Dr. Kulari Lokuge of Monash College is leading a team of innovators, faculty, and students through an education transformation journey. Their award-winning model supports staff professional development while providing students with a modern way of learning.
Monash College is not afraid to challenge the status quo. Transforming from the traditional classroom to a blended and flipped classroom model is ensuring students receive an academic foundation using cutting edge technology.
The combination of a strong education at its core, innovative technology tools and a faculty trained and supported by the administration is why Monash College was recently awarded the prestige Association for Learning Technology (ALT) International 2017 Team Learning Technologist of the Year and the Blackboard APAC 2017 Catalyst Award for Professional Development.
Led by Dr. Kulari Lokuge, Associate Director of eLearning, the Monash College Central eLearning Team (CeLT) created innovative and collaborative approaches in digital learning embedding tools such as Blackboard Open LMS, Echo360 Active Learning Platform (ALP) and Turnitin into the classroom model. From the start Blackboard has provided the technology structure for students learning and staff professional development.
The process began in October 2015 when the CeLT team went beyond their mission to create a professional development framework that supported teaching staff transforming their classroom into the new model. Dr. Lokuge sees professional development as identifying the tools faculty need and providing them with the knowledge on how to use them. Since 2015 CeLT has provided over 200 training sessions with 1700 attending.
Dr. Lokuge is quick to acknowledge that success is due to an eLearning team who share a passion and dedication. Dr. Lokuge works closely with central leadership, a supportive Board of Directors, and teachers and faculty who are willing to innovate and partner with the eLearning core team. The team is comprised of four support categories: Learning Content Designers, Learning Resources Designers, Learning Management System Specialists and Learning Analytics Specialists.
The Digital Learning Initiative was launched in conjunction with an eLearning Professional Development strategy. Using the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership standards, Prof. Gilly Salmon’s five-state model and Carpe Diem Model were used to encourage staff to design their courses and experiment with the tools within the college’s Learning Management System, Blackboard Open LMS.
To engage staff and students, Blackboard Open LMS was upgraded to a modern looking interface. As staff’s technology confidence grew, additional tools for media management (Kaltura) and other collaboration tools were introduced. Over 900 staff have accessed professional development services in 2017, reinforcing the college’s move to a blended and flipped delivery model.
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Training provided the opportunity for staff to embrace the new technology. This is supported by evidence in increased attendance in professional development workshops; an increase in Blackboard Open LMS storage use; and over 1300 faculty created videos since implementation of Kaltura’s Media Management System in January 2017.
The professional development model is structured to recognise teachers and faculty for their technology success and initiatives. Teaching Staff are highlighted in the college’s internal news, provided access to conferences and are invited to present their learnings to peers and senior leadership. To solidify its success and staff engagement, the professional development framework is integrated into the college’s Professional Development Process. Staff can also be recognised through the college’s end of year Outstanding Contribution Achievement awards.
The professional development program was developed to ensure that staff are consistently integrated within the eLearning system. It begins when new staff are introduced into the college as part of the induction process.
The eLearning induction program trains new staff so they are able to deliver the same quality of class regardless of their time at the college or their teaching experience. Throughout the year, faculty has continuous access to professional objectives. The technology is giving teaching staff more time outside of class which allows time to apply for eLearning and blended learning research and innovation grants.
Student’s performance is forefront in staff development. The platform provides teaching staff with the tools needed to identify students who are not performing or interacting as expected.
The greatest measure of our accomplishment is the students’ classroom success and happiness, says Dr. Lokuge. Students are meeting performance and engagement goals and the CeLT is receiving praise from surveys and anecdotal feedback from students and staff. The success of the students lies firmly in the embracement of teaching staff with the blended and flipped classroom.
Dr. Lokuge credits the transformation success to the model. “It is so efficient and effective because of two reasons – getting everyone involved in the transformation journey and providing the resources to solve any problems.”
With the success of the college, it is hard to imagine a time when serving as a technology leader wasn’t the case. Dr. Lokuge comments, “The College was not using technology some years ago so when flipped and blended classrooms were introduced, staff were excited to try it.”
“Introducing the technology to faculty and staff was easy”, says Dr. Lokuge. The challenge was integrating technology that fit the classroom’s purpose and sustaining it. Dr. Lokuge credits
Blackboard for being a key partner with Monash College. “It has been a good partnership and has helped our relationship with others,” says Dr. Lokuge.
CeLT continues to seek out the best educational tools for their students and the best professional development opportunities for staff. “We have our eyes on what is happening outside and what’s next,” says Dr. Lokuge.
Dr. Lokuge and Monash College have no plans to stop. Taking the college to the next level requires a sustainable model. “This will allow us to go into a new phase of Monash College’s development”, says Dr. Lokuge. “Moving forward we have to ask how we can improve our student outcomes and teachers impact in the classroom.”
Dr. Kulari Lokuge, Associate Director of eLearning at Monash College Central eLearning Team (CeLT)
AFP Mal Fairdough