Wednesday, October 9, 2013

University of South Australia, Adelaide.

The University of South Australia in Adelaide was a valuable place to visit. They are currently in the process of building a new $80 million learning centre to primarily house the Business and Accounting subjects. Whilst it is only possible to see the exterior, they do have a model room set up. Stuart Dinmore gave up some valuable time to show me this learning space and answer all my questions.
Each learning hub has its own tv & 3 touch screen computers

This is currently lecturers desk where they can control all tvs

The learning space has 6 learning hubs each with 3 touch screen computers and a flat screen tv. The tv's are for group presentations, group work or the lecturer can control them from a central point. The wall have a clear perspex cover that can be used with whiteboard pens.

Students will be expected to learn in a flipped classroom manner. The lecturer issues a podcast to be listened to before class and then during class-time the students can work on various activities.

Stuart presented some interesting challenges around this new design some which school struggle with:
How to get staff on board, and up to speed?
How to get students on board and up to speed?

Students have a preconceived idea of what university is, and that is sitting in a lecture theatre, going to tutorials and working on assignments. This type of active learning is not something that as yet is linked to the 'university experience'. 
Staff are used to giving a lecture and then running tutorials. This new learning environment to some might seem like an increased work load; as students now listen to lectures in their own time and the lecturer time is filled with teaching/learning. The activities now needing to be designed by the lecturer.  What I hadn't realized in South Australia is that salaries, funding and ranking can be based around student feedback on the course/lecturer. If students don't like the new way of learning will this have an unfair impact?  

These are challenges that secondary schools are also facing. As we go 1:1 with devices and reshaped our curriculum to create authentic and collaborative learning programs to prepare our students for their futures; our learning environments need to change. However, like our students we all have a variety of skills and creating a new set of skills to teach in these new learning environments takes time. We wont all get there at the same time but are should be working towards a common goal. It is about support you get on the way and  Stuart at the UniSA is working hard at providing this support to the staff.

I think that as schools are changing their learning environments, they will demand a tertiary education inline with what the UniSA are creating. They are an innovative university taking the first step to creating an education for students that will help support the knowledge economy and prepare young adults for their chosen career.

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