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It’s February 2021, and we’ve all done lots and lots of reflecting back to 2020, on how everything has changed, how COVID transformed the world, probably for good. And while it’s possibly a bit cliché and tiring by now, it’s still nearly impossible to not reference the pandemic in any topic of discussion—and like a breath of fresh air, sometimes there’s a positive spin on it, when it comes to the topic of the ‘accidental positives’ or silver linings the super virus has triggered on its path of disruption. One such silver lining is the collaborative initiative of the School of Culture, History & Language (CHL) and the Digital Education Services (DES) to adapt teaching methodologies and online learning in rapid time, when it was needed more than ever before. The experience, though propounded by urgency, has built the momentum to exploring and establishing pathways to new and innovative means of digital education.
The DES team, a vital and integral part of the College of Asia & the Pacific (CAP), was instrumental in ensuring that over the past year, and also going into the future, CHL and the CAP are able to successfully rise to the challenge of delivering online teaching to students studying off campus or overseas. According to integral DES team member Steve Mottlee, “The quality of ANU teaching was maintained and further enhanced with use of the technologies made available to academics who were continually supported by DES team. By effectively giving support and assistance to all academics and enabling them to quickly transition their courses to online modes of delivery the DES team proved to be a group of people whose dedication and work mission benefitted CHL, CAP and ANU greatly.”
According to DES team leader Ricky Vuckovic, “We have such a wonderful diversity of talent and life experience in the team that helps us to explore creative new ways of using technology to support education. I’m really proud of the whole team in how we've assisted our college in the rapid shift to remote and hybrid learning. CHL and DES have been collaborating on digital learning initiatives for years, and in many ways the School was much more prepared than others for fully remote learning as a result. All of us in the DES team are keen to continue the positive momentum in exploring, promoting, and supporting high-quality digital learning activities and experiences.”
So, let’s meet the team that largely worked behind the scenes on stage the most chaotic and demanding production of last year…
The team epitomises great diversity of background and skill and yet works collectively like a well-oiled unit. Each team member complements each other's attributes, while providing services in a broad range of inspirational educational development techniques used for online and hybrid teaching, as well as educational technology services for our academic colleagues at CHL.
Ricky Vuckovic has led the DES team in a wide range of innovations that have benefitted CHL and CAP. This included building academics’ confidence in the creation of pre-recorded learning materials, online interaction, creative remote assessment, as well as the use of live dual-delivery methods of teaching.
Ethan Zhang has built a strong rapport with staff at CHL by assisting academics with course design and online activities on the Guroo Producer project. This project developed various digital learning techniques that have facilitated academics significantly in the teaching of their language courses.
Steven Mottlee brings such diversity of education and course design experience to the DES team. As a former Lecturer in Music Education at the University of Canberra, Steven has a clear understanding of the pedagogical approaches to course design, and is widely appreciated in CAP for the assistance he gives to academics. He is particularly valued for the support he gives to those who may have varying levels of previous experience in using online education programs. Steven instils confidence to create new and interesting methods of teaching online using the tools available in Moodle and other software programs.
Dr. Sven Erlic has a broad academic and teaching experience with a background in history and philosophy. Sven brings this wealth of knowledge to support inspiring and effective online course creation. “Looking at building online courses from both a technical perspective, as well as from an academic and teaching perspective, gives a great balance to problem solving in creating interesting and engaging teaching methods and techniques.”
Dr. Yuki Itani-Adams has been assisting in the development of online materials and activities in less commonly taught languages, particularly in supporting the development of the online Tok Pisin courses.
Thanh Nguyen has been developing the online Vietnamese language courses. He develops Wattle materials and e-books that offer a range of interesting interactive language instruction activities through the ANU Learning Management System.
Daishi Adams brings to the team his insightfulness and many talents in problem solving of IT and Wattle issues, and in the effective management of mobile technology equipment. Daishi engages academics through effective training in new and interesting technologies.
DES is always looking to expand the horizons of teaching and learning by assisting academics to use a range of technologies. In the pipeline for the future are further utilising interactive software such as Poll Everywhere, Padlet, and other methods of engaging students in the learning process.
We all hope there won’t be another year like 2020. That said, one can seek solace in the idea that teams like DES are on standby to keep the learning alive even in the face of adversity.