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  • Shirley Alexander: So, in a way Iím going to be talking about a localised response to

  • what we think is the future. And, in an earlier tweet, Yousef [inaudible] said ëWho's the

  • fortune teller here todayAnd probably in a way that's been a job that I have been

  • trying to fulfil for the last couple of years. So, Iím just going to talk through some of

  • the thinking behind a lot of the activities that have been going on at UTS.

  • Now, Gilly mentioned the enormous interest and activity going on around the world in

  • terms of MOOCs, and this is a very nice summary I think, of where things are at the moment.

  • And, I talk about this often and there was a time about a year ago, when I could use

  • the same slides for a few weeks or a few months, but at the moment I have to change my slides

  • every day because there's always something new happening.

  • So, you can see here the three big MOOCs ñ Coursera, Udacity and edX, and very well-known

  • Khan Academy. But what this illustrates very well I think, is the enormous, not only interest

  • in MOOCs, but the enormous amounts of funding that are being thrown into these developments.

  • If you look up here, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are pouring money into edX,

  • into the Khan Academy and so on. So, it's a very interesting diagram. Google has been

  • giving money to the Khan Academy, the University of Pennsylvania Caltech, and there are some

  • institutions in America such as San Jose University that are now asking their students to take

  • some of the MOOCs from Udacity and then count them as credit towards their degree, because

  • they can't arm supply education at the level that people are wanting it.

  • So, itís a real tipping point going on in this particular area, and politicians of course

  • are also extremely interested in this as a way of saving money. They won't say that,

  • but to a politician free online education looks like a windfall. And weíve heard that

  • the government is trying to find $12 billion in lost tax revenue. Tony Abbott has appointed

  • Alan Tudge to chair the committee to advise him on how Australia can take advantage of

  • what's happening in the online world. So, it's a very, very critical time to higher

  • education and really important that weíre having this discussion today.

  • So, as you know, UTS is in the middle of spending $1 billion on its campus redevelopment, right

  • at a time when there is enormous interest in online education. But to me a lot of the

  • discussion so far has been what you might call ëprovider captureí. Itís been about

  • what we can produce, and not enough about what students think about that. So, in order

  • to be a fortune teller, one of the things thatís really important in my role is to

  • listen to what students say, and there is no one student voice. However, having read

  • students feedback in a whole range of surveys in the course experience questionnaire, the

  • student satisfaction survey, and listen to students when they talk to me, these are the

  • kinds of things that they say. They say that they want really engaging, interactive face-to-face

  • classes, and they also want podcasts of them. They want more face-to-face time with academics.

  • They want more feedback and they want faster turnaround. When there are casual academics

  • employed to teach their tutorials, they want them to be paid more so they can go to all

  • the lectures. They want faster turnaround on email and questions as opposed on UTS online.

  • And they want more office hours. So, Iíve yet to read any more than about one or two

  • students asking for completely online education, and yet if you read everything thatís been

  • written about MOOCs, you would think that there was a great demand for it. So, it's

  • really, we can produce this, but our big question is really, ëWhat do students wantThe

  • challenge is that to implement what we do now, plus technology versions of it, would

  • cost enormous dollars that we just don't have. So, we have to make some hard decisions about

  • how we fulfil studentsí needs and ensure that they learn what it is that we want them

  • to learn. So, what is our approach to teaching and learning, and it's absolutely based on

  • the UTS model of learning which was rolled out quite a few years ago, that really basing

  • what we are doing on learning itself. So, there are three, in case you missed this,

  • when the awkward panel was about to come.

  • The UTS model is based on practice oriented education, to equip them for professional

  • practice in a global workplace, and learning that is research inspired. So, the kinds of

  • ways in which we can expose students to professional practice range from work based learning, internships,

  • practicums, volunteer activities, field trips, simulations, and so on. And so, that's what

  • we've been basing all our thinking on.

  • As you know, we're building a number of buildings, two of which are the Engineering and IT building

  • and the Dr Chau Chak Wing building. And this presented an unprecedented opportunity to

  • redesign learning through the redesign of learning spaces. And, weíre going to be moving

  • into those two new buildings next year, and therefore we've had a project called ëLearning

  • 2014í, to ensure that we are changing around our approach to learning, in time to fit into

  • those new buildings in the way in which they were designed.

  • So, Gilly, in one of her early slides, had a continuum. On one side of the continuum

  • was completely face-to-face. On the other side was completely online - and we are in

  • the middle. So, weíre adopting an approach to learning, which is the seamless integration

  • of online and face-to-face. But the big question is, ëHow do we actually choose the best mix

  • of online and face-to-faceNow, Paul started out today talking about whether this was a

  • farewell to learning, but I would like to call this the ëLearning Springí, because

  • what I'm hoping that we can do is rather than talking about how we teach, is to really get

  • the conversation back to the how students actually learn. ëWhat do students need to

  • do in order to learnand then base our decisions on the kinds of tools and technologies

  • and strategies, based on what it is that students need to do in order to learn. And thatís

  • what it actually looks like, but I want to unpack it and go back to back to the beginning

  • of what students need to do in order to learn - so bring the conversation back to learning.

  • So, here we have a student with particular learning goals, which is usually to get their

  • degree. But the first thing they need to do in order to learn is to get access to ideas

  • and the content of learning. And, so what might that look like in an integrated, face-to-face,

  • and online world? Well, students might come onto campus, they might be lucky enough to

  • have a class in the tower, or they might be in the new Chau Chak Wing building, or the

  • new Engineering and IT building, and they might also go to our physical library. They

  • might go to a class ñ a small class or a large class. But they will also be using a

  • combination of iTunes, YouTube, Ted-Ed videos and open education resources, in order to

  • access that content. That of itself is not enough for high-quality learning to occur.

  • Students also need opportunities to make sense of the ideas that theyíve accessed, test

  • out their ideas, and often that happens through performing some kind of action. So, what that

  • might be is having a conversation with a mentor in industry. It might be doing an experiment

  • in a laboratory, in other faculties that might be building a model ñ itís actually doing

  • something with the content. And it might be having work placement in industry, and it

  • might also be travelling, either hopefully overseas. That's a suitcase there [with a

  • global?] on it in case you don't recognise it. But, action without feedback is not a

  • very satisfactory learning experience. So, students need opportunities to gain feedback

  • on what their current thinking is, and that can happen via groups, which are either face-to-face

  • or online. It can happen with just a conversation with a tutor. It can happen on Facebook, and

  • it can happen on Twitter.

  • And then finally, students need to reflect on what they're in what theyíre initial thoughts

  • were, what they did, what the feedback was, and how all of that has changed their current

  • thinking about a particular area. So, they can do that by just sitting alone and contemplating.

  • It can happen via, from writing a blog, which is a reflective piece. It can happen by using

  • other computer tools, and it can happen in group work reflection on group activities.

  • So, that's the whole range of learning experiences that students might have, but again the choice

  • of whether it's a face-to-face experience or something that happens online, is purely

  • based on what it is that they need to do in order to learn. And Gilly mentioned the idea

  • that academics job is not necessarily to stand up and teach ñ that's a part of it, but probably

  • the most important role of an academic in the future is going to be the design of these

  • kinds of experiences. So, have we taken these ideas in the design of the interiors of the

  • new buildings. Much of the focus has been on the exterior of the building, but I've

  • been really involved in the design of the interiors of the building. So, we want to

  • take advantage of learning experiences like ëflipped learningí, and this is one of the

  • large collaborative theatres that are being rolled out. They can be used to give a lecture,

  • but they can also be used to get students into small groups within that large class,

  • so they do something to make sense of what it is that they've heard - so that's the ëflipped

  • learningí component. Our Faculty of Engineering is already doing quite a lot in terms of remote

  • laboratories, where students are able to log on and conduct an experiment online and see

  • the results. Our Faculty of Health is making wonderful use of quite high-tech mannequins

  • so that students can engage in simulations, so they try out particular patient care and

  • they see the outcomes. So, there's the action and the feedback all facilitated through technology.

  • And, weíve had enormous success with peer learning. So, those of you, and I know Georgina

  • is here today, our U:Pass is being rolled out across the University, and the grades

  • of the students who attend those is much higher than those who donít, and the failure rate

  • is reduced.

  • So, that we know that students working in teams is a very good learning outcome, and

  • because of that we've put enormous effort into designing rooms and spaces just for students

  • to undertake group work. And, it's interesting that we were alerted to the need to do this,

  • and provide more opportunities for that group work from the student satisfaction survey

  • in 2007, where students highlighted areas to do group work as being very high on importance,

  • but very low on performance. And Iím pleased to say that as a result of all the work was

  • done for the last couple of years, it still rated as high in importance, but it is now

  • rated as high on performance - so weíve met those student needs. And, Tim Laurence whoís

  • now at INSEARCH actually led the first group that worked on those.

  • And, finally I just wanted to talk about the graduate attributes, which I don't really

  • have time to go into in great detail, but we are putting an enormous investment into

  • ensuring that weíre rolling out graduate attributes - the kinds of soft skills that

  • we hear from industry all the time that are really important for students once they graduate.

  • It's not enough for them to have a body of knowledge - they have to also have these these

  • graduate attributes to go with them. And, it is very difficult for students to practice

  • those graduate attributes online. And, Iím just taking one example in the Faculty of

  • Law, and that that is the attribute of being a good communicator. And, as everyone else

  • is doing across the university, theyíre looking at different levels - so the basic, intermediate,

  • and advanced. So, to be an advance communicator in the Faculty of Law, you need to be able

  • to engage in mooting and oral court advocacy. Something that you really can't do easily

  • online, but for which we have very specialised facilities at UTS, so the students can in

  • a face-to-face environment, practice that in as realistic an environment as possible.

  • So, that's a very brief 10 to 15 minute overview of the way in which we have already been thinking

  • about the future of teaching and learning at UTS. Itís underpinned by the UTS model

  • of learning, and supported through the enormous amount of work going on in terms of graduate

  • attributes, and through the redesign of our teaching and learning spaces. Thank you.

  • [Applause]

Shirley Alexander: So, in a way Iím going to be talking about a localised response to

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B1 UK learning online enormous weíre itís iím

Academic Board Q&A: The Future of Learning — Prof. Shirley Alexander (part 2/5)

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    Chaiyi Bee posted on 2014/10/21
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