For Dr. Kulari Lokuge, Associate Director of eLearning at Monash College, the pedagogical approach taken by the Central eLearning Team (CeLT) has allowed them to support the delivery of high quality pre-university courses. The creation of professional development opportunities within the college has enabled staff to progress well with Technology Enhanced Learning and Teaching.
Monash College’s academic and English language programs are a very important step for many international students wanting to enter Monash University, one of the top 100 universities in the world.
Monash College’s vision is: ‘Student Centred, Quality Led Growth’ and it is for this reason that online, flipped and blended learning play an essential role.
Dr. Lokuge explains that Monash College’s model of education seeks to ensure that digital teaching tools are incorporated into all of its courses, and is inclusive of language and subject specific domains. However, she insists that pedagogy must precede technology and the starting point for any successful technology enhanced learning is a team that has clear goals, understands the objectives of the institution, and the impact that the technology will have on their students’ lives. “Our eLearning team help to resolve key issues of pedagogy that teachers face every day through educational technology”.
When asked about the process of connecting teachers to digital tools, and adapting to new technology, Dr. Lokuge said “There are those who want to try new things and do everything differently; these are the first ones who will try new ideas. The rest come on board when they see things done and understand the benefits.”
Form and content changes
The team led by Dr. Lokuge prides itself on the progressive way in which the customization of Moodle themes has been implemented. “What once looked like a repository for information and documents now looks like a modern website, and that alone encourages students and teachers to use it.” New themes have a modern look and a mobile friendly interface which invites students to access Moodle frequently and easily. These changes in ‘look and feel’ sustain a positive cycle: when students find their courses more attractive, they use them more. This encourages teachers to continue developing and personalizing them.
Nonetheless, it is also important to emphasize that it’s not just about making adjustments to the interface, but also about complementing actions with structured and conscious solutions that address the needs of the students. “It’s not just about putting a nice theme and making everything look nice, it’s about having all the pieces in the right place, training teachers to use them effectively, and constantly thinking about how things can be improved,” says Dr. Lokuge.
Permanent, continuous evolution
Evolution and personalization is a key driver in Monash College’s eLearning strategy. With avenues for continuous review and reflection, the eLearning team, along with the support of the teachers, constantly evaluate processes and decisions to deliver high quality educational standards, that engage and energize both their students and teachers.
Dr. Lokuge considers the learning experience as a journey, from the very first week to the last. “In this journey the students’ learning experiences are taken as one of the most important aspects, and the subject matter is in constant evaluation and transformation towards making the learning experience valuable.”
Being a client of Moodlerooms Enterprise allows Monash College to maintain open conversation with their technology partner, which is key to delivering on their commitment to continuous improvement and evolution. Dr. Lokuge says, “Feedback is very important; it is essential that we work together from beginning to end, because we are the ones that have the experiential role, while the technology partner can advance the technology. But if the conversation isn’t continuous, we could be working in opposite directions. Together, we make it happen.”
The community that promotes Moodlerooms Enterprise is advanced in the use of learning management systems, and this relationship and open channel of communication allows us to reach a higher level of personalization in its platforms.
For Dr. Lokuge, aligning the whole team with the same vision is the core of every successful process. In her opinion, it is about being able to change lives through education and all the tools that we have available today.
*Dr. Kulari Lokuge, Associate Director of eLearning at Monash College.
*Photos by: AFP Mal Fairclough