The Southern Cross Model: Exploring Immersive and Engaging Learning

Come join us!

Online: 8 - 10 November

2022 Scholarship of Learning and Teaching Symposium

Online - Tuesday 8, Wednesday 9, and Thursday 10 November

We invite SCU colleagues to contribute to the Symposium conversations both as a presenter and as a participant in our 2022 Scholarship of Learning and Teaching Symposium. This year’s Symposium theme will be the focus of our discussions:

The Southern Cross Model: Exploring Immersive and Engaging Learning

Southern Cross University (SCU) has developed a distinctive academic model, one that offers deeper, more focused, and more engaging learning and teaching experiences. This academic model puts learning at the heart of our teaching practice by promoting guided and active learning experiences for our students across locations, courses, and levels of offering.

Historically, university learning has taken place through a semester or trimester model where full-time students complete four units or subjects concurrently over 12-15 weeks. In contrast, immersive scheduling models (Richmond et al., 2015; Turner et al., 2021) engage students in shorter periods of study and involve students ‘immersing’ themselves in just one or two units at a time. In a variation on other immersive models, the Southern Cross (SC) Model allows students to study up to two units at a time over 6-week teaching terms. The model is a radical intervention aimed at raising student success and retention and delivering a more engaging study experience for diverse student cohorts. 

2022 will be the first full year of course awards being offered within the SC Model, with the majority of courses delivered in the 6-week study period format. In 2023, we will see all students studying within this academic model. As Faculties and Colleges are at various stages of SC Model implementation, we encourage you to share your diverse experiences, ideas, and strategies with peers. This includes colleagues who are working in collaboration in the planning phase who are yet to teach in the academic model, through to colleagues who have been teaching within the SC Model for some time. Consider reflecting on and sharing how you have connected within disciplines and with colleagues from across the University to foster a community of practice.

We encourage you to share your experiences, scholarly lessons, achievements, risk-taking, creative approaches, challenges, and solutions with your colleagues. We encourage academic insights into the planning, design, delivery, and reflective experiences of the SC Model. We welcome your thoughts on how you have or intend to enhance student connections; strategies used or to be used for design and delivery; and ways you have created an engaging, collaborative learning environment. We encourage you to include both the academic and student perspective with feedback where possible. 

Symposium Sub-themes

The five sub-themes related to the 2022 Symposium theme are listed below. Under each sub-theme are a number of questions to provide you with a sense of the content and issues you could explore to guide and add depth to your contribution.

1.    Facilitating the learning partnership between academics and students (collaboration)

  • How have we or can we facilitate an adult learning partnership between academics and students? Share your partnership experiences.
  • What andragogic approaches are or can be effective to encourage adult learners to take responsibility for their learning?
  • What techniques can help to build confidence in students to take ownership of their learning?
  • How have we or can we build trustful and respectful teacher-student relationships to alleviate students’ anxiety and stress, and improve student outcomes?
  • What strategies have or may contribute to improving students' sense of belonging to the University community?

2.    Providing active learning experiences for the real-world

  • How have we designed or could we design active learning experiences for the SC Model? How have active learning experiences changed?
  • What activities or resources were used or could be used to encourage active and real-world learning?
  • What strategies have or can enhance in-depth learning and decrease the risk of surface learning?
  • How did we and can we ensure students have accessibility, and can participate and collaborate in active learning interactions in the same way?
  • How can learning activities support assessment preparation and address learning outcomes both in class and via self-access modules?
  • In which ways and to what extent do the learning experiences of students enhance the development of their professional identity?

3.    Creating authentic and real-world assessments

  • How have you or will you shift away from traditional assessments and final exams to include more authentic assessment experiences? Share your experiences of changing your assessments into the SC Model.
  • What are your experiences in implementing the new Assessment Moderation Guidelines?
  • How have we or can we create assessments for students to become work-ready?
  • What assessment types are important to facilitate real-world experiences? How did or can technology assist evidence-based and practical task assessments?
  • Share examples of moving towards high quality assessment rather than volume of assessment. What challenges and opportunities did you experience?
  • What strategies have or can enhance connections with the discipline community outside of SCU?

4.    Encouraging student connections and peer learning

  • How did you or will you encourage students from diverse backgrounds to share their perspectives and connect with peers in the SC Model? Share your strategies and experiences.
  • What methods, applications and current technologies, available to SCU and external partners, have we used or can use to connect and interact with students in different time zones, spaces, and places?
  • How did or can technology assist with promoting the student voice for example in an online workshop?
  • What support techniques were used or could help to promote equity, inclusion and diversity for students to feel connected and engender a sense of belonging in our teaching and learning spaces?

5.    Transformative learning

  • Transformative learning involves “the process of becoming critically aware of how and why our assumptions have come to constrain the way we perceive, understand, and feel about the world” (Mezirow, 1991, p. 167). How does this apply to your practice?
  • How has or can the SC Model help to transcend education beyond the transfer of knowledge?
  • How has or will your unit design and teaching transform some or all of the following for your students: cultural understanding, their sense of improved professional development; enhanced academic development; strengthening their personal growth?

Mezirow, J. (1991). Transformative Dimensions of Adult Learning. Jossey-Bass. 
Richmond, A. S., Murphy, B. C., Curl, L. S., & Broussard, K. A. (2015). The effect of immersion scheduling on academic performance and students’ ratings of instructors. Teaching of Psychology, 42(1), 26–33.

Roche, T., Wilson, E., Goode, E. (2022). Why the Southern Cross Model? How one University’s Curriculum was Transformed. Southern Cross University Scholarship of Learning and Teaching Paper No. 3. Available at SSRN: or

Turner, R., Webb, O. J., & Cotton, D. R. E. (2021). Introducing immersive scheduling in a UK university: Potential implications for student attainment. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 45(10), 1371–1384.


Contributors are required to submit a proposal in the appropriate style as listed in the table. Proposals must address the Symposium theme. The sub-themes and questions are provided to guide and add depth to your reflections and scholarship, and at least one sub-theme should be addressed. To encourage discussion, we invite contributions that present examples from practice and are creative, reflective, and scholarly.

Proposal length is 100-450 words including references submitted using APA 7th Referencing. Proposals will be published as part of the Symposium program and will be available following the event. 

Formats available Proposal style

SCU colleague Keynote presentation, or demonstration from practice – selected for the academic community


- 1 or 2 SCU colleague Keynote presentations (Each 45 minutes including Q&A)

This is an opportunity for everyone within SCU to put forward a contribution to share their practice as a keynote presentation. 


Topical presentation/s will be selected by the Symposium Steering Group. These keynote presentations will be delivered separately with no other presentations held during this time.


Abstract or description (250-450 words) including why your presentation should be a keynote. An interactive event plan (approximately 200 words) should describe:

  • The format for the event, e.g., workshop, discussion, or another creative format
  • What you intend to do
  • How you will invite participant interactivity
  • Planned next steps for participants interested in pursuing the topic further.

Short presentation, or demonstration from practice

- Short time slot (15 minutes including Q&A)

Abstract or description (150-400 words).

Long presentation, or demonstration from practice

- Long time slot (25 minutes including Q&A)

Abstract or description (150-400 words) and interactive
event plan (approximately 150 words). 


An interactive event plan (refer to SCU colleague Keynote presentations above for details).

Activity session - Experimenting with technologies

- Technology sandpit (25 minutes including Q&A)

Technology sandpit description (150-400 words).


Short practical activities which explain the reasoning behind the activity and show how the technology can be used for purposeful education.

Video presentation - Research-based (pre-recorded)

- 3 to 6 minute video presentation with Q&A

Introduction or pitch (100 words). 


Research-based presentations for colleagues seeking ideas and feedback on their scholarship of teaching activities or proposals. Q&A at the Symposium.

Video presentation - Technology showcase (pre-recorded)

An interactive showcase on how you have used innovative practices with technologies to engage students.


- 3 to 6 minute video presentation with Q&A.

Introduction or pitch (100 words). 


Videos could present a walk-through of a creative section of your Blackboard site, online learning activity, gamification innovation, a short interview-style presentation, and/or student feedback on an online learning activity. Videos could show how software (e.g., Doodly, homegrown videos, Mentimeter, MS Teams, Sway, Kahoot, TikTok, phone apps etc.) has been used to support learning. Q&A at the Symposium.

Proposals will be reviewed by the Symposium Steering Group. The Steering Group seeks contributions that:

  • Present or promote current effective practice and future directions
  • Address planning, designing and/or teaching in the SC Model
  • Illustrate learning from revised initiatives
  • Represent diverse perspectives and solutions
  • Incorporate active learning and innovative experiences
  • Are likely to stimulate ongoing discussion.

All colleagues are invited to submit their proposals by completing the 2022 Scholarship of Learning and Teaching Symposium Proposal form. Proposals to be received by Tuesday 20 September 2022 for review.

Symposium Program

The Symposium will be delivered online with sessions held over three consecutive days of a single week to cater for flexibility and attendance around teaching times.

The MS Teams SoLT Symposium space will be used again to facilitate a community of practice presence before, during, and after the Symposium. This space encourages the sharing of teaching practices and expertise. 

Day/Time (NSW) Activity
Tuesday 8 November
10:15am to 12pm

Opening Plenary

12:30pm to 1:15pm

Roundtable discussions

1:45pm to 2:45pm

Parallel sessions

- Presentations, demonstrations or Technology sandpit

- Video pre-recorded presentations with Q&A.

Wednesday 9 November
10:15am to 11:05am

SCU colleague Keynote presentation

11:05am to 11:25am

Summary of Roundtable discussions

12pm to 1pm

Parallel sessions

- Presentations, demonstrations or Technology sandpit

- Video pre-recorded presentations with Q&A.

1:30pm to 2:30pm

Technology Q&A presentations

Opportunity to ask the digital experts. Bring your questions!

Thursday 10 November

10:15am to 11:05am

SCU colleague Keynote presentation

11:30am to 12:30pm

Parallel sessions

- Presentations, demonstrations or Technology sandpit

- Video pre-recorded presentations with Q&A.

1:30pm to 2:40pm

Panel - Active Learning


Closing Plenary

To further continue the conversations and to offer face-to-face networking opportunities, a session will also be held at campuses a couple of weeks after the Symposium (if circumstances allow).

Symposium Steering Group

The Symposium Steering Group have been meeting regularly to provide guidance to the Centre for Teaching and Learning team in organising this event and is responsible for reviewing contributions.

The 2022 Steering Group members from across SCU:

Faculty of Business, Law and Arts - Dr Kayleen Wood, Associate Lecturer
Faculty of Education - Dr Christos Markopoulos, Senior Lecturer
Faculty of Health, National Centre for Naturopathic Medicine - Associate Professor Matthew Leach, Deputy Director, Education
Faculty of Health, Nursing - Dr Elizabeth Emmanuel, Senior Lecturer
Faculty of Science and Engineering - Associate Professor Raina Mason, Associate Dean (Education). Dr Reza Ghanbarzadeh, Lecturer started in July.
Gnibi College of Indigenous Australian Peoples - Ms Rachel Lynwood, Lecturer
SCU College - Dr Johanna Nieuwoudt, Lecturer
Centre for Teaching and Learning - Dr Mieke Witsel, Senior Lecturer
Centre for Teaching and Learning - Tina van Eyk, Steering Group Chair and Coordinator
Centre for Teaching & Learning - Dr Lachlan Forsyth, Director.