Dr Caroline Walta
Course coordinator of La Trobe’s Graduate Diploma in Education (Middle Years)
As course coordinator of La Trobe’s Graduate Diploma in Education (Middle Years), Dr Caroline Walta teaches local Shepparton students as well as some living as far away as Queensland. The course is delivered primarily online, with on-campus workshops alongside teaching observation and work experience based in students’ local communities.
The Graduate Diploma is supported by research that shows a distinct drop in student engagement between Years 5 and 10. These students want to see purpose and context for what they are learning, so this is what La Trobe’s future teachers focus on. ‘Teaching is about supporting learning, and teachers are really there to select the context in which students learn,’ Caroline explains.
Caroline says that while many of her students are from interstate, she also teaches people living in Melbourne and regional Victoria who want to study with the flexibility an online learning environment provides. Along with online lectures and tutorials at set times, the Graduate Diploma involves online reading and writing assignments that students can access at times that suit their lifestyle. These activities are overseen by a group mentor, who makes sure each student stays involved. This mentor can also visit students within their local communities. ‘Students in this program are very much connected,’ Caroline emphasises.
Caroline adds that she is regularly surprised at how collaborative and dynamic the course’s online classes are, and how much support students give each other over the web, sharing their experiences, resources and ideas for teaching. Student numbers are growing each year, and the course consistently receives very high ratings for student satisfaction.
For her efforts coordinating the course, Caroline has been recognised with a 2011 Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, along with the 2010 Pearson Australia Teacher Educator of the Year Award.