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The Connected University: Technology’s Transformative Role in enabling Student Learning and Graduate Employability Outcomes

  Tuesday, 21 February 2017


Deakin Downtown, Level 12, Tower 2, 727 Collins Street, Melbourne


11.30am – 2.30pm

The Connected University

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Is the increased use of technology (i.e. the connected university) enabling better student learning and graduate employability outcomes? This was the theme for this roundtable and it couldn’t have been more timely as Australia transitions its economy.

B/HERT, Dimension Data/Oakton/Ellucian, and Deakin University co-presented a roundtable focusing on how technology and digital platforms can assist in achieving better outcomes for all stakeholders i.e. students, graduates, universities, employers and technology companies.

BACKGROUND: Technology is having a profound effect in shaping higher education services and course delivery (e.g. ‘nano tutors’). The rise of online education platforms available to anyone anywhere has opened up opportunities for many potential students and has required universities to review their operations.

Digital platforms have generated the need for major change within universities affecting all of its activities - research, teaching and community engagement. Modern infrastructure requiring new skills are transforming universities, their services, and redefining the workplace for all university staff.

Just as the educational environment is now equipped with a technological overlay, the 21st C student population enter university having grown up in a digital world. Technology has played a central role for these students at school and as part of their extracurricular activities. Distinctions between on and off campus study are becoming more blurred as technology software is now available for universities to coordinate teaching activities (learning management systems), incorporate flipped and blended modalities supporting ‘active’ learning, and support student learning where online course materials adjust to the student (adaptive learning).

Accompanying this transformation is the new frontiers of Deep Learning (neural networks) being explored by technology behemoths such as Google, Microsoft and Baidu. It is early days but what impact this field will have on digital pedagogy should become clear over the next five years.

The issues under discussion for this roundtable were whether the application of technology is facilitating new learning models and leading to more successful employment outcomes for new graduates. The real challenge for universities is how they adapt and evolve to the changing needs of the ‘always-connected’ student.

Specifically, the round table focussed on –

  • whether university education programmes are aligned to students’ expectations of ‘digital engagement’
  • how universities are better serving student needs through the integration of technology
  • the impact of technology on learning models, course structure and employment outcomes • how technology impacts on skills development, particularly the non-academic skills (e.g. interpersonal/communication, values, EQ and problem solving) that employers are seeking; and • using technology as part of a life-long learning approach
  • the rationale must be made that these developments are educationally sound and value laden for students, universities and employers.

Learnings impacting connectivity.

T 1 where, how and when to learn has no boundaries

T 2 blended learning is the accepted and preferred learning modality

T 3 blended learning provides more white space for critical thinking, creativity and skills development

T 4 digital engagement reflects today’s more common work practices

T 5 digital engagement supports just-in-time resourcing, student learning and feedback

T 6 digital platforms facilitate student analytics

T 7 institutional differentiation is in part based on the student experience

T 8 business and industry have a role to play in any educational technology developments that lead to better student outcomes re contextual learning and employment readiness

SESSION LEADERS included: Prof Beverley Oliver, Deputy Vice-Chancellor-Education Deakin University; Wes Sonnenreich, Co-founder and CEO Intersective; Brendon Trezise, Director-Services Integration Oakton; Andrew Belger, Vice President Asia-Pacific Ellucian; Prof John Yearwood, Head-School of Information Technology Deakin University; Dr Linda Corrin, Senior Lecturer, Williams Centre for Learning Advancement University of Melbourne.


The agenda can be downloaded here.

Read opening comments from Christopher Goldsworthy (Assistant Executive Director, BHERT) here

See presentation slides by Dr Linda Corrin (Senior Lecturer, Williams Centre for Learning Advancement, University of Melbourne) here.

See presentation slides by Josephine Dwan (PhD Candidate, Deakin University) here.  

Read notes by Josephine Dwan (PhD Candidate, Deakin University) here.  

See presentation slides from Prof John Yearwood here.

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