The Southern Cross Model: an overview

Centre for Teaching and Learning

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The Southern Cross Model, Teaching and Learning Experience: James Carlopio

Hello My name is James Carlopio and I've been Southern Cross for about three or four years now, and I've been involved most recently in developing two brand new courses from scratch in the six-week mode.

Can you describe your approach to the unit modules?

We're trying to make the courses much more active rather than passive learning. We're trying to reduce the amount of reading. So in all three of the courses that I've been involved in, there's just there's no textbooks. We have very few but key essential readings. And even those are much more applied, like from a Harvard Business Review article.

Can you describe your approach to class learning in the model?

We've divided the class, learning opportunities into a few different modes, one is, of course, the student has to do the online learning and then when they're done with that and I always request that they do that before they come to the classroom bits. we've got two sessions every week and there's a one hour session and it's sometimes followed literally a back to back with a two hour session or there's a little bit of a gap in between the two. And in the first one hour session, we tend to focus on overview of the unit content to make sure that students understand that content is out of questions. That's the time for them to ask the questions. If there’s something I want to clarify that I couldn't do in writing, because it's so much easier sometimes to talk about things like this, and that the second two hour is truly, totally active.

What principles were important for designing assessments in the new model?

Assessment designed, obviously, when you're designing, of course, is a huge part of it, and we've got a distinctly different, I believe, a view around assessment now with the new model. every component builds on and feeds back and feeds forward to every other component. The end product in the final assessment is a real business plan that people should be able to use if they were really trying to start a business, because not everybody is. Some people just make up a hypothetical and some people starting their careers. But for the people who are really trying to start a business, the idea is to come up with a true business plan at the end. the feedback on the assessment is that they love that cumulative effect.

How was the student engagement in the model?

I have always been sensitive to the fact that students need a voice and, you know, you have to get the group talking and you have to get individuals engaged in asking questions and thinking.

I always think about the fact that the learning actually the most important person in the room is not the person at the front of the room. The learning happens in the seats in the room. I that's where the action is happening.

If they're not engaged, they're not listening, if they're not engaged, they're not talking and it's just not working for anybody.

What did you enjoy about teaching in the new model?

I love the sprint nature of the six week course that you can get just since me. And I think it suits the times. And that's what the students say. You know, it's the way we're used to working. It's the way we're used to living right now. We get in, we get engaged, we do something, and then we move on to something else. And that's that, I think the biggest the biggest change in my mentality, the biggest point about the whole system that fits with the world today, the way people process information today, the way young people want to have university education fit into their lives.

That, to me, is the most impressive.

And of course, that's hard. You know, if you've ever done real world sprinting, you're exhausted at the end of that that 100 metre dash, 200 metre dash. You're tired at the end of that that six week period. So, you know, you have to learn the skill of recuperating and rejuvenating during those two weeks. And I've heard lots of students talk about, oh, good, I'm going to take a couple of weeks off now and, you know, go away and rest because I've got to come back and get right into it again for the next six weeks.

So those are the biggest things that come to my mind.

The Southern Cross Model, Teaching and Learning Experience: Liz Goode

Hi, my name's Dr Liz Goode, currently working as a teaching scholar in the Academic Portfolio office. But my usual role is teaching in the preparing success program at SCU College.

How did you approach designing unit modules for the Southern Cross Model?

So the unit modules for me needed to do a public key things as a priority. They needed to be focused and aligned very closely around specific learning outcomes and the concepts and skills required for any upcoming assessment task, so that alignment and the way the modules would sequence and scaffolded was really important.

And another thing I had front of mind was the need to invite students to do things at regular points in the modules. So I tried to develop a rhythm with this. That rhythm of just not letting text, videos or whatever it might be stretch on for too long without giving students an opportunity to do something meaningful or useful. I found that really important as I was putting together the modules.

What did students like about the unit Modules?

Students liked the variety of ways to interact with content. They liked that it wasn't just reading, but they could watch things. They could listen to things they could do, little activities that varied. Maybe there was like a quick quiz or drag and drop or a poll that allowed them to see their peers’ responses, too.

They also like that doing those kinds of things build their confidence. So it was an opportunity to gain familiarity with terms and concepts, to test out and try things, to go back and review when they needed, and to see what they're needed to focus on as well. So things that they wanted to follow up in class or to understand better. They got a sense of that from working through the modules, and they found that really helpful and really useful when they came to class, they felt like they already had a bit of a leg up and they enjoyed working through the interactive modules as well.

How did you approach to class learning in the model?

So class learning for me was principally about extending and expanding and going a little bit further than the modules to apply, to discuss, to investigate, in order problem solve the kinds of things that the modules covered.

So it's an active space where I feel students need to be doing activities that are meaningful and connect really clearly with the assessments and the learning outcomes. So you learned about this in the modules or you need to do this in your assessments. Let surface some of the questions or uncertainties that you might have. Let's talk about it together. Let's practise. Let's apply what you're learning in really relevant and useful ways.

What did students like about the classes?

In my conversations with students, they have highlighted a couple of things that they did like about the classes. Probably the main one is for social aspect of the classes. So they really enjoyed being able to be around and speak with other students, whether that was online or in a face to face classroom. So to see where others are out, to get to know each other and to do things like brainstorm in groups.

They really enjoy being able to discuss and analyse and make a start on assessment tasks and get clarification about the assessments. So what's expected, whether they're interpreting the task are regularly, whether they're on track, I found, was really valued by students as well.

What did you enjoy about teachi​ng in the new model?

I really enjoy the structure of it so that students have a variety of opportunities for learning that really complement each other. So it's not all about the modules, it's not all about the classes or all about the assessments, but it's all of those things working together. I really enjoyed that. I think that's a really powerful combination that has the potential to debate a learning partnership. So it allows the student, tutor the institution to work together to achieve a really great learning experience.

I've enjoyed the aspect of the new model.

Overall, what do you think about the new model compared to the 12-week model?

I think that the new model is really powerful and I keep coming back to that word powerful the way the interactive, self access modules and the classes where you apply and extend and work with peers and well designed scaffolded assessment tasks and work together to facilitate learning in ways that build students confidence and sense of achievement. I think that's really powerful. So that active, very aligned pedagogy has the potential, I think, to be immensely effective and I really like the more focused nature of it. I remember as a student myself, we often sound it quite overwhelming to be mentally pulled in so many different directions and for each unit to be such a long haul that it became quite exhausting, whereas the shorter, sharper, but deeper experience in the new model and I think the experiences of some of the pilot courses is showing us that learning outcomes in these courses aren't compromised.

Students are learning and achieving in ways that are just as strong or stronger than they did in a 12 or 13 week session.

So these are really positive signs and as an educator, I found it really exciting to witness and be a part of it. So I think the new model is a really positive step.