By SHELLEY KINASH
Today’s air conditioners are often zoned. Through open and closed ducting, cool air is distributed where and when people need it. Metaphorically, what universities need to do now is rezone technology from the corporate to the learning and teaching ducts.
Only 63 per cent of responding undergraduate students and 60 per cent of coursework postgraduates believe their education is engaging. Only 63 per cent of undergraduate and 70 per cent of postgraduate alumni were satisfied with the teaching in their degrees.
Australian higher education could do much better if it rezoned its technology use. Most universities are currently dedicating significant resources to technologies that support their business functions. Promotional videos are produced to attract more students. Graphic design is used to produce professional annual reports. Systems and networks are rolled-out for human resource management and for reporting research productivity.
All of these are necessary functions, but are we zoning enough air to the core function, and stakeholders, of our universities – the teaching of our students?
Today’s learning technologies have the power to radically transform and amplify student achievement, engagement and industry application. It is unforgivable that so many students still spend most of their learning time at universities, whether on or off campus, being lectured-at.
Better application of learning technologies would mean replacing the apathy on both sides of the learning equation with non-passive resources and approaches such as visualisations, game-inspired case studies and industry-partnered curriculum videos.
The change is as simple as rezoning. Change the organisational structure and reallocate the budget lines so that the staff creatives are assigned to learning and teaching. This will ensure that universities distribute the learning oxygen to the students and thereby enable a future, digitally savvy, workforce.
Professor Shelley Kinash
Director, Advancement of Learning & Teaching
University of Southern Queensland