For Dr. Kulari Lokuge, associate director of eLearning at Monash College, the pedagogical approach taken by the Central eLearning Team (CeLT) has facilitated the team’s support in the delivery of high quality pre-university courses. With the creation of professional development opportunities within the college, staff are also making steadfast progress through technology-enhanced learning and teaching.
At Monash College, completing academic and English language programs represent an 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’s for this reason that online, flipped, and blended learning play a key role.
Dr. Lokuge explains that Monash College’s education model seeks to ensure that digital teaching tools are incorporated into all courses and are inclusive of language and subject-specific domains. However, she insists that pedagogy must precede technology, and that the starting point for any successful technology-enhanced learning strategy is having a team with clear goals and understanding of institutional objectives, as well as the impact that the technology will have on their students’ lives. “Our eLearning team helps resolve key issues related to pedagogy that teachers face every day through educational technology.”
Regarding the process of connecting teachers to digital tools and adapting to new technologies Dr. Lokuge said, “There are those who want to try new things and do everything differently – they are the first ones who will try new ideas. The rest come onboard when they see things done and understand the benefits.”
Form and Content Changes
Dr. Lokuge’s team prides itself on the progressive way in which the customization of the Blackboard Open LMS themes have been implemented. “What once looked like a repository for information and documents, now looks like a modern website. That alone encourages students and teachers to use it.” The new themes have a modern look and a mobile-friendly interface which invites students to access Blackboard Open LMS 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 in turn encourages teachers to continue developing and personalizing them.
Nevertheless, it’s important to emphasize that it is 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 continuesly thinking about how things can be improved,” says Dr. Lokuge.
Evolution and personalization are key drivers in the college’s eLearning strategy. With channels for continuous review and reflection, the eLearning team, along with the teachers’ support, is constantly evaluating processes and decisions in order to deliver high-quality educational standards that engage and energize both students and faculty.
Dr. Lokuge considers the learning experience to be a journey, from the very first week to the last. “In this journey, the student learning experience is considered one of the most important aspects, which is in constant evaluation and transformation towards making the learning experience valuable.”
Being a Blackboard client allows Monash College to maintain open conversation with their technology partner, which is an essential component 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, as we’re the ones with the experiential role, while the technology partner can advance the technology. If the conversation isn’t continuous, we could be working in opposite directions. Together, we make it happen.”
The community that promotes Blackboard Open LMS Enterprise is advanced in the use of learning management systems, and this relationship, along with open communication channels, allows us the college to reach a higher level of personalization in its platforms.
For Dr. Lokuge, aligning the whole team with the same vision is at the core of every successful process. In her opinion, it is about being able to change lives through education and the tools available today.
*Dr. Kulari Lokuge, Associate Director of eLearning at Monash College.
*Photos by: AFP Mal Fairclough