SoLT seminar program
Semester 2, 2013
All sessions will be held between 1.00-2.00pm in HUED108 (Melbourne campus), with video-conference to campuses indicated below.
Session 1: Tuesday 13 August
Bad Science: Exploring the biases and phenomena that lead good people to make poor health choices
Dr Megan Davidson and Dr Jodie McClelland, Faculty of Health Sciences
This subject is designed to give first year students a flexible on-line elective choice and to equip them with an understanding of how cognitive errors (such as post hoc ergo propter hoc) and certain phenomena (such as regression to the mean) can mislead and contribute to poor health choices. Structured week-by-week team activities and quizzes with learning material that is entirely accessible online build understanding of key concepts through three enquires: The Amazing Product explores why dubious products with outlandish claims can nevertheless be lucrative. Implausible Treatments introduces students to the features of a ‘fair test’ of a treatment and What are the Chances? explores how perceived risk influences health-related decisions. Using “assessment for learning” principles, students are provided with feedback on an early draft of their assignment evaluating a health product or treatment.
The workshop will provide an opportunity for discussion and sharing on strategies to engage students in asynchronous learning activities, facilitate student contributions to team discussions, and strategies and appropriate boundaries for student engagement in broader social media activities (such as blogs, videos and twitter).
Video-conference: HHS201 (Bendigo), 4245 (Albury-Wodonga).
Session 2: Tuesday 10 September
(Dis)Engaging Spaces: Exploring Spatiality and Identity e-Learning Practices in Higher Education
Dr Reem Al-Mahmood, Academic Language and Learning Unit/ Faculty of Science, Technology & Engineering, Curriculum Learning & Teaching Centre
As universities shift their physical and digital learning and teaching spaces, inevitably learners and lecturers (dis)engage in new spatial encounters. Spaces/places become more complicated and complex due to their multiple and infinite physical and digital intersections. How are we to think about the relationships between the pedagogical learning spaces of online and offline spaces? And how can we start to describe the relationship between theses spaces? How the affordances, appropriations and implications of these emergent spaces/places are understood, researched, and analysed require new conceptualisations and methods. We need to (re)think space – physical and digital. We need “to liberate ‘space’ from some chains of meaning (which embed it with closure and statis,…) which have all but chocked it to death, in order to set it … (…alongside openness, and heterogeneity, and liveliness) where it can have a new and more productive life” (Massey, 2005, p. 19, emphasis in original).
By drawing on concepts from geography, architecture, educational philosophy, and material semiotics, through vignette snapshots as part of a larger ethnographic study within an Australian university, this study explores the intersections of spatiality, learning and identity across various locales. Some emergent (dis)engagements, tensions, appropriations and affordances are discussed with/against (neo)liberal agendas of the (dis)embodied individual. For although there are radical opportunities afforded by e-learning technologies (Hemmi, Bayne & Land, 2009), digital Learning Management Systems (LMSs) can be risky and “disorienting spaces” for some (Bayne & Ross, 2007) and exciting ones for others, albeit that underpinning their pedagogical designs should be a “learning-centric university mission” (Ellis & Goodyear, 2010, p. 153). The emergent conceptual and research-based insights of this study can inform the work of (transdisciplinary) researchers, educational designers, online educators, and educational philosophers towards new ‘spatial imaginaries’ and “cartographical imaginings” (Edwards & Clarke, 2002, p.168) to rethink ‘space’ as complex, relational, hybrid, and emergent.
Video-conference: Venue TBC
Session 3: Tuesday 15 October
Re-considering the Research-Teaching-Learning Nexus
Dr Adrian Jones
Have we lost sight of what Humboldt’s nexus really involves? An outrageous idealist, Adrian Jones will re-examine dimensions of this classic issue: promises unfulfilled, potential as yet unrealised. We live in an age of educational instrumentalism. Outcomes and Standards purport to describe, but seldom influence, how students are actually set up to learn. The instrumentalism leaves university marketers to peddle the same dross, while edu-illusionists pretend better “delivery” systems will resolve everything. Let’s try to shift the focus away from what academics declare to what students are set up to do.
Video-conference: Venue TBC
Session 4: Tuesday 12 November
Flipping an anthropology unit
Dr Nic Herriman
In this presentation, I discuss my use of simple technology to entirely ‘flip’ the learning in an anthropology unit I co-ordinate, Anthropology of Witch-hunts. Students listen to lectures, do readings, and complete quizzes before class. In class students answer questions, discuss problems, and work on tasks. Compared to units I have taught previously, this way of teaching the unit creates more:
- “Doing”. Students spend time in class writing and discussing anthropology, with my ‘supervision’, rather than listening to me.
- “Thinking and Practicing”. Each discipline has a unique way of thinking about the world and a unique practice that is associated with it. While the topic of ANT2/3AWH is witch-hunts, this topic serves as the vehicle through which the students learn to think and practice, write and talk like anthropologists.
- Sense of cohort. Students work in groups together each week. This develops connections with other students, which is an important factor in success at university.
- Alignment. With many small assessments, I can assess what I want students to know and do.
- Tracking. From the outset in the course students regularly get a lot of feedback. Students can thus ‘track’ their progress.
- Efficiency: Teaching the unit becomes progressively easier and less demanding on time.
- Sustainability: Although the knowledge is quite specialised, it passes ‘the tram test’—I have prepared sufficient resources such that if I was killed by a tram, a colleague could walk in and teach it tomorrow.
- Popularity: Student enrolments grew from 53 (2011) to 151 (2013), with “Overall” ratings above 4 out of 5. These results could be attributed to other factors (e.g. reduced subject offerings in Anthropology, the ‘sexiness’ of the topic). Furthermore, high feedback ratings are not necessarily an indication that students have engaged in deep learning. From a personal perspective though, strong enrolments and feedback mean less pressure on me.
Session 5: Tuesday 26 November
The future of academic publishing
Academia and academic publishing operate as two parts of an ecosystem. As in any ecosystem, they are dependent on each other: academics 'publish or perish', academic content is the essential element in the publishing process. But given that academia is publicly funded and publishing is a profit-making venture increasingly exposed to shareholder expectation, this dependent relationship is an uneasy one for many academics. Academia and academic publishing are driven by very different motivations.
Academics must balance competing priorities in the university system; the need to provide quality materials for their students and the need to reduce their impact on faculty budgets. Taking these elements into negotiations with publishers who are engaging in increasingly aggressive sales tactics creates a volatile environment. It is important for academics and faculty staff to be fully aware of their obligations under university rules and education sector legislation.
Ruth Jelley has been researching open education practices with the Faculty of Business, Economics and Law Teaching and Learning team since late 2012.
Ruth Jelley holds a Master of Communication in Book Publishing from RMIT, and will discuss the current academic publishing environment and comment on recent worrying trends in both journal and book publishing sectors.
Session 6: Tuesday 10 December
Peeling the Sustainability Education Onion: Multiple Layers, Watery Eyes, Healthy Aspirations
Dr Colin Hocking
Want to be challenged by some ‘out there’ thinking around sustainability education? The La Trobe Sustainability Thinking Essential prompts the questions: what do we mean by ‘sustainability’. What do we mean by ‘education’? What is sustainability education for? What might Universities be able to contribute?
The curriculum and research literature on Education for Sustainability (EfS) is starting to reveal multiple layers of responses to these questions, and these have implications for what and how we approach learning and teaching for sustainability. These are the layers I want to explore through our conversation and discussion: (1) EfS within a business-as-usual framework; (2) EfS that explores the decoupling of material growth from well-being; and (3) EfS that frames sustainability through the lens of complex systems thinking. According to the last of these three, we don’t know what sustainable living will look like, and wont be able to fully comprehend all of the interactions that allow and prevent more sustainable responses, so how can we make headway through this approach, with the outcomes as yet only dimly perceived?
In particular I want to consider: what are the implications for learning and teaching of each of these approaches? What might learning and teaching look like for each approach to sustainability? Can they be blended or compared? Join me as we share a journey through the layers and multiple meanings that sustainability education can generate, and consider what this might mean for your engagement with the Sustainable Thinking Essential at La Trobe.
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