Student views on virtual infrastructure canvassed for Flex-AP project

October 16 / 187

The University has consulted with students on their virtual infrastructure (or technology) preferences, as part of the ongoing Flex-AP project, led by Pro Vice-Chancellor (Educational Innovation) Professor Gregor Kennedy.

Flex-AP – The Flexible Academic Programming project – is a whole of university initiative considering a range of challenges facing the University in providing high quality education in the 21st century.

Professor Kennedy says one work stream of the project, Harnessing Virtual Infrastructure (HVI), is considering how we currently use technology to support teaching, learning and assessment, what we want to be doing pedagogically in the future, and thinking through how we can organise our teaching and learning systems to support this.

Surveys of the technology practices and ambitions of both staff and students have been undertaken, and an open discussion forum was held recently to discuss the results of the surveys as well as future directions of the University in its use of educational technologies.

“A centrepiece of this forum was a student panel, where a group of diverse students, with candour and humour, reflected on how they use technology to support a range of activities and interactions in their studies,” Professor Kennedy says.

“Staff relished the opportunity to ask students questions about what was important to them, how they used technology in their everyday studies, and how they thought they might use it in the future.

“A core part of this work stream, and that of others, is to encourage both staff and students in the University community to engage in a genuine conversation about teaching, learning and assessment practice.”

University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) Education Officer Paul Sakkal took part in the forum, and said the Education (Academic) Office of UMSU had made a concerted effort this year to have a seat in the room where decisions were being made. 

“It’s imperative there’s buy-in from students when the University is making major decisions about issues that affect students’ experiences,” he said.  “We’re glad our views are being canvassed, and our working relationship with the University is something we value greatly and hope to further in the coming years.”

Mr Sakkal said the HVI forum allowed the voice of regular students to be heard by a big group of academics through both the student panel and a presentation of Flex-AP student survey results.

“Exposure to the opinions and concerns of students is invaluable, and we’ll continue to advocate for the interests of students in the Flex-AP process,” he said.

“We’re of the view there’s a whole range of positives that could come out of the Flex-AP process for students, and we’ll continue to push for aspects of the Flex-AP that provide greater flexibility for students without eroding the broader student experience.”


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