La Trobe wins Higher Education Award

A high-tech recording studio that makes online lectures a must-see for students has been recognised in the Australian Financial Review’s Higher Education Awards.

The Lightboard Studio at La Trobe University’s Bendigo campus won the “Education Technology” category in this year’s awards.

The studio enables lecturers to produce engaging, broadcast-quality classes for students learning remotely.

Standing behind an illuminated glass screen or ‘lightboard’, lecturers can seemingly write mid-air with neon markers, and project dynamic graphics, including PowerPoint presentations.

Studio developer and senior physics lecturer at La Trobe University, Dr Russell Anderson (pictured), said the studio offers a highly personal and engaging mode of delivery for students learning online.

“As lecturers, we’re not standing in front of a whiteboard or computer screen with our backs to the camera; we’re facing the students the whole time,” Dr Anderson said.

“Students are giving us really positive feedback – that it’s fun to watch and helps them grasp concepts more easily. So it’s really enhancing their online learning experience.”

Dr Anderson said the studio was developed in collaboration with Monash University, and although not in response to COVID-19, the timing could not have been better with the shift to remote learning.

Another La Trobe project, the Freely Accessible Remote Laboratories (FARLabs), developed by senior physics lecturer David Hoxley, was shortlisted for the awards, in the “Learning Experience” category.

Aiming to bridge the gap between secondary and tertiary science education, FARLabs allows users anywhere in the world to conduct real physics experiments remotely.

Students use a web browser to activate robots that control the laboratory equipment, producing data for further analysis.

La Trobe Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education) Professor Nicki Lee said the two shortlisted projects are testament to the depth of passion La Trobe academics have for improving the student experience.

“Whatever the course, or mode of delivery, it’s vital to our teaching staff that students feel engaged, connected and eager to learn,” Professor Lee said.

“These are two brilliant examples of how innovation and cutting-edge technology can improve, not just how well a student performs in their course, but their whole experience of university.”

The AFR Higher Education Awards is a special yearly event dedicated to recognising the remarkable contributions that tertiary institutions have made to the Australian community over the year.

Media Contact | Kate O’Connor, 0436 189 629, k.o’