The development of the LTIF ‘I Love Blended Learning’ will encompass five dimensions. Each of these dimensions constitutes an internal project itself. These projects are:
- Beautiful Blackboard (BBB)
- Everyone Does It (EDI)
- I’m a Digital Ninja (IDN)
- Virtual Reality (VR)
- Dada (DD)
This dimension of the LTIF is the continuation and expansion of a previous project conducted in 2015, which aimed to create digital contents for all the Blackboard shells of three programs in the School of Architecture and Design.
BBB aims to change negative perceptions of Blackboard by activating the notion of Blackboard as a ‘beautiful’ Learning Management System. In order to achieve this objective, BBB will create digital contents for all the Blackboard shells of the ten programs participating in the project. These contents will be optimized for mobile devices, which will allow students and teachers to access Blackboard through their smart phones, and tablets, at a time and place that is convenient depending on their own routines. To achieve staff engagement the project’s Hub will create and coordinate a co-working space, where program managers and teaching assistants from each program will be introduced to examples of exemplary BBB mobile experiences. This co-working space will also work as an off-line/on-line platform for the creation of digital contents for the Blackboard shells of each program.
Everyone Does It
This dimension of the LTIF builds on and takes further previous projects conducted in RMIT, which have identified an enormous potential of different social networking sites for blended learning.
While BBB focuses on the creation of contents for a traditional LMS, EDI aims to document good practices of blended learning taking place beyond blackboard, and across different social media platforms. To achieve this objective, the project team (hub and spokes) will 1) identify general patterns in the use of social networking sites in the programs participating in the project, and 2) document particular cases through collection of teaching artefacts illustrating, in different ways, the use of social media in design education. The project team expects to document cases around networking platforms and sites such as: Google (including Gmail, Sites, Communities, Drive, Street View, etc.), Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, WordPress. General patterns and case studies documented as part of this project will be included in the blended learning toolkit as a didactic way of encouraging teachers and students to adopt social networking sites as part of their learning and teaching.
I’m a Digital Ninja
A third dimension included in the development of the LTIF is I’m a Digital Ninja. This project aims to introduce the use of digital tools for team communication and project management.
One of the blended learning strategies that the LTIF aims to implement in this dimension is the use of the app Slack. This app allows users to create teams (groups of users) and channels (topics), which reduces the amount of ‘noise’ in communications. Members of a team can share messages and different file formats with all the members or with specific members of a channel. Slack is also compatible with other apps such as Skype or Dropbox, which enhances communication and file sharing/storage between users. In the context of learning and teaching Slack can provide teacher and students with an efficient platform. For instance, one academic teaching various course in a semester can create different teams for each course, and different channels according to learning activities or assessments in each course. Students added to each team and channel can communicate with the whole group, or exchange messages and files with their teacher or with other students. In this way, Slack provides with a horizontal tool for communication and course management in only one place.
The fourth dimension of the project will explore the use of virtual reality (in the form of 360 degrees images and videos) in design education.
One of the blended learning strategies that ‘I Love Blended Learning’ aims to implement is the use of virtual reality (VR) in the participating programs. There is a particular issue of design education that this LTIF aims to tackle by using VR, namely, conducting fieldwork in sensitive places (e.g. hospitals, homes, police stations, etc.). With the use of VR technology this issue can be overcome i.e. teachers and students can have remote access to places where their presence might be disruptive. This part of the project will implement technologies such as 360 photographic cameras and visors, and will build upon current implementations of VR in educational contexts worldwide (e.g. https://www.google.com/edu/expeditions, https://plus.google.com/u/1/communities/103070326999809122127) as well as in RMIT through Digital Learning.
The fifth element involved in the LTIF development is DaDa, a project aimed at understanding the use of Microsoft Surface and Microsoft Surface apps in learning and teaching. In this project, a group of teaching staff of different programs will use the Microsoft Surface as part of their teaching and learning, and will document their experience.
Dada aims to provide a deeper understanding of the use Microsoft Surface in higher education from a teacher perspective. There is already a clear understanding of how the functionalities of this device and specific apps can improve learning and teaching in schools and universities, and this project will complement this knowledge by adding information about Surface user experience in the context of design education. In particular, Dada will examine how the Surface – including its technical, functional and aesthetic features – are appropriated, perceived and interpreted by teachers in their daily routines of teaching and learning. This approach to the use of Surface in higher education is based on the idea that understanding the everyday experience of users is a decisive factor for innovation. The project team expects to deliver a series of insights revolving around the use of this device, and specific apps, for educational purposes.