Projects

The Digital Futures Team (DFT) are involved in many exciting projects across Western. We have included a snapshot of these below.

Current DFT Projects


Emerging Policies

The Senate Education sub-committee LaTTe (opens in a new window), chaired by Digital Futures representatives, is developing new policies and guidelines around producing multimedia, using technologies that are scalable and sustainable, capturing key content, and new digital assessment practices.

Assessment

Digital assessment is an evolving field with a growing body of evidence supporting the efficacy and authenticity of utilising digital tools to enhance feedback and student engagement. A shift is taking place from summative (traditional, high stakes) exams to embedded formative feedback systems. This change forms a significant transition from the testing of retained knowledge and an ability to deal with exam stress, to effective applications of skills and demonstrations of competency. While many e-proctoring (digital) solutions exist, they are costly and ultimately not foolproof.

The PVC Digital Futures (opens in a new window), in his capacity as Chair of Senate Assessment Committee, is leading a review of current practices with a view to using emergent technologies to encourage students to better demonstrate learning outcomes through authentic, scalable assessment at the University.

WSU Online

The DFT oversee WSU Online to deliver a high-touch student engagement and support model in an advanced digital environment. Key elements of our dedicated online model include:

  • Learning science and instructional design support is provided to our academic staff to maximise the potential of the courses or units to attract and engage students;
  • We ensure materials conform to best practices for accessibility and cognitive load management for all learners;
  • All assessments are reviewed to maximise efficacy in an online modality;
  • Immediate, corrective feedback and student support services are provided to all participants;
  • Evidence of key tenets of intrinsic (student) motivation are built into the course or unit;
  • The Quality Matters (QM) rubric is applied to provide a quantified benchmark for our own online development work.

Adaptive Learning

Adaptive learning is an approach to delivering personalised instruction at scale using purpose-built learning technologies. In an adaptive learning environment aspects of the online environment dynamically adjust for each student user to optimise individual learning.

The Digital Futures Team are leading adaptive learning initiatives in domains of readiness for university study. Students, particularly first in family, newly arrived and non-native speakers, often struggle with basic literacies and have the added cognitive and emotional load of trying to understand a new environment and in many cases a new country. DFT are piloting an adaptive, user-friendly, intrinsically motivating, bespoke platform in collaboration with Library literacy staff to enhance student literacies with a planned extension to numeracy.

Cortex - The new vUWS template

Cortex Logo 2
Blackboard (vUWS) course and unit development will be supported with new templates providing consistency and best-of-breed UX/LX (User-Learner Experience) design. These templates will be developed based on the pilot work already carried out by DFT staff, building on previous school-based work in the School of Humanities and Communication Arts.

In units where instructors will be managing their own materials, these templates will support basic content loading and training will be provided in online community development and key elements of online instruction. For courses or units deemed to be priority/high impact, we will present an overview of support including professional rendering of instructor content and discussions around assessment and engagement strategies that will fully support students in their time away from the physical classroom space. For more information on Cortex, please visit the website.

Learning Analytics

Technology clearly has a role to play in the review of analytical data reflecting student behaviour. Most of this technology is already in place at the University but has lacked elaboration of the rationale and the potential use of findings.

At Western we will combine LMS data with expert unit reviews using the Quality Matters rubric, and triangulating with student survey data and key information generated by the Office of Quality and Performance. This combination of data provides a rich picture of the student experience which can be used to enhance materials and to provide evidence-based guidance for what works (and doesn’t) in technology-enabled learning.

Quality Matters

The Quality Matters Rubrics are comprised of general and specific review standards that are research-supported and based on published best practices. The Office of Quality and Performance is supporting this initiative to enable the University to quantify course design standards and create a replicable peer-review process that will:
  • Train and empower faculty to evaluate courses against these standards;
  • Provide guidance for improving the quality of courses;
  • Certify the quality of online and blended college courses across institutions.

The Office of the PVC Digital Futures has supported the QM training of over 30 individuals across all schools and related offices.