Technology refreshes learning experience

A La Trobe University subject using modern technology to reinvigorate student interest in ancient Rome is one of three unique learning experiences to be recognised for its innovation.

The team behind the first year subject, ‘The Roman World’, are among several La Trobe staff to today be recognised for their modern and novel approaches to teaching under the Federal Government’s Citations for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning (COCSL), which reward the substantial contributions made to the quality of student learning. La Trobe Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Jane Long said the awards are a recognition of La Trobe’s commitment to innovative learning.

“At La Trobe we are constantly looking for ways to improve how we teach and support our students,” Professor Long said.

“These awards highlight the role technology has to play in enhancing student learning, as well as the value of learning through experience.”

Three La Trobe nominations were selected for awards at a ceremony in Melbourne this afternoon.

The Roman world

La Trobe’s Ancient Mediterranean Studies Digital Humanities Team (Dr Sarah Midford and Dr Rhiannon Evans) was awarded for its work to make the ancient world more accessible and meaningful to students. Dr Midford and Dr Evans sought to make the subject more mainstream and breakdown perceptions that Latin and Ancient Greek language were necessary to study Classics at an undergraduate level.

Students are introduced to the cultural history of ancient Rome through television shows and films, and academic resources are in easy reach through podcasts, ebooks and vodcasts. It’s also one of the most popular courses accessed through iTunes U platform – over two million people now access the subject through the platform and in 2013 Dr Evans was named one of the top 20 instructors in the world on iTunes.

Immersing students in the arts

Dr Sue Gillett has been recognised for her work to reinvigorate student interest in the arts in regional Victoria. Feedback from regional students who felt they received a second-hand experience when arts subjects are delivered via video-conferencing from metropolitan campuses prompted Dr Gillett to develop a new curriculum through the subjects Exhibiting Culture and Writers in Action.

In the flexible curriculum, learning is embedded through regional art festivals and events. For example, students take part in regional writers festivals in Albury, Mildura, Shepparton and Bendigo, writing reviews and conducting interviews with artists and organisers. The subject is now so popular, city students are making the regional commute to take part.

Digital lens on Orthoptics

Dr Suzane Vassallo has been acknowledged for her work in helping those studying to care for patients with eye disorders.

Dr Vassallo noticed undergraduate students struggling to engage with a core subject of the course, which is closely aligned with physics. As a result, she redesigned the curriculum to explain challenging concepts through the introduction of real world scenarios, video and other creative e-resources. Students can also learn how to measure and record different types of prescription lenses through an online educational simulation.

Photo Boris Bo, Flickr

Media contact Briena Barrett: 0432 566 014