How our students learn
While the UTS Model of Learning guides what our students learn, the learning.futures strategy is all about how our students learn and what our teachers can do to support that learning.
Combining future-focused curriculum with informed technology use, and championing an approach to learning design that places students at the centre of the creative learning experience, learning.futures' ultimate aim is to produce graduates who are ready for the future of work.
Another current major learning and teaching project is the LX Transformation program, which is taking a whole-of-course design approach to transition of our university learning management system (LMS) from Blackboard to Canvas. Learning.futures is also embedded in this project.
UTS learning.futures: how our students learn video transcript
The UTS Model of Learning and our graduate attributes framework tell us what our students will be learning. Our learning strategy talks about how students will be learning. This diagram shows that in the future, students at UTS will experience the seamless integration of the best of online and face-to-face learning.
They'll still come onto campus. But they'll also be using a whole range of technologies to support their learning. Let's look now at learning from the perspective of the student. Students have particular learning goals. And they need to be able to access ideas and content.
But before coming onto campus, they should be accessing the enormous volume of resources that are available as open education resources that might watch a video from a mooc. They'll use their laptops and mobile devices to access other e-learning resources.
Perhaps they'll watch content-rich videos from iTunes U, YouTube, TED-Ed, the Khan Academy. They'll also read books and journal articles. And they'll access our library database to find peer-reviewed information. And then they'll come onto campus where they'll go into one of our new collaborative classrooms.
And in there, they'll engage in high quality interactive learning experiences that make use of the content that they have already engaged with. The next part of our learning strategy looks at the ways in which students will make sense of the information they've engaged with to test out their ideas.
And they should be undertaking some form of activity that helps them bring together that loose collection of ideas to create meaning. They might do a laboratory experiment. Or they might make a model in architecture. They might design something-- some kind of activity that helps them link the theory and practice.
They might do a group work project. They might talk with a learning mentor. They might talk with their tutors. They might go out to industry and undertake a work-based learning project or an internship or a cadetship. And hopefully, they'll also have an opportunity to travel, because that's a very important part of our UTS Model of Learning that we prepare our students to work in a global environment.
The next part of this learning journey is for the students to get feedback on their actions. Performing an action without feedback is a bit of a waste of time. So they might get feedback via UTSOnline just from talking to their tutor. Or they might get feedback from Twitter, Facebook, or Skype.
Hopefully, they'll also have access to a personal learning network that might be face to face, or it might be online. The final part of their learning journey is to reflect on what it is they understood. What they did to try out those ideas. What the feedback was. And, therefore, how they might change their current understanding.
Hopefully, they'll sit and think. But they also might write a blog. Or they might write a reflective essay, and thus, complete the learning cycle.
How do we create engaging student learning experiences?
- we design curriculum that integrates creativity, innovation and technology — to create inspiring learning experiences for students
- we promote innovation in learning — empowering teaching staff to integrate the best of online and face-to-face experience
- we enable students to engage with new ideas online before class — so that they can benefit from active and collaborative experiences in innovative learning spaces on campus
- we implement evidence-based good practice in teaching and learning — to promote interactive, engaging and personal learning experiences for our students
- we embed work-integrated learning, internships and transdisciplinary learning outcomes, along with authentic assessments — to give our students the skills needed to succeed in the workplace
Video: learning.futures for UTS students.
UTS is in the centre of Sydney, in the heart of its cultural and creative hub.
You’ll be studying at a campus that’s been designed to help you develop the skills you’ll need for your future career.
UTS has been re-created to provide you with a "campus of the future” designed to enhance your experience at University and help shape the way you'll be learning.
Our physical and virtual University environment has been designed to create an intellectually and socially vibrant educational experience with the objective of providing you with creative and inspired learning focusing on developing the knowledge, skills, capabilities and attributes you’ll need in your future career.
At UTS, we focus on preparing you for professional practice, this means that, as well as learning the knowledge and skills needed in your field of study, you’ll also be acquiring other attributes important for you to succeed professionally.
You may find that learning at UTS happens in ways that are different from what you’ve previously experienced.
You'll be coming to class to collaborate with other students. You might be investigating issues or solving real world problems and, to make the most of your class time. You’ll often be asked to prepare before you come. You'll have some lectures and you'll also participate in many other forms of learning such as debates, simulations and groupwork projects.
Some of these will be face-to-face, and others, online.
You'll discover new spaces in our campus which have been designed to enable this new kind of learning like collaborative theatres, groupwork spaces, interactive high-tech pods, and learning commons where you can study alone or with others. You'll find that at university learning isn’t just about collecting facts. More and more it’s about being able to respond to tasks and challenges and finding solutions as well as learning to think critically.
It's about working with others, as well as working with technology. And about learning how to seek out the best quality and most up-to-date information from a huge range of sources.
You'll learn how to navigate the evolving digital world.
You'll find that at UTS it's not all exams and essays there are different ways that you’ll be assessed.
You'll discover that success is also about making personal and professional networks at UTS that will last you a lifetime.
The more you get involved in what UTS has to offer the more you'll benefit.
And there's a lot to get involved in.
You'll need to be working right from the start towards getting that great job, so it's worth knowing a little bit more about what your future employer is looking for.
The grades you achieve over the course of your degree rank only 4th on the list of what employers are looking for.
The number one thing employers look for are strong interpersonal skills and the ability to communicate.
They want to see that you can speak and write well and relate to others.
Second most important is your drive, passion and commitment to the industry that you’ll be joining.
That's partly what you know, but it's mostly about your attitude.
Third on the list are your technical, analytical and problem-solving skills. The way you think and reason.
So while grades are definitely important, they're not the only thing that will get you a job or advance your career in the long term.
Helen Bobbitt: I would say the academic and the GPA is a small part of a candidate’s application. So we’re looking to see that candidates are involved in things outside of their academic studies to show that they’ve built other skills.
Daniel Lacey: In terms of skills that we look for we look for team work, that’s a huge one in consultancy. You need to be able to work with others across all different levels.
Andrew Smith: Flexibility and adaptability is an important attribute also.
Natasha Reddrop: People’s interpersonal skills are very important. We are looking at people’s ability to work in a team environment.
Rebecca Jenkins: We focus on students that knows technology, are really passionate about what they do. We focus on working really closely with internships with UTS.
You'll be utilizing the skills and professionalism that you develop at UTS.
And all of those skills and attributes will be just as important to those graduates who’ll be the entrepreneurs of the future, who'll create their own jobs or businesses.
At UTS we're here to support you to create the future that you want...
It starts with you. You at UTS!
Behind learning futures: Reimagining learning at UTS
learning.futures was introduced to UTS in 2014. As UTS began work on a reimagined physical campus — a suite of billion-dollar buildings to support an expanding future-focused university — learning.futures was tasked with reimagining the learning spaces in these new buildings.
Move over 'traditional university', with standard lecture theatres and 'sage on the stage' teaching. When the doors opened to these new buildings, the facilities inside were technology-enabled collaborative spaces, group work pods, informal study hang-outs, and the aptly named 'Super Lab'.
The new learning spaces, combined with a range of learning.futures inspired pedagogical changes, would transform the way our students learned and how our teaching staff facilitated that learning — learning that would be collaborative, future-focused and student centred.
learning.futures continues to guide UTS's approach to teaching and learning. To create a campus where UTS students, staff and industry partners come together, in the physical and online worlds, to co-create learning experiences that ultimately prepare our students for the future of work.
We welcome you to join us on that journey.
View some of our re-imagined spaces:
- Dr Chau Chak Wing Building
- Faculty of Engineering and IT Building
- Faculty of Science and Graduate School of Health Building
- UTS Future Library and Library Retrieval System
- Faculty of Design, Architecture and Built Environment building
Learn more: Making a Place for Curricular Transformation at the University of Technology Sydney [external link] explores the transformation of our campus and pedagogical approach.
The results and international recognition
UTS's learning.futures strategy won the Hybrid Learning Innovation category of the 2015 Wharton-QS Stars Reimagine Education Awards in Philadelphia. Dubbed the 'Oscars' of higher education awards, the competition comprised of over 500 entries from 40 countries competing for just 10 awards. What's more, US-based higher education think tank Ithaka believes that there is much to learn from learning.futures at UTS.
Read the Case Study.
Student Experience Survey
The outcomes of the learning.futures strategy are evidenced in the results of the national University Experience Survey, a survey where UTS students rank their university experience. Since introducing learning.futures, the focus area of learner engagement has statistically ranked significantly higher than the Australian average.
The Student Experience Survey results have seen an improvement in students experience of the below items. All items grew from 'High Importance / Low Performance (2007), to 'High Importance / High Performance' (2012).
- There are sufficient spaces for me to use my laptop on campus
- There are sufficient quiet places to study on campus
- There are adequate spaces on campus for me to work with other students on group assignments
- My classes are held well-equipped lecture theatres, classrooms and other learning areas
learning.futures table: then and now
So how exactly is learning.futures practices different? The below table outlines the ways that learning has shifted at UTS as a result of learning.futures.
|EARLIER WAYS||LEARNING.FUTURES PRACTICES|
|LEARNING AT UTS||Practice-oriented learning||UTS Model of Learning: practice-oriented, global and research-inspired|
|WHAT IS IMPORTANT||What students know||What students can do with what they know and how they do it|
|SUBJECT DESIGN||Dot point list of content||Linking 'what students can do with what they know' to objectives, learning activities and assessment|
|GRADUATE ATTRIBUTES||Largely not identified or included||Faculty or course-specific attributes identified, embedded and assessed|
|LEARNING ACTIVITIES||Primarily lectures, with tutorials, labs or studios with UTSOnline||Best of online learning combined with best of face-to-face collaborative learning with UTSOnline engagement|
|LEARNING RESOURCES||Notes from class, readings from Library and textbooks||Podcasts, screencasts, YouTube, Open Education Resources, online learning resources, readings and digital resources from Library, social media and text books|
|ON-CAMPUS LEARNING EXPERIENCE||Primarily lectures and tutorials, strucured labs, individual studios||Primarily collaborative learning activities. Some lectures/guest presentations, inquiry-based and research labs and studios|
|OFF-CAMPUS LEARNING EXPERIENCE||Assignments, studying for exams, UTSOnline engagement||Engaging in "real life" experiences including work placements, community projects, competitions. Preparing for on-campus learning, including engaging with podcast, online material, pre-readings, online tutorial, group work, doing assignments, undertaking research|
|ASSESSMENT||"What can you remember?"||"What can you do with what you have learned?" Authentic assessment tasks that develop graduate attributes.|
|FEEDBACK||Lecturer and tutor feedback on completed work||Diagnostic feedback. "Benchmarking" and discussion of criteria. Feedback on draft work. Lecturer, tutor and peer feedback. Self-assessment and reflection.|
|TRANSITION TO UNIVERSITY||Orientation before week 1, peer support||Orientation. Transition activities in faculties prior to the session. Transition activities in subjects in week 1 and support during the session. Numerous "First Year Experience" project outcomes, peer support.|