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FAQs: Learning and teaching in 2021

Published: 10th November 2020

Do you have a question about learning and teaching in 2021? Read on below to find out more.

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What is the university’s approach to learning and teaching 2021?

From 2021 onwards, the University is extending our student-centred approach to learning. This means you will have plenty of opportunities for hands-on, face-to-face learning where you get to apply your knowledge and skills alongside your peers and teachers.

Increasingly, this face-to-face learning will be supported and extended by high-quality online learning activities that help you prepare for and reflect on your face-to-face classes on campus.

This flexible online learning component will also allow you to better manage your time, so you have more choice over when and where you engage with lecture content in a way that best suits you and allows you and your teachers to make the most of your time on campus.

You can also watch our helpful video to find out more about this flexible learning model.

Is the University getting rid of face-to-face lectures?

Over previous years, the University has already moved away from face-to-face lectures in about half of its units. Over the next 18 months, the remaining face-to-face lectures will gradually be replaced with more flexible online options where possible.

This decision isn’t about ‘getting rid’ of lectures – you will still have access to all the same subject material, now just in a variety of formats accessible to you when you need them.

This means whether you have children to support, work a part-time or full-time job, you’re a carer, you travel from outer suburbs, you’re an international or interstate student who still can’t enter Western Australia, or you just can’t commit to an on-campus lecture every week – you’ll receive the same learning experience as your classmates. But, in your own time.

This flexibility will also allow you to better engage with industry through opportunities such as work integrated learning, industry placements and internships.  Importantly, your time on our beautiful campuses can be used for rich engagement in your classes, critical discussions, problem-based learning and applied thinking, as well as the many extracurricular activities available to you.

Why was this decision made?

The University intends to deliver the most meaningful and effective learning model to benefit all students. The decision to move away from face-to-face lectures has been based on a number of factors, including research on how adults learn, past student behaviour and attendance patterns, and the wide range of student feedback we have received.

The most recent feedback noted that online learning provided flexibility for students to study at their own pace and to schedule their learning around their other commitments, such as work and family.

Based on the unit survey we ran after the move to online learning in Semester 1, 2020, over 80% of students indicated they felt supported in the online environment and agreed online resources and activities were helping them to learn. The feedback also suggested that the learning students missed most was in labs, studios and clinics where students have a chance to apply the knowledge they have gained.

In previous years, we have already seen many of our units move away from lectures to more flexible models of learning, as students expressed a desire to making learning more accessible no matter where they were located.

Support is available to help you navigate online lectures and online learning. You can contact myMurdoch Advice on campus or email them at advice@murdoch.edu.au.

We also offer a wide range of online support options and tips for studying from home, which can be accessed at the Learning from Home website.

Are any other universities doing this?

Many universities have transitioned to a range of blended learning models over the last decade, including the model Murdoch is now implementing.

In Western Australia, two other universities have indicated they will be changing towards a similar model in 2021.

You may have noticed that several disciplines within Murdoch have already moved away from including lectures in your contact time, opting for more collaborative face-to-face options like tutorials, workshops, labs and clinics.

Flexible online learning also allows you to participate in work integrated learning, internships and placement activities which are critical to authentic learning and to manage the other important parts of your life such as work and family.

How will I know what is happening in my units for next year?

There are some instances where the face-to-face lecture format will continue for now, for example during on-campus intensives, when lectures have less than 100 students enrolled or have been the only face-to-face learning activity in a unit, particularly in Criminology and some Law units. These will continue in 2021 to give the disciplines time to transition to the new model.

These lectures may be reimagined as large workshops, and for some units this will mean more contact time in smaller classes.

Many of our units, particularly in Nursing, Business and Education, have already replaced lectures with other activities. The units that remain will continue the transition in 2021. There will be a range of ways you can engage with your unit content and these will vary by discipline.

We advise you to check the teaching timetable for Semester 1, 2021 to see if your units will require any face-to-face lectures.

When will I know the times of my classes / online classes / lectures?

We advise you to check the teaching timetable for Semester 1, 2021 to see your class options. Class sign up will open in January; this date will be communicated by email once confirmed.

I find it hard to listen to lectures online due to language / accessibility, what can I do?

We have upgraded our recording platform (Echo360) to include a variety of useful tools, like turning on subtitles for recordings. These can be downloaded along with the recording or as a searchable transcript, so you can look for keywords when revising.

Echo360 Live webcasting now also supports adaptive bitrate streaming, so users with poor internet connections will get a lower bandwidth stream or download.

Podcast – sound only options – are also available. These are great if you are travelling in to campus on public transport.

Support is available to help you navigate online lectures and online learning. You can contact myMurdoch Advice on campus or email them at advice@murdoch.edu.au

If you have a disability or medical condition impacting your online studies, our accessibility advisors can provide resources and support: access@murdoch.edu.au, 9360 6084 or on campus 460.1.009

Will other classes be online?

Other classes such as tutorials, workshops and labs will continue to run on campus, in accordance with COVID-safe distancing and hygiene practices.

Online class options will be available in most cases, except where the learning and assessment experiences cannot be replicated in an online environment, for students who cannot attend campus.

What does this mean for campus life?

Murdoch has a beautiful campus on South Street and student attendance on campus makes this a vibrant and positive experience.

There are lots of reasons to continue to come to campus, including attending your face-to-face and specialist classes, studying in the library, engaging with our student services, completing group work, hanging out with friends in the Student Hub, using the gym or catching up on sleep on the Bush Court beanbags. The Student Guild will continue to run a range of activities and events throughout the year that are designed for you to feel a part of the Murdoch community.

To make sure we get it right from the start of 2021, the University is running a student-led project on campus life so that the services and activities provided for you are the ones you really want. This project will begin after the Semester 2, 2020 final assessment period is complete and will involve employing a number of students in a core group who will draw on the views and experiences of other students to inform the future of campus life.

How are staff being supported to engage with this transition?

This move was promoted by the University’s Education senior leaders and has been communicated to all staff. We are always looking for new ways to offer our world-class teaching and learning support in a contemporary, flexible and engaging way.

This year, our highly skilled educators have completed significant personal development, learning to upskill and specialise in delivering engaging online learning. Over the next 18 months as we transition, we will continue to support our teaching staff to find the best ways to engage you in learning online with expert guidance from online learning specialists.

We are also engaging with students to make sure your point of view is included as we enhance our technology enhanced learning and the LMS site design. This project will employ and train a group of students to provide practical support to academic staff and communicate with their peers. This project will begin early in 2021.

For more information on the coming employment opportunities for students, keep an eye out on the myMurdoch student portal.