Abstract: The paper demonstrates and evaluates the effectiveness of a blended learning approach to create a meaningful learning environment. We use the term blended learning approach in this paper to refer to the use of multiple or hybrid instructional methods that emphasize the role of learners as contributors to the learning process rather than recipients of learning. Contribution to learning is attained by using in class gaming as pathways that ensure active involvement of learners. Using a blended learning approach is important in order to be able to address different learning styles of the target group. The approach was also important in order to be able to demonstrate different types of challenges, issues and competences needed in project management. Student evaluations of the course confirmed that the use of multiple learning methods and, in particular, in class gaming was beneficial and contributed to a meaningful learning experience.
Abstract: E-learning experiences are widely becoming common practice in many schools, tertiary institutions and other organisations. However despite this increased use of technology to enhance learning and the associated investment involved the result does not always equate to more engaged, knowledgeable and skilled learners. We have observed two key prevalences. The first is an ingrained, and often unquestioned, set of beliefs and expectations held by the majority of people who have experienced formal education, and who are involved in the development of eLearning and blended learning experiences. These beliefs tend to impact the overall design of what a blended type of learning experience might consist of. The second prevalence is for educational institutions to embark on large-scale eLearning developments, which by their scale can prove problematic. In part because it is a long time before the school or organisation sees any benefit and there is an up-front cost before any learning value is realised. In this paper we will be discussing our experiences of the implementation of a large-scale blended-learning project at Unitec, a tertiary institution in Aotearoa, New Zealand. Approaches taken to implement the development were iterative and based on a phased rollout, with each subsequent stage being informed by the ones before it. Our discussion draws on personal reflections associated with three different perspectives and a variety of roles during the three initial phases of the change making process. Our overall aim is to share our contextualised experiences, to add to the knowledge base on blended learning, and to provide some general, practical recommendations.
Abstract: This paper draws on an initiative where we experienced being new, radical, and, from some viewpoints, dangerously progressive at Unitec—a Polytechnic/Institute of Technology in Aotearoa, New Zealand. The initiative was driven by a need to improve student experiences of interdisciplinary learning and teaching, and to develop a common semester for students transitioning to a bachelor degree programme, as well as a new suite of interdisciplinary qualifications at postgraduate level. This discussion paper is situated within a self-study paradigm befitting educational contexts, by drawing on the reflective narratives of three participants who held a range of different roles—and, hence, perspectives within the change process. Interpretations and implications are discussed using the lens of the Inclusive Framework, to illustrate personal, professional, and political elements. Our overall aim is to add to current understandings of change within the higher education sector. However, this is a study of our own experiences and we are not making claims that we are in the possession of “truth”, but, rather, we seek to identify aspects that may have relevance in other contexts. We conclude that navigating the next phase of transformative change in our context will involve seeking resolutions to key emerging questions. This includes exploring notions of multiple innovators, creating agile development environments in education and exploring the concept of time as multifaceted.
Abstract: This project work addresses the crucial need to encourage undergraduate civil and environmental engineering students to gain employment skills and training right from the start of their studies so that their overall employability increases; their confidence level in networking with industry and within the workplace increases; and so that they are successfully able to obtain employment after finishing their studies. This initiative is a stepping-stone employability exercise which focuses specifically on first year students to help them engage with industry right from the start of their course. It is proposed that they would gain some realistic work experience both individually and as part of group within a virtual work environment using an action learning approach. The virtual environment used was based on SecondLife,a popular virtual reality programme. A pilot scheme was set up and run at Brunel University during the summer of 2014 using eight self-selecting first year students. The scheme’s outputs were extensively monitored and evaluated to assess its impact on the development of employability skills. This approach may prove a cost effective way of letting students gain an insight into the workplace whilst improving these skills. It may also prove a way for employers to select from a large range of students the best to actually undertake their real work-based internships.
Abstract: Inertial technology has been used in a wide range of applications such as guidance, navigation, and motion tracking. However, there are few undergraduate courses that focus on the inertial technology. Traditional inertial navigation systems (INS) and relevant testing facilities are expensive and complicated in operation, which makes it inconvenient and risky to perform teaching experiments with such systems. To solve this issue, this paper proposes the idea of using smartphones, which are ubiquitous and commonly contain off-the-shelf inertial sensors, as the experimental devices. A series of curriculum experiments are designed, including the Allan variance test, the calibration test, the initial leveling test and the drift feature test. These experiments are well-selected and can be implemented simply with the smartphones and without any other specialized tools. The curriculum syllabus was designed and tentatively carried out on 14 undergraduate students with a science and engineering background. Feedback from the students show that the curriculum can help them gain a comprehensive understanding of the inertial technology such as calibration and modeling of the sensor errors, determination of the device attitude and accumulation of the sensor errors in the navigation algorithm. The use of inertial sensors in smartphones provides the students the first-hand experiences and intuitive feelings about the function of inertial sensors. Moreover, it can motivate students to utilize ubiquitous low-cost sensors in their future research.
Abstract: I look at the changes in higher education (HE) and women’s lives over the last 50 years, drawing on my recent book Feminism, Gender & Universities: Politics, Passion & Pedagogies which is a life history of feminism entering academe. The Robbins Report (cmnd 2154 1963) on HE was published in the same year that I went to university. It inaugurated a process of change and educational expansion that was linked to other major social transformations, including feminism. Its effects have been widely felt such that women now participate in education and employment on unprecedented levels. Indeed, it has opened up opportunities for education and employment for women including individual and social mobility. From my study I show how it opened up opportunities for women from both middle class and working class backgrounds to be first-in-the-family to go to university. I will also argue that whilst there have been very welcome changes in education, and HE especially, such that there is a gender balance of undergraduate students in HE, this does not mean that gender equality has been achieved. Patriarchy or hegemonic masculinity in HE is still strongly felt and experienced despite women’s and feminist involvements in academe over the last 50 years. The question remains about how to transform universities to achieve genuine gender equality across all students and academics in HE.