Learning and Teaching Investment Fund 2012

Summary of projects

Project title

“Changing Spaces” – Peer-led networks to connect people/spaces/technology

Project leaders

Dr Patricia McLaughlin

Project team

  • Gayle Nicholls
  • Rick Ryan
  • Michael Nott

Project summary

RMIT has made significant investments in learning spaces and technology infrastructure in recent years. This investment has challenged staff and students to develop learning and teaching models that embrace the advantages of such spaces and technology, to ultimately transform the student experience. This is particularly urgent in SEH as the industry workplaces demand greater knowledge and use of technologically-led solutions by graduates. This urgency has required creative solutions to staff development and professional practice (Cox, 2009).

There is significant learning and teaching evidence that peer-led support, dissemination and exchange can improve outcomes for students (Radcliffe et al, 2008). This project has been scaffolded upon the concept of long-term sustainability of good teaching practice. It has recognised the movement/turnover of the teaching staff and the involvement of various age groups of staff.

This project extended the successful 2011 LTIF pilot project in peer-led support for technology in new learning spaces in SEH. The 2011 LTIF project explored the development of peer-led support models at the “coalface” that encouraged a sustainable approach to using technology in new learning spaces. Pilot participants in the 2011 study provided significant data about learning and teaching in new spaces and the use of technology in day to day classes.

The 2011 project indicated that staff acceptance for peer-led disciplinary support was high and the immediacy of professional development in areas of e-learning encouraged new models of teaching and learning such as team teaching and cross-discipline support. There was also evidence that staff preferred to work in their discipline areas to “tackle” new learning spaces and new forms of technology.

The 2012 project used the participants from the 2011 project to develop and manage peer-led learning support networks across their disciplines and spaces in semester 1 and 2, 2012. The 2012 project set up four peer-led workshop sessions that explored issues such as designing teaching around new spaces, using e-learning tools in those spaces, confidence in delivery methods, managing large groups in spaces, real-time support, feedback, reflection and scholarship of learning, as they applied to staff working in new spaces with technology. Radcliffe et al( 2008) note that there is a critical nexus between pedagogy, space and technology and that professional collaboration amongst staff is fundamental to improved outcomes for students. There was also a need to ensure that this professional development was not lost because of lack of immediacy of support. This project addressed these needs through discipline based support led by peers.

The peer-led support workshop sessions were conducted at both the Bundoora and city campus in SEH teaching spaces and were scaffolded upon a “just in time” approach to professional development (Richlin &Cox, 2004).

Reflection and feedback were built into the project through feedback web links, a yammer site, evaluation sheets and an ongoing Community of Practice. As well as enabling a model of support for engaged learning and teaching, the experiences of staff have provided vital feedback for other staff, especially those who were unable to participate in workshops. Reflective practice that leads to on-going sustainable improvements was a key feature of this project.

The data developed through this project has also facilitated ongoing dissemination through an established community of practice, academic research and publications. This dissemination has continued beyond the life of the funding year and will continue to provide support for improved practice in learning and teaching spaces for the benefit of all students.

Outcomes

Project Phase

Summary activity

Outcome and Impact

1

Development of project participants and mentors

Workshops for academic staff and mentors

Staff and mentors using new learning spaces to trial innovations, ideas arising from sessions and technology in their classes

  • Emails & invitations to all staff teaching in four SEH designated learning spaces: 52 responses
  • Four workshops conducted: total 43 staff attendance (City and Bundoora campus )
  • Workshop presentation-ITS ( Bundoora): 15 staff
  • Community Practice established

2

De-Briefing sessions and dissemination of semester one information

Second semester staff identified and approached about participating as peers in project.

  • Weblink established for dissemination
  • Emails and links sent to all timetabled staff in 4 designated SEH spaces: 39 responses
  • Yammer group established: 73 staff members

3

Surveys on learning spaces.

On-going reflection, recording of staff feedback.

On-going development for mentors and interested discipline peers.

4

Evaluation of project.

Opportunities for cross College dissemination.

Student feedback survey /CES results

Academic publications.

Presentations

Final report

  • Evaluation framework completed ( see below)
  • Cross-college workshop: SAB 28th Aug 2012
  • CES analysis ongoing
  • McLaughlin, P. and Faulkner, J. 2012, 'Flexible spaces and what students expect from university facilities', in Journal of Facilities Management, Emerald Group Publishing Limited, United Kingdom, vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 140-149
  • Presentation: McLaughlin P. “Engaging Students through use of Spaces.” Deakin University 18 May 2012
  • Final report disseminated LTU website 2012

Table 1: Changing Spaces:Peer-led networks to connect people/spaces/technology.

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