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Tipping Point? We Passed The Edge Five Minutes Ago! A Report from the Front Lines of Implementing A Large Scale, High Engagement Model of Online Teaching and Learning At CSU

Dr Lindy Cro -Piggin,
Mrs Michelle Wilkinson, Mr Gerard Bourke

Charles Sturt University

For many busy academics with huge teaching and research workloads, being asked to ‘innovate their teaching’ can become the tipping point. We’ll share what we’ve learnt about how to move teaching and learning innovation from the ‘edge’ of an academic’s thinking to an important part of their practice, by exploring the importance of professional relationships between academics and educational designers in a project implementing a model of best practice in online learning.

In 2015 Charles Sturt University (CSU) set out to ‘reimagine’ what a distinctive CSU online teaching and learning offering would look like as part of a broader strategic renewal process across CSU. One of the key outcomes of this process was the development of an ‘Online Learning Model’ (OLM) which articulated best practice in online learning. Drawing on research and literature relating to distance and online education, the CSU Online Learning Model’ has subsequently been implemented over three years in 120 subjects and it forms the basis for a large scale implementation across the university.

A mixed method evaluation of the project has found student engagement was increased and the student perception of quality correlated with the presence of the elements in the model. Both staff and students identified enhanced teacher presence and quality digital resources as key elements of the online teaching and learning experience. The evaluation of the OLM Project to date has identified the elements themselves as both useful and vital in informing

a reimagined and enhanced online teaching and learning experience, as well as highlighting the need to consider broader factors such as resourcing, staff skill levels and familiarity with technologies and online teaching and learning pedagogies. Understanding how to acknowledge and address these constraints is a significant development in operationalising the OLM as a process for teaching and learning innovation. The need for personalised academic support, sensitive to individual skills, and pedagogical preferences highlights the complexity of a large scale quality improvement project in teaching and learning.