At the 2016 UTS Teaching and Learning Forum, Dr Vanni Accarigi was the recipient of the Strengthening the UTS Model of Learning award. We spoke to her about her teaching and learning practice, her plans for 2017 and her experiences of teaching.

Q. Please tell us a little about what you won the award for…

My award is based on the research, development and implementation of a methodology called the Virtual Landscape Tour. Students use digital media to research, interact with, read and interpret a neighbourhood in their host city during their International Studies capstone subject, In-country Studies. They present their projects using platforms of their choice: these can be videos, digital storytelling, visual essays, blogs, Instagram feeds, soundscapes to make a few examples, together with a written analysis. The idea behind it is to get students to go and explore their host cities, learn through real life encounters and use the concepts developed through their readings to produce a critically informed analysis of social and cultural aspects of their neighbourhoods.

Q. What’s something new you are hoping to try or explore in learning and teaching in 2017?

I hope to build on the Virtual Landscape Tour with international students coming to UTS to explore the possibilities of situated and active learning, in the sense of using mobile technologies and learning from being and moving in the city.

Q. What’s one trick or tip you wish you’d known when you first started out in university teaching?

How to run a tutorial: I started teaching at the beginning of my PhD, and I come from an academic tradition of lectures only. I had no clue.

Q. What’s been your most memorable learning and teaching moment – as a teacher, or a student?

Looking at the inquiry-based projects produced as digital stories of some of my students and realising they were better than what I could have done.

Q. What’s the most challenging aspect of teaching in universities today?

Imagining what is going to be relevant in the next decade and giving students critical tools to deal with precarious futures.

Q. Do you think teaching practices in your discipline area have changed a lot with the introduction of new technologies?

It depends on the technological fluency of individual teachers, not simply in terms of ability to use technologies, but in terms of articulating how technologies change and mediate the way we know, think and are in the world.

You can follow Dr Vanni Accarigi on Instagram at @ilariacaterina.

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