Challenging the Status Quo Through an Education Transformation: Monash College

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The educational approach is rapidly changing, and so too are classrooms. The shift from traditional lessons to a blended and flipped model has permeated the academic space in recent years. With two international awards now under their belt, Monash College is a perfect example of how reshaping learning can ensure that students receive an enriched educational foundation through leading-edge solutions.

Monash College’s vision is ‘Student Centred, Quality Led Growth’, so it made perfect sense that their Associate Director of eLearning, Dr. Kulari Lokuge, with senior leadership support embarked on a journey to introduce Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) to provide a rich learning experience to their students and staff.

A fundamental starting point for any successful initiative that involves a full scale revision of learning technology across an entire college is to have a team with clear goals that understands the objectives of the institution and the postitive impact technology will have on students’ lives. In order to make sure the right approach was taken and international benchmarks met, external consultants were engaged to make an independent assessment of how teaching and learning was being implemented with TEL at the time, and where things could be improved. With the support of the Monash College Board and senior leadership who recognised the importance of a new educational approach, a stragtegic plan was created that clarified the way forward.

Power of Embracing New Technology

Introducing new ways of teaching and learning across an entire institution is a large-scale task; one that needed a robust professional development framework to support the teaching staff as they adopted technology to transform their classrooms into the new model.

The idea of Dr. Lokuge and the Central eLearning Team (CeLT) was phased; first, deliver dedicated Learning Design workshops, so teachers could truly understand what was possible with technology and how it could be applied to their teaching. And second, to create a user interface for the existing Learning Management System (LMS) Moodlerooms Enterprise, and train teachers on how best to use the different tools available to be able to  fully appreciate the benefits of both the technology and the new educational model.

A Professional Development Framework was then developed based on the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership standards, Professor Gilly Salmon’s five-state model, and Carpe Diem Model. This encouraged staff to design their courses and experiment with the LMS.

The workshops first focused on how to best utilize the LMS as a true educational tool rather than a simple document repository. As technology confidence grew among staff, additional tools for media management and other collaboration solutions were made available to teachers so they could make lessons even more engaging and interactive.

A Vital Ingredient for Success is Staff & Student Engagement

This approach has shown to be a great success. In 2017 alone, CeLT delivered 41 learning design workshops and 126 professional development workshops attended by almost 1200 staff; Moodlerooms use has increased and over 1300 videos were created through the embedded Kaltura’s Media Management System.

The college also commends teachers and faculty for their technology success and initiatives. Staff are regularly highlighted in the College’s internal news, are provided with access to conferences and invited to present their learnings and insights to peers and the senior leadership team.

For new staff, integration within the eLearning system begins at the time of induction. They are trained to deliver the same quality of class, regardless of their time at the college or their teaching experience. The technology provides teaching staff more time outside of class, a benefit that allows them to apply for eLearning and blended learning research and innovation grants.

The initiative has been so successful, it was awarded a Catalyst Award for professional development and received the ALT 2017 Learning Technologist of the Year Award, as well as positively impacting on the students’ learning experience. Monash College reports that students are meeting performance and engagement goals, with the CeLT receiving praise from surveys and anecdotal feedback from students and staff across the organisation.

Dr. Lokuge tells us that the transformation success is due to two reasons: getting everyone involved in the transformation journey, and providing the resources to solve problems.”

Building a Sustainable Future via Innovation

Dr. Lokuge credits Blackboard for being a key partner with Monash College: “It has been a good partnership, and CeLT continues to seek out the best educational tools for their students and the best professional development opportunities for staff. We have our eyes on what is happening outside and what’s next.”

Whatever that might be, we’ll just have to wait and see, but you can be assured that Monash College will continue to push the technology boundaries to deliver an exceptional experience for their students.