It suddenly hit me that I was saying this all the time; and I was losing the battle. So, why fight it? That day I set the following day’s work as a digital homework exercise and began flipping my classroom in that moment. I have never looked back. Within a week I was asking students to consistently use their mobiles and technology to collaborate, problem-solve, work on tasks, and communicate in and out of class; and it was a huge success.
Since then I have been passionate about learning design that uses the best of technology, the best of online learning and the best of face-to-face engagement.
The biggest challenge facing university teachers today is…
Some would say that students’ attention spans are shorter or that they are easily distracted by technology, or that they simply learn differently than they used to. While all this may be true, and we should think about these factors when designing our learning sequences and flows, I don’t think this is the biggest challenge.
I would say the greatest challenge is the same as it’s always been: to dispassionately and honestly evaluate our own teaching methodologies, styles and pedagogy and really ask ourselves: am I teaching these students in the best way for them to achieve the learning outcomes? There’s a culture of student blame in higher education: if my students are underperforming, it’s not me, it’s them. And while we do have to adapt for changing student attitudes, levels and motivation, sometimes even between semesters, that is our job.
It’s a huge challenge to look at your lesson and say, sometimes, it’s just not working. And then to have the courage to change and enter new teaching landscapes. But when we do, everyone wins, especially the students and that’s ultimately why we’re all here.
The project I’m currently immersed in is…
…an Engineering subject that is getting an overhaul. The academics are keen to shake things up to modernise the learning and assessments and reimagine the student journey. We are looking at revitalising the assessments to be more authentic and engaging; we are rethinking off-campus activities so students come to class ready to collaborate and problem solve; we are redesigning class sessions to maximise the time students have to evaluate, synthesise and apply rather than listen and note down. It’s exciting to work with people who see that technology, when used in the right way, can truly enhance learning and save academics time.
My team are probably tired of hearing about it, but…
…I am a triathlete and am currently training for a half IronMan in May of next year. That means I am up at 5am each day for training and can’t walk up or down any stairs at work because my legs have stopped working, or can’t laugh at a joke because I’ve done too much core work. I love it though; take last weekend for example, on Saturday I was doing an ocean swim watching the sunrise with a pod of dolphins playing offshore near Watson’s Bay. I don’t think it gets better than that. But ultimately, I do it all for the beer and burgers I get to eat after!