Blended learning and online teaching/Distributed and multi-site learning
Distributed and multi site learning focused on how to offer teaching and assessment to people distributed across multiple venues. Our panel looks at the development of an online subject for nurses in the workplace, and a website to assist educators in the field who are supervising students on prac. Also included, but not present in the panel is an example of online assessment through published written work.
Distance Education (DE) - How to make it work[edit | edit source]
The Master of Nursing (Breast Care) and the Master of Nursing (Cancer / Palliative Care) are two specialisms that sit within a suite of nursing Master’s courses offered by the School of Nursing and Midwifery at La Trobe University. In 2013, a decision was made to offer the specialist courses online. However, for some of the courses a blended mode of delivery was used (some online materials and some face to face content delivery and assessment). Because the students in these courses are located across Australia and New Zealand, the capacity to use a blended mode was not possible. This meant that all content and activity had to be online.
Liz Pascoe has been coordinating both Breast Care and Cancer/Palliative Care courses since 2009. Her understanding of the needs of DE students has evolved over those past five years. The most significant issue facing DE students who are undertaking all their learning online is the sense of isolation they experience. Given this important issue, a great deal of Liz's efforts are directed towards establishing and maintaining ongoing communication with the students. Liz uses a number of approaches to achieve this, such as web conferencing through Blackboard Collaborate (a virtual classroom environment), regular emails containing pointers and directions for forthcoming assessment activities, and a library resources that will assist them in their studies. Liz also makes a point of constantly reminding students that her job is to assist them toward successful learning. Many of the students who take Liz's course have not studied for a number of years, which has Liz constantly thinking about how to present the course online.
Cancer is a complex disease to learn about, so Liz uses a combination of words and audio-visual materials. The visual content is often used to re-enforce complex issues that are thoroughly presented in texts - such as how targeted therapies work at the cellular level. Material is presented in a ‘book’ format within a Learning Management System (Moodle) environment, and the content is presented within the books using a consistent structure, for example: preamble, learning outcomes, content, introduction, individual sections, and summary. Links are added for further readings, such as government and specialist organisations. Supporting audio-visual aids are embedded. Because of the breadth of subject content that is covered in the cancer subjects, Liz tries to maintain a balance between providing information, and asking people to find their own. The content is therefore interspersed with specific readings, specific activities, links to external organisations, skill activities, and reflective activities.
Information about assessment activities are all based on a similar format to avoid any confusion, for example, a submission template is provided. Assessment guidelines and marking rubrics are made explicitly clear. Checklists are also provided.
Brian Dunell supports Liz's efforts in developing and maintaining the online education sites. Brian works across the School of Nursing in the Faculty, so supports a large number of people like Liz. In this project, Brian's support focused on successful use of the web conferencing system (Blackboard Collaborate, as well as formally Elluminate Live), and making sure the wider online platform (Moodle) was functioning as required, and that students could access their materials. Brian and Liz will speak in more detail of their experiences, and offer tips and advice for others going into this mode.
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Jacqui Theobald and Natasha Long will give an overview of an online field education project for social work field educators undertaken by staff in the Department of Social Work in the La Trobe University Rural Health School. This project was developed with financial support from the faculty of Health Sciences and aims to enhance the capacity of the field educators to provide quality field education placements. We have developed a suite of resources to provide equitable access to relevant and up to date information for field educators, regardless of location. Additionally, the aim of the website is to improve the quality of student learning by increasing field educators’ access to a range of audio visual, written and other interactive resources designed to support their capacity to manage the complex array of tasks and responsibilities involved in the provision of field education. For example, the website includes resources to support field educators to develop a range of skills relating to: planning for a successful placement, tips for supervision, and developing meaningful and realistic learning agreements. Though this website has specific relevance for people involved in social work field education it can be easily transferred to other disciplines.
Using the Web for assignments and assessment[edit | edit source]
Sharon Croxford and Adrienne Forsyth
Sharon and Adrienne were asked to pilot design and developmental ideas for their subject, so that students could progress their studies while out on prac. They recently tested online assignments for assessment, asking students to use Wikibooks to prepare an information sheet for a target community group, and Youtube to distribute a video explaining their efforts in Wikibooks. The full account and feedback from the trial is still coming in, but initial reports are that it was engaging and challenging for the students. Leigh interviewed Sharon and Adrienne near the end of semester, just before all reports were in. They talk about the set up for the pilot subject, and what they're expecting will come out of it. We'll follow up with them with another recorded talk when all reports are in.