The Blended Learning and Teaching (BLT) project was an initiative of the School of Accounting and Finance. The project was geared towards supporting the adaptation of the Master of Professional Accounting (MPA) subjects’ online resources for on campus classroom delivery.
Guided and informed by the MPA course review, the project focused on the need to deliver subject content that optimised access to knowledge and skills required to fulfill the subject learning outcomes, leading to students succeeding in this program. The BLT project sought to address the need to motivate on campus students to effectively and efficiently use both online and classroom spaces to optimise learning and transfer of knowledge.
The BLT project was framed against addressing two characteristics of students undertaking the MPA. On one side, there is a certain expectation that students undertaking a postgraduate program, such as the MPA, have a greater responsibility, maturity and accountability for engaging in independent learning activities. On the other side, the majority of students enrolled in the MPA are international students who have an added challenge of transitioning into the Australian higher education context. The tension between independent learning and transitioning into a new learning environment was the backdrop to designing blended learning opportunities into the MPA subjects.
What were you trying to achieve?
The 3-point goal of the BLT project was to:
- remove on campus (both domestic and international) students’ resistance to completing independent learning activities through the strategic use of online resources and tools that compliment synchronous learning activities such as classroom teaching or online meetings;
- capture insights from the subject teaching teams to understand the community of learning practice that exists among on campus students; and
- make international students feel at ease and comfortable with the transition into the Australian higher education context by helping them settle into a rewarding learning environment.
What did it look like?
It is critical to note here, that the strategies presented here required strong collaborative teaching-team dynamics.
The following strategies were piloted in 201960, beginning with the first four subjects that MPA students enrol into, in their first year on the course. These strategies were then implemented into the 12 subjects that make up the MPA program during 202030.
We capture here what we learnt so far by implementing these strategies:
- Navigation design of online subject sites – This was achieved by working with Learning Resource officers and subject convenors. All MPA subjects would have similar navigation menus and menu headings to help students familiarise themselves with their online learning environment, making it accessible, user-friendly and inclusive.
- Zero-cost eBook initiative – which is a project supported by the CSU Library where we are able to increase the user-licences for eBooks provided via the library to MPA students (normally these would be the prescribed textbooks, but if the subject teaching team had other readings that came from various eBooks, the library could be alerted to these and be included in the initiative list). User analytics from 201960 and 202030 were very positive, with students across all cohorts accessing eBooks 80% more than previously with an average of 80-100 students per subject downloading official copies via the library. In some subjects, students were able to download/print the whole textbook (if they followed the ebook etiquette provided in the early weeks of session).
- Unambiguous learning tasks – online learning resources were clearly signposted for both students and on campus lecturers. Learning tasks undertaken in class clearly linked with and built on readings. Activities in synchronous spaces were designed to apply concepts covered. Online quizzes both reinforced the concepts before and after synchronous activities.
- Leganto reading list – This was not simply a list of readings, but it allowed students to explore the reading resources in a single space with clear guidance around how each reading linked to concepts and learning tasks. All MPA subjects were linked to a Leganto reading list (even before the “new normal” of COVID-19 and the transition to all-online – MPA’s use of the Leganto reading list provided positive results of improving students’ learning experiences that Leganto is now an essential tool for all subjects across the university).
- Finally, Subject Teaching Roadmap – All MPA subjects have a teaching roadmap attached to the subject sites since the beginning of 202030. This is pretty much a “if you were hit by a bus” strategy, as well as facilitating a more transparent transfer of teaching strategies in the MPA subjects for new on campus lecturers (the feedback on the teaching roadmap has been positive so far). The teaching roadmaps are then embedded as a hidden tab in the MPA subject sites, where it follows the subject content as it moves from session to session.
How can I make this happen?
As mentioned already, the key to unlocking the value of strategic BLT design is creating strong collaborative teaching-teams.
To learn more about the tools and strategies here, you may want to:
- Speak to your Educational Designer;
- Look through the BLT resources in the CSU WIKI; and
- Learn about Leganto and the library’s eBook options here.