My philosophy of connecting teaching (supporting and empowering the teacher) to learning (motivating and inspiring the student) is clear in my approach to the service I currently provide both at CAP and CEDAM.

A practical example of this is when an academic contacts me for advice as to how to improve their courses by integrating technology.  I generally use a specific and tested approach:

Firstly I gather information about the course from the academic such as:

What are the main objectives of the course?

What feedback would the course normally receive from students at the end of the semester?

Are there any issues that need to be address that comes from this feedback, and how is this addressed?

What would the academic like to see changed or improved and, most importantly, why?

Is there anything the academic always wanted to do and previously did not have the opportunity to experiment with (for example use of online lectures, online exams, project based assessment, wikis, podcasts, etc) Once this has been ascertained, I look at these options from a pedagogical perspective, not technical one?

I then gather some information on the students enrolled and whether they were undergraduate, graduate and the proportion of international students.

I would also ask how would the students normally take the course? (face to face, online, blended) and whether they were mainly on campus or off campus?

After this I look at ways the materials are collected, organised and delivered to the students. I enquire if the academic is prepared to explore other options such as delivering some of the resources and/or teaching, including interviews (not only written sources) from experts in the field, using e-reserve and digital reading materials, online tutorial or online/podcast lectures. What activities can be improved/changed/created to maximise the learning objectives of the course.

I constantly provide assurance and assist in developing the skills needed to change/improve/redesign the course. This is done both with traditional training (if needed) and using the  “just in time, just for me” approach. I also make sure that changes are sustainable and transferable (e.g. academics need to be able to do what I suggest in the future, without my help, and would see the benefit of applying similar learning design approaches in other courses that they, or their colleagues, teach).

Finally I suggest viewing the course from the student’s perspective.

For example:

Students will probably benefit with a more flexible approach in their learning and assessment. Many students who are intimidated by speaking in a large tutorial class would probably feel more at ease in presenting some of their work in digital online format.

International students could benefit from recorded lectures and notes that they can review at any time, and would have further opportunities to participate if provided with online participation activities such as forums and chats rather than just face to face tutorial participation.

Generally I try to discourage the often too common mistake of starting the conversation with a specific tool or technology in mind. For example, if someone requests that they would like to use a blog, the first question I ask is Why?  I then focus the conversation on the learning objectives of the exercise.

I have used this approach on many occasions while assisting colleagues at the University of Canberra where I was the IT Buddy and Moodle Mentor and in my current roles at ANU both in CEDAM and CAP and it has always proven successful because it is a personal approach. I take the time to listen and then come back with specific ideas and solutions.

A further example was when I was asked to provide support to enhance some of the Thai language courses. After applying the steps highlighted above, I suggested that some of the materials could be organised in a webpage format, following a lesson plan template so that the students knew each week what they were learning, what resources were available, what activities/assessment they had to do and what they would learn the following week.

The help I provided to Chintana Sandilands for her Thai 1002 course had an immediate effect. Here is just one of the many positive comments I have received

This is only one example of the flow on effect that my support and structured approach to learning design has had on students learning.  Overall this year I believe that the level of student engagement and positive experience in many courses has significantly increased as a result of my contribution in the College of Asia Pacific.

“Dear aacaan,

I found the way Thai1002 was linked to the wattle site greatly benefitted my studies in this course. If I was unable to attend a class everything was there for me to access and the recordings were very helpful as I could listen to them repeatedly and record my voice over the top to see if I was saying the tones correctly. 
The way in which the wattle site was set up was very good, with content broken down in to weeks made it easy to follow where we were up to and by releasing new content each week we were able to see what we will be learning in the following weeks and start working on it early.
I really enjoyed the videos showing us how to cook Thai food, and then being given the opportunity to cook these dishes in class was a lot of fun. 

Best regards,
Tegan Doblinger”
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Approaches to teaching and learning support that influence, motivate and inspire students to learn
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