Learning.futures is the UTS initiative committed to innovating the way students learn and what our teachers can do to support that learning. By 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.
How do we achieve this?
- 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
Learning.futures table: The then and now
So how are learning.futures practices different? The table below explains the then and now.
|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.|
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
Making a Place for Curricular Transformation at the University of Technology Sydney [extrenal link] explores the transformation of our campus and pedagogical approach.
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 in sufficient, well-equipped lecture theatres, classrooms and other learning areas
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.
Flipped learning: In the ‘flipped education’ model, rather than attending lectures, students access digital resources and undertake preliminary tasks prior to coming to classes where they engage in collaborative, mentored activities. Melissa Edwards explains the benefits of using video in the flipped classroom [opens in YouTube].
Open education resources (OER): The increasing development of open, digital libraries enables students to engage with extensive educational resources and tutorials in different fields, from anywhere, at anytime, and often in a rich media format. Such resources enable students to access diverse ideas, and test their understandings of key concepts.
MOOCs: Globally, there are a growing number of initiatives in digital education (such as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) or KhanAcademy) that enable students to access free online courses and to participate in interactive, peer-to-peer learning. MOOC environments include edX, Coursera and Udacity.
Teaching and learning strategies: Higher education teachers are embracing technologies and using online platforms to introduce different learning opportunities for their students.
UTS's Connected Intelligence Centre (CIC) was launched in August 2014 to advance learning.futures through the use of Learning Analytics.
CIC’s analytics specialists work are here to work closely with faculty and academic literacy staff to invent, pilot and evaluate new ways of providing rapid formative feedback to learners, designed to nurture qualities such as critical thinking, deep reflection and growth mindsets — the higher order graduate attributes needed to thrive in a complex, data-saturated society.
- Academic Writing Analytics draw students’ attention to key academic transitions in analytical or reflective writing
- Learning Power profiles provide a visual language for students to reflect on and build their agency and resilience
Want to find out how their analytic tools could help you design your learner experience? Get in touch with the CIC team.