When we first moved to online learning, I was honoured to be asked by the Student Engagement team to create a short video on Some Tips and Advice for Online Learning Success to feature in the first Student Newsletter – which was aimed at engaging students in this new study mode. The Associate Director of Student Life, Lilia Draganov, then came up with the novel idea of creating somewhat of a series of videos to continue this journey in subsequent newsletters. Lilia and I have both been students and staff at MQ, and with both the student and staff hats on, we realised that online learning is presenting new challenges for learning and teaching… however, what is less discussed across the sector in all the various learning and teaching LinkedIn posts, social media memes, and general school banter – is that the move to online learning is highlighting generic student issues that were always there, albeit in a brand new light.

Hence we came up with the idea of creating short videos for students on: How to Stay on Top of Your Assignments – using a visual organising system for planning and giving yourself mini-wins throughout the session; Mid-session Assessments and Feedback – walking through the difference between formative and summative assessments and the unique purpose of each; Consolidating Your Work and Prepping for the Final – navigating Bloom’s taxonomy to help you demonstrate learning outcomes at the highest level of thinking… and as every session does, our journey of videos ends in Top 10 Exam Horror Stories 😊

Can a Ninja save your grade?
Music composed and played by Prashan!

Overall, the project helped me reflect on the mechanics of learning and teaching. Whether I have taught undergraduate first year, third year, or postgraduate students – students are not necessarily fully aware of things we as teachers may take as a given – and perhaps we need to take time out each session to fix that. Perhaps a time-out is needed to re-iterate: that a mid-session assessment task is designed to provide formative feedback and is not necessarily a predictor of failing a unit; that a summative assessment in the form of a final exam or final project is designed for the student to demonstrate their achievement of the unit learning outcomes, and that a grade is a descriptor of the level at which the learning outcomes of that unit are achieved.

Posted by Prashan Karunaratne

Prashan Karunaratne is an inspirational and innovative teacher of economics and business analytics. His enthusiasm for teaching and passion for improving student outcomes have inspired and engaged tens of thousands of students for more than a decade. He successfully utilises large lecture theatres and MOOCs as a crucible to develop a culture of active learning that nurtures students to develop a desire to engage. He inspires students to want to learn – by emphasising the ‘why’, and he equips students – by focusing on the ‘how’. The experiences and #EveryoneSayWow moments that Prashan creates in his classrooms and beyond, are those that students will remember in the years to come. He recently received a Citation for an Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning at the 2019 Australian Awards for University Teaching: "For excellence in engaging, equipping and empowering students and lecturers to achieve transformative and equitable outcomes in Economics and Excel – in classrooms, boardrooms and beyond."

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