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What a Scale Transition to Block Mode has done for Digital Literacy

Miss Miriam Bennett,
Sam Rickard

Victoria University

In Feb 2018, a er just 9 months preparation, Victoria University moved every first year unit to block mode: no lectures or exams, just 4500 students in small classes completing one unit at a time over 4 weeks. It’s an example of what can be achieved when everyone, academics, senior leadership, central services, timetabling and student services, works towards an institutional goal.

The press has reported the impact of the block mode in terms of increased student retention and pass rates, but a lot more has been happening. Whilst with the block mode, the focus has moved squarely to face-to-face teaching and active learning, staff digital literacy, and technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPCK) has increased. Despite huge institutional change in 2018, LMS help desk queries have decreased for both students and staff by 25% and staff are reporting confidence in their TPCK. In this paper we scrutinise available datasets including the 2018 JISC digital online tracker, ITS and Learning Environments helpdesk queries and first year survey responses to measure the change in staff digital literacy and TPCK during the first year of the block mode.

We examine the data against the changes to support and teaching procedures which the move to block mode precipitated. These include: radical compulsory unit redesign involving a team of academics, learning designers, students, faculty leadership, librarians and student support; rapid iteration of units (up to 10 blocks per year); automation of LMS related administrative tasks (site creation, content copy and grades return from LMS to SMS) and a switch from LMS training sessions to 100% one-on-one, just-in- time on site and on line support.

None of the above processes or indeed the increase in digital literacy observed, would have been possible without the overarching institutional goal to work toward: transition all first year units to block mode.

 (A copy of this presentation is unfortunately not available).