Category Archives: post graduate programs

The unbundling of higher education: Breaking down the whole.

(cc) Flickr user: Mike Linksvayer

(cc) Flickr user: Mike Linksvayer

Posted by: Erika Beljaars-Harris, Educational Developer, College of Design and Social Context, RMIT University.

There’s another movement unfolding in the background of fee deregulation that we need to be aware of: the unbundling of higher education. As Professor Jim Barber (former Vice Chancellor, University of New England) explains, “The concept of ‘unbundled’ education refers to the emergent practice of allowing students to pay for those services, and only those services, that they actually require.” Similar thoughts are being raised in the UK, as this Times Higher Education article points to a report that recommends government funding follow the student and not the institution.

Think of it as the difference between a set menu (preselected courses served at a fixed time and price) compared to free choice from the menu and dishes from any other restaurant. In the higher education arena, this might mean choosing a course from a university, but not paying for the facilities and services offered. The facilities students may choose to not use include the cafeteria and other academic and support services. What’s being called a ‘pick-and-mix’ approach means that students pay for certain facilities on a fee-for-service basis. Which leads to student choosing which parts they want to use and therefore pay for. Choice has always been seen as something students value in a program of study (look at electives, streams, majors, study-abroad and cross-institutional studies for instance) but this movement might see multi-institution degrees become a path that more students select.

According to Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen, the unbundling of higher education is a form of ‘disruptive innovation‘. Christensen explains it as “a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of the market and then relentlessly moves upmarket, eventually displacing established competitors.”  An example of this already exists in the form of consumers (students) having the ability to receive credentials via RPL (Recognition of Prior Learning) through previous work experience or a MOOC. For universities, the unbundling of higher education is a form of disruptive innovation. It is enabling the consumer (student) with the ability to choose subjects and courses from a university that can be delivered on campus, online or both, without the added fees for services and facilities that they may not need nor use. As a consumer (student), this unbundling provides the ability to secure services the individual does want, and not pay for what they don’t want. This hopefully translates to cheaper, but just as, or more effective degrees and experiences selected from a wider pool of providers.

The movement towards unbundling has started. Georgia Institute of Technology is admitting students into a low-fee postgraduate degree. Students are taking courses from the University Without Walls, a university fully supported by the University of Massachusetts, that enables students to design their program of study.

The goals of unbundling of higher education are to increase the quality of lectures, enable more individualised instruction, offer an increase in choice to students and most importantly, provide it all at a lower cost. What it might mean for academics and universities is to take stock of what they deliver well online, in blended environments and on-campus: student expectations aren’t going to do anything except rise.

To be honest, I Iike this movement, I like the goals that this movement professes to be aligning towards. I will be watching those universities to see who gets it right (and wrong) in this evolution of higher education.

Share your thoughts on unbundling in the comments…

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Learning & teaching for sustainability– naturally

Guest Post: Dr Jude Westrup, Senior Advisor, Strategic Initiatives, RMIT University.

Click the image to view The Learning and Teaching for Sustainability toolkit [PDF, 812 KB, 27 pages]

Click the image to view The Learning and Teaching for Sustainability toolkit [PDF, 812 KB, 27 pages]

Following Margaret Blackburn’s post in early 2013, I responded in a comment that it was ‘…great to see sustainability and environmental responsibility made explicit in our graduate attributes…’ What this means is that whatever the program of study, graduates of RMIT University will have engaged in processes to develop their abilities to recognise environmental and social impacts and to provide leadership on sustainable approaches to complex problems. The page on the graduate attribute Environmentally aware and responsible (#3 of 6) gives some suggestions of how this might look in a program. Appropriate to their level of study, students will:
•                Recognise the interrelationship between environmental, social and economic sustainability
•                Appraise and critique context-appropriate sustainability measures
•                Take responsibility for critical decision-making in ensuring sustainable outcomes
•                Appropriately apply their environmental and sustainability literacy in a highly diverse range of contexts.
For interested teachers and academics (especially those involved in course and program reviews, amendments or developments) the Learning and Teaching for Sustainability (LTfS) project can help you map this attribute and there are many excellent curriculum development and refreshment resources already available on the LTfS website  and includes the recently produced LTfS Toolkit for curriculum development, consisting of templates and workshop activity sheets.
Sustainability is undergoing a renaissance within the international and national tertiary sector as it relates to professional, industry and community priorities. Several LTfS components of RMIT’s Sustainability Action Plan are being reinvigorated while others are being developed for the first time. Through the Office of the Dean – Learning & Teaching (Academic Portfolio) a university-wide, year-long LTfS project is flourishing, with curriculum development, professional development (PD) and LTfS opportunities for staff being the main foci.
In terms of PD, staff will be able to access resources for LTfS curriculum development and evaluation via the LTfS website, a Google Site for informal (within RMIT) sharing of ideas, the Sustainability Subject Guide (RMIT Library) and other resources collated within RMIT’s Learning Repository.

Gallery of RMIT Graphs

LTfS sits within a broader suite of sustainability projects at RMIT.

RMIT Vietnam already has sustainability resources, such as an Environmental Policy in place.

We have contributed to the International Sustainability Literacy Index (currently in development), the United Nations Higher Education for Sustainable Development portal and the National Education for Sustainability (Office of Learning & Teaching) website. RMIT is a key contributor to these sites and initiatives.The national Education for Sustainability Tertiary Forum was held at LaTrobe University in February which linked staff at Universities in NSW, Victoria and Tasmania. Detailed outcomes and actions are available on the Education for Sustainability website.

We have ongoing national participation with groups such as ACTS (Australasian Campuses Toward Sustainability) and AAEE (Australian Association for Environmental Education). Both of these groups have conferences in Hobart in November which staff are encouraged to explore, attend and contribute to.
A range of RMIT resources exist for teachers, lecturers and academic developers.

A range of RMIT resources exist for teachers, lecturers and academic developers. Click on the image to see more.

All Colleges in Melbourne and the Sustainability Group in Vietnam are involved in linking LTfS curriculum development with the Global Learning by Design (2014-2016) major project and other strategic Program and Course development and delivery initiatives (such as the AQF Program and Course Guide alignments and Undergraduate and Postgraduate Program reviews). A workshop, Introduction to Learning & Teaching for Sustainability will be available to all staff from Semester 2 in the DevelopMe PD program and online, modular resources are under development. Social media, digital learning and blog communications channels are also being explored and developed.During the RMIT Learning & Teaching Expo in September 2014 students, alumni and staff from across RMIT will present an interactive Q&A style LTfS colloquium. This session will explore key issues in sustainability of relevance to staff and students across our campuses.

The creation of a dedicated RMIT Teaching Award (P9: Graduate Learning Outcomes), for curriculum developments or initiatives that enhance one of RMIT’s graduate attributes, will further raise the profile of LTfS and enhance learning and teaching practices across RMIT.

To close on the topic of awards, the 2014 Green Gown Awards Australasia is now open and the deadline for all submissions is 4pm Tuesday 5 August 2014. A team in Landscape Architecture were finalists last year with their project looking at green roof projects.
Are there teams out there ready to have a shot at the 2014 awards?
Share your thoughts and questions about sustainability on campus in the comments section!
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Patterns for Change and Innovation

Posted by: Spiros Soulis, Senior Advisor, Learning & Teaching, RMIT University.

Click on the image to visit the GLbD site.

Click on the image to visit the GLbD site.

RMIT is a global university of technology and design but how does this translate into our programs and courses? Are they truly global? And are we keeping pace with the changes being forced upon Higher Education?  Changes that are very much driven by technology and online delivery.

Global Learning by Design (GLbD) is a major project of the University that is hoping to address and deliver on these questions. The idea is that programs will be designed for delivery in multiple locations using multiple channels: face-to-face, blended or fully-online.

So how does GLbD propose to do this?  We’ve set up Curriculum Design Teams made up of academic and teaching leads, teaching staff, educational developers, representatives from the Library and Study and Learning Centre as well as production specialists from the Office of the Dean, Learning & Teaching. It’s about bringing these stakeholders together from the start, providing a holistic approach to program development. Not a new concept in designing curriculum, but one that makes sense.

There are many innovative approaches to teaching and learning across RMIT that have resulted in rich student learning experiences. But what we have not been able to do is consistently capture this work and share it! Making it available to other disciplines and Colleges is how this good work can have a ripple effect. GLbD is putting its effort into capturing Curriculum Design Patterns and building a repository for all to access and use.

Avoiding a business-as-usual approach, we’re using particular principles of program management methodologies such as Agile and Lean. These principles have been around for a long time and are now becoming more commonplace in Higher Education.

Information on Global Learning by Design can be found here along with a list of all the Colleges’ projects for 2014. If you are interested in how you could get involved in GLbD, contact your Deputy Head/Dean Learning & Teaching. We’ll be posting an update on the work from specific Curriculum Design Teams later in the year.

Share your thoughts and questions about the project  in the comments section!
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RMIT Learning & Teaching Expo 2013

Guest post: Penny Mercer, Project Advisor, Learning and Teaching Unit, RMIT University.

Click to open the RMIT Learning & Teaching Expo 2013 page.

The Learning and Teaching Expo is an opportunity to showcase the excellent work of our dedicated teaching staff. It is a time for all of us to reflect on how we might enhance the student experience, reimagine our teaching and network with colleagues.

This year’s Expo takes the theme of “Inspiring teaching, inspiring learning.” Come along and hear what your colleagues have done to improve student learning outcomes, bring along your own experiences, or questions for discussion time. The Expo eLearning journey will allow all staff to identify a point of interest from which further learning opportunities can be explored.

Come along and hear from our invited keynote speakers about what is happening in the tertiary education sector, hear what your colleagues have done to improve student learning outcomes and bring along your own experiences or questions for discussion time.

Day 1: Tuesday 3 September – 12pm to 4.30pm, with lunch from 1pm to 2pm
Day 2: Wednesday 4 September – 9am to 1pm, with lunch from 1pm to 2pm
Venue: Design Hub, City campus.

Click here (or on the image above) to see the 2013 program and register now to attend (RMIT login required).

We look forward to seeing you there!

RMIT Learning & Teaching Expo Preview

Guest Post by Diana Cousens, Senior Advisor, Learning and Teaching Unit, RMIT.

Opens a link to the program for RMIT's Learning & Teaching Expo 2012

Click on the nautilus shell see the full program!

Transforming the Learning Experience is the theme of RMIT’s Learning and Teaching Expo this year. Held over four mornings from 27 August to Thursday 30 August 2012, the Expo will host speakers and offer seminars and workshops of national relevance to the higher education and also VET sectors.

Each morning is dedicated to a particular specialisation in learning and teaching and includes speakers and practitioners from RMIT, other universities and important members of organisations such as TEQSA and OLT (formerly ALTC). With the theme of Transforming the Learning Experience it is an opportunity for all of us to reflect on how we might enhance the student experience and re-imagine our teaching using a range of innovations including our new learning spaces and RMIT’s global presence.

Come along and hear from our invited keynote speakers about what is happening in the tertiary education sector, hear what your colleagues have done to improve student learning outcomes and bring along your own experiences or questions for discussion time.

The Expo runs from 9.00 to 1.00 with lunch from 1.00 to 2.00.

You could also win an iPad! You’ll be in the running for an iPad just by filling out a short feedback sheet.

Register to attend at: http://www.rmit.edu.au/teaching/expo(RMIT login required).

Date: Monday, 27 August – Thursday 30 August

Venue: Storey Hall and Bundoora campuses.

On Monday, Tuesday and Thursday the Expo will be held in the City Campus at Storey Hall and on Wednesday it will be held at the Bundoora Campus.

Day 1: New rules of the game
Monday 27 August
Storey Hall, City campus
Keynote 1: TEQSA and the new regulatory environment
Ms Lucy Schulz
Executive Director, Regulation and Review Group, TEQSA

Keynote 2: AQF, TEQSA and ASQA – Simple acronyms with far reaching consequences
Professor Geoff Crisp
Dean, Learning and Teaching, RMIT

Day 2: Teaching for all
Tuesday 28 August
Storey Hall, City campus
Keynote: Inclusive teaching in Australian higher education: Findings from a national study
Professor Marcia Devlin
Open University Australia

Day 3: Access all areas
Wednesday 29 August
Building 224, Bundoora campus
Keynote: An Education ‘In’ Facebook
Professor Matthew Allen
Head of Department, Internet Studies, Curtin University

Day 4: Engaging globally
Thursday 30 August
Storey Hall, City campus
Parallel Sessions with Vietnam – Saigon South & Hanoi
David DeBrot
Landon Carnie
Chi Le Phuong
Kieran Tierney
Minh Nguyen Duc
RMIT Vietnam

We look forward to seeing you there!

Teaching Awards – worth the paperwork?

Posted by: Meredith Seaman, Senior Advisor, Learning and Teaching, College of Design and Social Context, RMIT University.

Students listening to lecture, Working Men's College c.1920-1930

Students listening to a lecture in the Francis Ormond Building, Working Men’s College (now RMIT) c.1920-1930

The RMIT Teaching Awards have just been launched for this year so it’s that time when we think about evidencing good teaching practice. There’s discussion of why – and why not – someone might go forward for an award, the benefits of the process and what’s involved. Having worked with nominees and recipients over the past few years, I thought I’d share some of my experiences.

I also spoke to Kerry Mullan (who recently received a Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning from the ALTC (now OLT)) to get the perspective of a recent award recipient.

From my experience, the main reason people apply is that they’ve been encouraged by their colleagues. It’s a generalisation, but we (both here at RMIT and more broadly speaking in Australia) probably don’t have a culture where individuals seek awards or recognition for doing their job well.*

After nomination, the next step, where applicants write about themselves and their teaching – and back that up with clear evidence – does not usually come naturally. It’s hard work and a new style of writing and evidence gathering is needed.

While it’s great to receive recognition for your hard work (by receiving an award or even just being nominated) what are the other benefits of developing a Teaching Award application? Talking to Kerry confirmed my suspicion that it can be a highly rewarding process. Writing and developing an application with associated evidence can help you:

  • find that point of difference/innovation/excellence in your teaching: It may help you to realise what you do is ‘special’ after all
  • refine your practice and try new ideas, while re-affirming what you do well (as well as highlighting any gaps)
  • reflect on what you do in learning and teaching and how you support student learning as a whole, beyond just activities in classroom
  • develop a base of material that can later be reworked into a publication on your scholarship and/or practice of learning and teaching, seek promotion, or develop new ideas to apply in your teaching
  • find and create opportunities to discuss your teaching practice/philosophy with colleagues and share effective tips and techniques.

An award application involves writing a clear statement against criteria such as “Approaches to the support of learning and teaching that influence, motivate and inspire students to learn” and “Approaches to assessment, feedback and learning support that foster independent learning”. As well as addressing the criteria, you need to create a narrative that reflects on your philosophy of learning and teaching.  How have you enacted this in practice to support your students’ learning? Finally, you need to support your statements with evidence.

Even if you’re not quite ready to develop an application, you might still want to start to develop a portfolio of evidence in relation to your teaching, or join a peer partnership/teaching network. The benefits of reflecting on your practice and developing a portfolio go beyond the awards themselves and can also prepare you for next year’s round.  (Most categories will be asking you to reflect on three years of teaching, so it’s definitely a marathon not a sprint.)

If you’re ready to get started, familiarise yourself with the categories and criteria. There are 17 categories ranging across staff (HE and TAFE, including sessional staff), support staff and awards for research and programs (The First Year Experience, Flexible Learning and Teaching, Indigenous Education etc.) Team awards are also encouraged.

Develop a portfolio of evidence of your teaching practice, beginning with your survey scores from the CES.

A portfolio of evidence can be a great reflective tool. Along with your survey data, you could start simply by saving unsolicited student feedback and examples of teaching approaches that you’ve tried successfully (or unsuccessfully). There is more online about portfolios of evidence at the La Trobe and ACU websites to point to just two. These sites will give you an idea about what kinds of evidence you might use in your application.

When it’s time to start writing your application, Kerry found it useful to imagine that she was writing and observing someone else’s teaching practice. In other words, be supportive but factual. Get friends and family unfamiliar with your discipline to review for clarity as well as colleagues. The members of selection panels may need to be steered through the jargon of your discipline.

Students in plumbing workshop, Working Mens College

Students in a plumbing workshop, Working Men’s College (now RMIT) c.1920-1930

For more information, another mind to bounce ideas off, or someone to help you draft a nomination, contact your School’s L&T Chair or your Senior Advisor Learning and Teaching. RMIT has material (login required) such as video presentations and past nomination exemplars here.

Thanks to Kerry Mullan for her time and assistance with this post.

*Now is the time to nudge a colleague to make an expression of interest about nomination to their L&T Chair or Head of School! 

The source of the images for this post is the James Alexander Smith Collection held by the State Library of Victoria. They are out of copyright. James Alexander Smith was a Melbourne consulting engineer and President of the Working Men’s College Council.

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