If you’ve ever despaired at the thought of lecturing to another theatre full of disengaged students, despair no more. A new approach to blended learning at UTS is empowering students to become active participants in the classroom - and equipping them to succeed in the future workplace.
Called learning.futures, this whole-of-university strategy combines the best of online and face-to-face learning. It brings together course curriculum, educational technologies and the transformed UTS campus to engage students with the professional experience, graduate skills and cutting-edge knowledge they need to succeed in a career landscape that's constantly evolving.
“learning.futures is simply a collection of evidence-based best practices in learning and teaching to support high quality learning outcomes,” says UTS Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education and Students) Professor Shirley Alexander, who was a leading contributor to the development of the strategy.
In practice, learning.futures bears scant resemblance to traditional approaches to university teaching. Gone are the days of overhead projectors, rote copying of notes and desks arranged in neat, sterile rows.
Instead, students have opportunities to engage with new material online first, to prepare before they come to class. The classes themselves are being conducted in purpose-built environments that inspire active and collaborative engagement in the learning process, and students participate in hands-on activities such as collaborative group work, case studies and role-plays.
“We think the future of education is where students only come onto campus for high-value learning opportunities that involve working with other people, so they build the soft skills that are in such great demand,” Alexander says.
“Staff are also supported to experiment with new teaching methods, and to use new tools and techniques to engage students in the learning process.”
learning.futures and the UTS Model of Learning provide a framework for the university’s commitment to a student learning experience which is practice-oriented , international and research-inspired. As a university-wide initiative, it’s driving change across all UTS courses and faculties.
The initiative has been recognised on the world stage: in 2015, learning.futures won the Hybrid Learning Innovation category of the Wharton-QS Stars Reimagine Education Awards in Philadelphia, known as 'the Oscars of education'.
Alexander says, "It is an extraordinary achievement to be considered the world leader in blended learning.
"There were more than 500 entries across 40 countries for about 10 award categories, so I think we can truly say that we are a world-leading university of technology.”
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