This article was written by Dr Alex Bannigan, UNSW Engineering
Kurt Douglas (Civil & Environmental Engineering) spent his summer participating in the PVCE's 'Digital Uplift' project, taking his CVEN3203 field trip to the next level.
The course, which has grown from fewer than 100 students when it was first taught, to over 500 students this year, was in need of an upgrade to maintain a good educational experience for such a large number of students.
An essential part of the course is exposure to engineering geology in the field. Field mapping at Bronte, where students learn the necessary techniques for collecting engineering properties of rocks and a geology fieldtrip are key inclusions. As it's impossible to take such a large class on a single outing, and breaking the class into smaller groups for multiple guided field trips would be excessively time consuming for the instructor, the students have been taking themselves on self-guided excursions for several years. Without a teacher present, though, students get lost, fail to find the features described in the fieldtrip notes, and generally learn less from the experience than they could have.
So, when the course was nominated for the Digital Uplift Project, Kurt saw it as an opportunity to improve the field trip to give the students a better learning experience. By creating a series of short instructional videos, Kurt can now virtually accompany all of the students on the field trip to point out features and demonstrate the techniques he wants them to learn. In addition, the Digital Uplift team created a 360o image of one of the sites, which allows students to be digitally immersed in the location before they visit it, so that they are properlyprepared when they get there.
Other enhancements to the course include: a 3D virtual/digital rock collection; Moodle lessons built to introduce Workshop topics; animations showing fundamental geological concepts; course intro videos; redrafting of figures; and integration into a freshly designed Moodle site. All of this will free up time for Kurt to bring in new activities into his timetabled face-to-face time with the students.
Curious about the Digital Uplift Project? Here's Kurt's take on what it is (and what it isn't), as well as his advice for new takers:
The Digital Uplift project is NOT about:
- Fully online courses
- Replacing you
- Videoing and then removing lecture slots
The Digital Uplift project IS:
- Very useful, if you want it to be
- Course and lecturer specific
- About smarter use of time/resources
- Well supported and resourced
- Time consuming in development
To get the most out of it:
- Before you start, think about what would improve your course.
- Consider what currently doesn't work well and how you might reinvent it.
- Consider how you might reinforce the fundamentals of the main topics to students.
- Look at your lectures and see what would be better as an online resource to free up extra face-to-face time with students.
- Explore what others have done & the uplift team's capabilities.
Kurt would like to credit the team who worked with him on the Digital Uplift project:
- Jenni Jarventaus - Educational Developer
- Felipe Crisostomo - Educational Designer
- Brian Landrigan - Educational Media Manager
- Carlos Dominguez - Educational Media Developer
- David Green – CVEN postgrad - development and review support
- Golnaz Esgandani – CVEN postgrad - development and review support
If you have ideas for improving your Engineering course and would like some support, you can register an expression of interest using this form.
For information about the Digital Uplift program (part of the Inspired Learning Initiative) get in touch with the PVCE team: DigitalUpLift@unsw.edu.au