If you work at RMIT University, you might be aware that expressions of interest are open in the College of Design and Social Context, for the Learning and Teaching Investment Fund (LTIF) grants, until 7 August. Some of you may still be wondering whether or not to apply. We wanted to recognise and share the great work that’s going on with this year’s successful applicants, and at the same time, inspire others to put in for the 2016 round. So we’ve asked this year’s project teams to write a brief vignette about something that excites them about their LTIF project. Here’s what a couple of the teams had to say:
The Language of Design LTIF
Leaders: Laurene Vaughan, Adam Nash, Ruth Moeller
This project aims to achieve two things. First, being the development of a digital resource of the lexicon of design terminology that crosses three specific disciplines within design which can be built upon in the future as need dictates. Secondly, to provide a model that can be used by other disciplines to create such a lexicon for themselves.
“We’re all in this together”. Ben Lee, 2005
In the development of university programs, there is strong emphasis on giving students interdisciplinary experiences.
In this LTIF project, the team is comprised of project leaders from design, digital media and learning & teaching (L&T), and a research assistant who is a filmmaker! Members of our reference group are from fashion, graphic and communication design, digital media, library, study & learning centre in both Australia and Vietnam. As collaborators on this LTIF project we, like our students, need to work in a strongly interdisciplinary environment.
As the L&T member of the team, I listen to the two digital designers talk about trans-mediality and how this can enhance the access to the resource, and how easy this is to do: I think to myself, so this is what it’s like to work in an interdisciplinary team.
Three things I have learnt about working in an interdisciplinary team
- You need to know what you are doing: seems obvious I know, but from the beginning the team had a clear vision of the needs we were addressing and what we are aiming to achieve in this project. This clarity of purpose, developed over many conversations in airports, over spring rolls and occasionally in meeting rooms has allowed us to focus on the ‘how’ of the project rather than going back to the ‘what’ and ‘why’.
- Everyone one has a place and a contribution to make: I know very little about digital design, or in fact design in general but that’s OK, that’s not my role. Sure I can ask questions about it, and am picking things up, I can even use “wireframe’ in a sentence but my role is to focus on the L&T aspects and to use my contacts to pull together members of a reference group with design perspectives from across the university.
- You can learn a lot: our project is about ‘language’ and ‘discipline language’ in particular. When working with this team the first thing that struck me was language: what is a ‘wireframe’, ‘folksonomy’ or a ‘croquis’? Now I know. I can even use old language in a new way, such as to spend “a bit of time iterating”. I am learning about design and digital media, and while I doubt that I will ever be a practitioner I am now able to ask informed questions using the ‘right’ language. I think this has helped me develop understanding of possible answers and what is possible within these disciplines.
Transforming Learning and Teaching with Practical Analytics
Leaders: Erika Beljaars-Harris, Howard Erry
Learning analytics is an emerging field that has been gaining attention in universities which involves the collection of student data for the purpose of improving learning and teaching. Our project focuses on using learning analytics in a practical way- we want analytics to be accessible tools that are used and understood by academics and students across the university. The first step in our project has been to hear the voices of academics. We ran focus groups to understand the needs and attitudes of academics and to determine how learning analytics fit with their learning priorities. One thing that has really struck us is the inspiring way in which staff are making use of online tools. It has been exciting to see how academics from different colleges are experimenting with a range of tools and developing online learning environments specific to their students’ needs. In the last half of the year we will attempt to specifically address issues raised by staff in the focus groups by developing tools and resources for staff on how to use learning analytics. We are also presenting a range of practical workshops showcasing how RMIT staff are using learning analytics, as well as presentations from external guests on how to make use of Google and Blackboard analytics.
You can find general RMIT information about LTIF grants at http://www1.rmit.edu.au/teaching/ltif and specific information about the DSC application process at http://www1.rmit.edu.au/browse;ID=rmnomkd0pe56z . Or you can contact Melanie Williams firstname.lastname@example.org or your Deputy Dean/Head L&T to have a chat about your ideas.