introduction of the video lectures. On the basis of these results, John argues that material improvements in student satisfaction and performance can be achieved through the use of videos, even when those videos fall far short of professional video production standards. Further, he suggests that there may only be a very weak correlation between video production standards and student satisfaction and learning outcomes.

The application of simulation for experiential classroom learning
Presented by Dr Andrew Hahne, Ms. Sally Sheppard, Dr Felicity Blackstock

Simulation-based learning seeks to replicate real-life experiences in an educational setting. It is being increasingly applied in the clinical training of health professionals, where it provides students with real-world clinical experiences without compromising patient care or safety. In this seminar, we will discuss the use of simulated learning in the form of a simulated professional conference for final-year physiotherapy students. This three-day event was modelled on research conferences, complete with invited keynote speakers, student presentations in concurrent sessions, and sponsors. We will then lead a discussion to challenge other disciplines to consider how simulation could be incorporated into curricula to maximise the authentic learning experience for all students.

Thursday 30 April 2015: Learning in the Digital Age seminar


A program in nutrition and dietetics which inspires students to become self-reflective, indepedent, life-long learners
Presented by Dr Regina Belski, Senior Lecturer and Researcher, Dietetics and Human Nutrition
Recipient of La Trobe University and OLT Citations for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning 2014

As educators we aspire to motivate and inspire our students not only to successfully complete their studies but also to become self-reflective, independent, life-long learners. As it is these skills that will serve them through their professional careers and life.

The main aim of this seminar was to discuss practical strategies that educators can adopt to successfully engage their students in learning in a way that builds up these critical skills. How do we best approach teaching students in the "Google Era" where it may appear that an answer or a solution is only a click away?

Numerous examples of successful strategies utilised by Dr Belski with her students, as well as additional examples from other inspirational educators were discussed. It is hoped that participants in this workshop left with a number of ideas and strategies that they can adapt/trial in their classrooms.

Thursday 26 March 2015: Learning in the Digital Age seminar


Tools for Teaching: Thinking about Educational Design
Presented by Matt Carter, LTLT

Teaching – like most areas of human endeavour – has always involved the use of tools. Designing effective and high quality blended and online learning experiences is fundamentally about selecting the appropriate set of tools to fit the work, setting those tools up properly to suit the work, and using the correct technique in the execution of the work.

Through reflection on the nature of tools and their use, this presentation aimed to develop a framework to guide thinking about the use of tools in teaching, and derived some principles for the selection, setup and execution of the tools we use in teaching.

'Salsa and Societies': Revolutionary Methods of Teaching, Learning and Researching Latin American history using Music and Food
Presented by Dr Ralph Newmark
Recipient of the Vice Chancellors Award for Teaching Excellence 2014

In this seminar Dr Ralph Newmark demonstrated some aspects of his innovative teaching and learning methodologies by analysing the Platt Amendment. This document was forcibly inserted by the U.S. in Cuba's independence constitution of 1901-02. The session firstly contextualised Cuban history through music and then challenge the audience to react to the document in terms of another country, much more familiar to them, which also gained its independence in 1901. In essence, the exercise was designed to help ​answer the questions: Why was Cuba the only part of Spanish America not to break away from Spain in the early 19th Century and why was Cuba the only nation in Latin America to have a sustained socialist revolution?

You may like to read the handout from Ralph's presentation: Platt Amendment 1901.

Thursday 26 February 2015: Learning in the Digital Age seminar


Developing ancient world studies that incorporate innovative resources and assessment as well as cutting-edge m-learning tools
Presented by Sarah Midford & Dr Rhiannon Evans
Recipients of an LTU citation for teaching 2014

Tuesday 25 November 2014: Learning in the Digital Age seminar


How is resilience reflected in the lives of academic staff?
Presented by Kay Salehi, La Trobe Learning and Teaching

Resilience studies suggest that when faced with continuous change, individuals and communities need to have; a consultative leadership, sense of community, mission and reasons for change, and a sense of control and autonomy in their professional lives if they are to be able to effectively adapt to change. This presentation is reporting on a qualitative research study completed in 2006 as part of a Masters in Education, that was exploring how resilience was reflected in the working lives of business academics at that university. The study uses a framework devised from the work of Coutu, D. (2002) and Welck, K. (1993) to create a new framework drawing out themes around the dimension of change in terms of: role/identity; leadership; support; mission; collegial relationships; and a sense of meaning.

Thursday 20 November 2014: Special SoLT seminar on Digital Learning

This seminar is a preview of the papers to be presented by the LTU representatives at the upcoming Ascilite Conference 2014. See the conference program.


Thinking through a deconstructionist philosophy of technology in education, part 1: Originary technicity and the invention of the student body
Stephen Abblitt, LTLT

This paper takes the ubiquity of personal mobile technologies today as a provocation to propose a fundamentally new understanding of the relations between knowledge, student bodies and educational technologies. It draws on recent deconstructionist philosophies of technology (principally Stiegler and Derrida) and the concept of "originary technicity" to theorise the relation between the human and the technical as not only mutually constitutive, but also ontologically undecidable. The case is especially so given the spatial and temporal connectivity and flexibility enabled by mobile technologies, the new economy of attention they facilitate, and the motile biological, technological, socio-material and semiotic intersections now endlessly working to produce the student body (individual and collective) in the digital university.

The place of theory in educational technology research
John Hannon & Rheem Al-Mahmood, LTLT

Research into educational technologies tends to focus on applied phenomena, with the consequence that theoretical concerns can be implicit or invisible. We identify an impatience with theory that is reflected in calls for "pragmatic" approaches, and ask how critical theory is in educational technology research. We contend that notions of theory drawn from naturalistic sciences that inform learning design give rise to a theory/practice distinction in which theoretical concerns are subsumed under practical goals, constraining the potential for rich conceptualisations and explanations. We make the case that theory matters in two senses: it has institutional and pedagogical implications for educational outcomes, and it is integral to the practices associated with educational technologies. Further, we claim that the material arrangements in educational technologies are often overlooked, and propose alternatives to this dualistic separation towards a relational theory-practice-researcher nexus.

Snapshot: Developing a tool for authentic open assessment to support student success
Donna Bisset, LTLT

Snapshot online journal is open education resource (OER) to showcase student assessment and provide a vehicle for academic staff in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at La Trobe University to rethink their assessment into authentic and interactive practice. The journal, hosted via the University library on Open Journal Systems showcases a variety of undergraduate students assessment. Issues of the journal focus on themes across a number of subjects or assessment from an individual subject. Wiley notes that 'adopting open educational practices will help improve student choices, experience, retention and completion, as well as the likelihood of return to study' (Wiley 2013, quoted in OEWG 2013). The journal supports open education practice principles via open access for students of different levels, capabilities and backgrounds, not just high achieving students to submit work for publication, publication of a resource freely available for anybody to read and reuse under a creative commons license, the use of open source software to promote learning.

Open online courses and massively untold stories
Leigh Blackall

This paper accounts for a small range of open online courses that helped to inform the early development of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). It laments the loss of meaning in the word open and its historic alignment to free and open source principles. It calls for more academic work to better represent the histories and range of critical perspectives on open online courses, and outlines how Wikipedia can be used as a central organising platform for such work.

Thursday 16 October 2014: SoLT seminar


Is disciplinary history important in understanding the threshold concepts in a discipline? Perspectives from health sciences
Presented by Dr Tracy Fortune

According to Meyer and Land (2003) threshold concepts are bounded: unfamiliar propositions that will explain part of the discipline. Threshold concepts are also quite troublesome, arising from the fact that the concepts comprise ritual, inert, conceptually difficult, foreign and tacit knowledge (Perkins, 2006). These sorts of knowledge present barriers to full understanding and transformation. Crossing the threshold should effect a lasting conceptual change in a learner. Such change involves the ability to "construct discipline specific narratives and arguments transformed through acquisition of organising ideas" (Davies, 2006, p. 5). Can an historic literacy of one's own discipline/profession assist this?

The health discipline of occupational therapy provides an example in which learners' contemporary struggles in relation to particular ideas may be evident in developments throughout the history of the profession. Founded formally in the first decade of the 1900s, the profession had its genesis in the mental asylums of the 1800s, where participation in the daily rounds of life in hospital kitchens, gardens, washrooms, and later in other recreational and creative occupations was seen to reduce disturbed behaviour among patients, enabling them to realise their human potential. Participation in these daily occupations provided opportunities to utilise time, energy, and capabilities to be creative. An 'occupational perspective' of heath has been described as the primary threshold concept for occupational therapy (Fortune & Kennedy-Jones, In Press). While this perspective is espoused today, it is not widely enacted. By the time of WW2, this occupational perspective had been largely replaced by more reductionist thinking, in which doing 'activity' was 'prescribed' as a way of building discreet performance capacities, such as muscle strength or endurance. In essence, the profession traded holism for reductionism, in an effort to grow and to be perceived as scientifically credible.

Fortune & Kennedy-Jones, and others have proposed that educators continue to struggle to promote to students and to other health professionals the pivotal threshold 'ah ha' appreciation of occupation and its power to enable health at this broader, non-mechanistic level. If a student fails to appreciate and enact an occupational perspective, reductionist conceptions may remain and this is problematic in an already misunderstood profession. Can understanding one's disciplinary history help learners make sense of threshold concepts such as an occupational perspective of health?

This seminar will prompt participants' to consider similar scenarios in their own discipline, as guided by the following questions:

  • Is there a link between a discipline's historical beginnings and possible/ potential threshold concept/s?
  • Would an appreciation of the historical beginnings in a discipline trigger transformation in learners, and if so how?
  • If history is important, what does this mean for developing the curriculum? 

Fortune, T. & Kennedy-Jones, M. (2014) Occupation and its relationship with health and wellbeing:
The threshold concept for occupational therapy, Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, (Early View) doi: 10.1111/1440-1630.12144

Thursday 9 October 2014: SoLT seminar


Getting "short changed": A brief history of student-staff interactions in Australian higher education with a particular focus on academic advising
 Presented by Dr Bret Stephenson, Curriculum Designer (Student Success), La Trobe Learning and Teaching

As Hunter and White (2004) have observed: "Academic advising, well developed and appropriately accessed, is perhaps the only structured campus endeavor that can guarantee students interaction with a caring and concerned adult who can help them shape a (meaningful learning) experience" (p. 21). While universities in both the UK and the USA frequently maintain long standing traditions of 'academic advising' (USA), or 'personal tutoring' (UK) – both formalized systems for providing academic advice and formative mentoring to undergraduate students, often with the involvement of academic staff – it remains curious that similar formalized and long running traditions are largely absent in Australian universities.

In a related matter, it is also notable that the Australian university system, from its foundation in the mid 19th century and extending up to the present day, has frequently been criticized for failing to support meaningful interactions between students and academic staff. In fact, several recent international comparisons have shown that Australian students have far fewer interactions with academic staff than their counterparts in the US and UK (Richardson, 2011; Radloff & Coates, 2010; Lomax-Smith, Watson & Webster, 2011). This has led to claims that Australian students are "getting a raw deal" (Rowe, 1960) and being "short-changed" (Richardson, 2011) by a system that is fundamentally impersonal and aloof to the learning needs of its students.

In this SoLT seminar I attempt to trace the history of this particular characteristic of Australian universities, with a special note on the role played by La Trobe in its early years, while offering some hope for its remedy in the present. This seminar should be of interest to both professional and academic staff, and anyone involved in the support of student learning and development.