Learning and Teaching Investment Fund 2011

Summary of projects

Poster of Project - Embedding academic literacies to meet global and local learning support requirements. The repurposing, renewal and expansion of the RMIT Learning Lab.

Project title

Embedding academic literacies to meet global and local learning support requirements. The repurposing, renewal and expansion of the RMIT Learning Lab.

Project leaders

Fiona Ellis

Project team

  • Barbara Morgan
  • Lyn Bond
  • Josie Ryan
  • Bill Lane
  • Anna Havir
  • Mary Kerstjens
  • SLC learning and maths advisors

Project summary

The project builds on the significant past success of the original Learning Lab. The repurposing and renewal of the Learning Lab will provide RMIT students with resources and services that address the flexible learning support needs of the digital generation of students. The renewed Learning Lab also provides RMIT teaching staff with engaging resources and services which can be readily integrated into program delivery via Blackboard classrooms. The site incorporates new web 2.0 functionality and is able to deliver extended online services to students.

The Learning Lab has been redesigned and restructured to be visually engaging as well as accessible on mobile devices and screen readers. The site includes the following new content areas; Online services, English language development, Post graduate research, Getting started and a discipline specific area called Resources for courses.

Learning Lab will be launched by the mid semester break after targeted usability testing. The evaluation of the site will consist of surveys and focus groups with student cohorts across RMIT as well as interviews with RMIT teaching staff.

Outcomes

This project delivers a high-quality self-directed learning resource that can support RMIT students 24/7, independent of their location. The new revised Learning Lab (prototype version) has already received significant acclaim across the Australasian Academic Language and Learning (AALL) community. In particular, the resource was profiled in a conference presentation at the AALL 10th Biennial Conference, Forging New Directions in Academic Language and Learning, held at the University of South Australia last year. Feedback included:

I wish we had the ability to develop a site like this!

Truly fabulous!

Please let us know when it is live so that we can link.

The project provided the opportunity to develop strategic networks to highlight the importance of embedding academic literacies within RMIT teaching practice globally. The project facilitated the beginning of a community of practice with the academic development groups in the three colleges and the Learning Skills Unit at RMIT Vietnam. This collaboration has led to greater shared understandings and pedagogical approaches to the language and literacies development of RMIT students. It is particularly pleasing that the Study and Learning Centre’s has now developed stronger links and working relationships with our professional colleagues at RMIT Vietnam. It is anticipated that these networks will lead to further, productive collaborations.

The revised Learning Lab’s guided online tutorials are particularly beneficial for low SES students and other disadvantaged cohorts. These engaging and interactive resources provide an introduction to the academic skills and discourse requirements that are often assumed rather than explicitly taught in programs. Flexible access to a range of resources and services that support academic transition is needed given the increasing diversity of the RMIT student cohort. 4

Indeed, there is a growing body of literature which highlights the importance of welcoming novices to the academic cultures of tertiary communities (Lea & Street 2006; Leask 2006; Priest 2009).

Download Full Report [PDF, 510 KB]