Jill Downing

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Jill Downing


Room 525 , Hytten Hall

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+61 3 6226 2569 (fax)

Jillian Downing is a lecturer in the Faculty of Education at the University of Tasmania and has developed range of courses on the scholarship and practice of applied learning in teacher-education. In 2015 Jillian received an Australian award for University teaching from the Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT). Her citation recognised her leadership in the development of innovative VET teacher-education programs using applied learning design in online environments. This national award followed a University of Tasmania Vice-Chancellor's citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning in 2014.

Jillian's research focuses on pedagogical design in online learning environments, particularly for non-traditional learners. Her PhD used design-based research to evaluate the student experience in an online undergraduate degree, with particular interest in the effectiveness of specific design principles that aimed to ensure an applied, authentic learning environment. Jillian's professional experience is largely situated within adult and vocational education as well as human resource management and development in the Australasian region.


Before joining the University of Tasmania, Jillian was based in Singapore, working throughout the Asian region as a training and management consultant for major international corporations such as Microsoft, Michelin and Dow Corning as well as corporate universities including Prudential University, based in Hong Kong. Much of her work with these large corporations focussed on achieving ambitious staff development aspirations and ensuring that the workforce was agile and capable in an era of rapid and constant change.  Her corporate background provided a strong foundation for moving into teaching and research in adult learning and education at the University. Jillian's professional and academic career reflects her belief that industry and educational providers need to work closely together in order to develop the type of graduates who are ready and able to contribute meaningfully to their chosen disciplines. Additionally, Jillian recognises the potential for the online learning environment to meet the needs of students who are combining work with study, and need an applied, authentic approach to their continuing education.

Career summary


  • PhD (2016) 'Applied learning design in online teacher-education', Murdoch University, Australia
  • MEd (2010), University of Tasmania, Australia
  • GradCert University Teaching and Learning (2009), Univeristy of Tasmania, Australia
  • BAVE (2006), University of Tasmania, Australia


Professional practice

  • Australian Council of Deans of Education – VET Working Group
  • Australian Vocational Education and Training Research Association

Administrative expertise

Jillian has managed significant professional development projects for multi-national companies operating in the Asian region. She is an active member of several Faculty and University committees.


Vocational education, adult learning, online learning and teaching, applied learning, authentic learning, adult education, eLearning, andragogy

Teaching expertise

Jillian has been responsible for the design, development, accreditation and delivery of a number of undergraduate and post-graduate courses, all focussed on adult, applied and vocational education. She has received numerous Faculty and University awards for the quality of her teaching. Jillian is an experienced designer and developer of online learning environments, with a particular interest in ensuring an applied, authentic approach to online pedagogy and an engaging environment for students.

Teaching responsibility



Research Invitations

  • 2015: Keynote speaker at TAFE NSW's conference on Applied Learning
  • 2013: Keynote speaker at Ballarat University's conference on Applied Learning

View more on Dr Jillian Downing in WARP


  • Applied Learning
  • Authentic learning
  • Online pedagogy
  • Adult Education
  • Adult Learning
  • Supporting academics teaching in the online environment

Research Themes

Jill's research aligns with the University's research theme of Creativity, Culture and Society. Her research interests extend over three related areas: authentic, applied online learning design, the needs of students considered 'non-traditional' at university, and the perceptions and needs of academics as they transition from teaching face-to-face to teaching online. Jillian has been a strong proponent of quality online learning and teaching, recognising that a growing number of students will be combining work and study and need to access their education in a fully online environment. Her PhD investigated an alternative approach to online learning design, aiming to achieve an authentic, applied experience for students in a teacher-education course. Her findings suggested that it is possible to create an effective, engaging environment for students in an online environment through well designed activities that connect theory and practice in real-world contexts. Additionally, such an approach has the potential to more effectively facilitate the development of the desired graduate attributes and threshold learning outcomes.

Jillian's research has also investigated the characteristics and needs of students considered 'non-traditional', such as mature-aged students who are combining study with family and work duties, and studying in an online mode of delivery. Her findings suggest that these students respond well to an environment that recognises and responds to their desire for increased flexibility and connection with other aspects of their life. This has implications for the professional development needs of academics and the pedagogical approach in units, but has the potential to make university study more relevant and authentic to the needs of students and industry.

Jillian is also interested in the researching the support that academics need as they transition into teaching in the online environment, particularly in fields that are traditionally approached through on-campus study. Many academics report feeling dissatisfied or fearful of teaching in the online environment, but with appropriate support and professional development, deep engagement and satisfaction is possible for both students and teaching staff. Her findings highlight the importance of at-elbow support at critical times, and strategies that encourage student-to-student and student-to-teacher interactions and critical reflection.


Jillian is currently involved in several collaborative University of Tasmania research projects, focussing on the potential for ePortfolios in education, as well as a software tool to help map unit and course learning outcomes against graduate attributes and the requirements for professional accreditation.

Fields of Research

  • Teacher education and professional development of educators (390307)
  • Higher education (390303)
  • Educational technology and computing (390405)
  • Physical education and development curriculum and pedagogy (390111)
  • Other education (399999)
  • Education systems (390399)
  • Special education and disability (390411)
  • Continuing and community education (390301)
  • Maritime engineering (401599)
  • Curriculum and pedagogy theory and development (390102)
  • Vocational education and training curriculum and pedagogy (390114)
  • Medicine, nursing and health curriculum and pedagogy (390110)
  • Health promotion (420603)
  • Education assessment and evaluation (390402)

Research Objectives

  • Other education and training (169999)
  • Teacher and instructor development (160303)
  • Teaching and instruction technologies (160304)
  • Learner and learning (160199)
  • Assessment, development and evaluation of curriculum (160301)
  • Expanding knowledge in psychology (280121)
  • Pedagogy (160302)
  • Health education and promotion (200203)
  • Other health (209999)


Jillian's publications focus on the online learning and teaching environment within higher education. She is particularly interested in pedagogical design, and the ways in which the learning environment can offer a more applied and authentic experience for students. She is also interested in the characteristics and needs of students considered 'non-traditional' and in particular has investigated the experience of adult students with autism who are engaged in higher education study.

Jillian's other publications focus on the perceptions and attitudes of academics as they transition into teaching in the online environment in higher education.

Total publications


Journal Article

(15 outputs)
2021Hopwood B, Dyment J, Downing J, Stone C, Muir T, et al., 'Keeping the party in full swing: findings on online student engagement with teacher education students', Journal of Continuing Higher Education pp. 1-20. ISSN 0737-7363 (2021) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1080/07377363.2021.1966922 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 1Web of Science - 2

Co-authors: Hopwood B; Muir T; Freeman E; Milthorpe N


2020Dyment JE, Downing JJ, 'Online initial teacher education: a systematic review of the literature', Asia - Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 20, (3) pp. 316-333. ISSN 1469-2945 (2020) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1080/1359866X.2019.1631254 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 25Web of Science - 20

Co-authors: Dyment JE


2019Downing JJ, Dyment JE, Stone C, 'Online initial teacher education in Australia: affordances for pedagogy, practice and outcomes', Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 44, (5) ISSN 1835-517X (2019) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.14221/ajte.2018v44n5.4 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 3Web of Science - 2

Co-authors: Dyment JE


2018Dyment J, Downing J, ''There was nowhere to hide ': the surprising discovery of how weekly web conferences facilitated engagement for online initial teacher education students', Asia - Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 46, (4) pp. 399-418. ISSN 1359-866X (2018) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1080/1359866X.2018.1444140 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 1Web of Science - 1

Co-authors: Dyment J


2018Dyment J, Downing J, Hill A, Smith H, ' I did think it was a bit strange taking outdoor education online': exploration of initial teacher education students' online learning experiences in a tertiary outdoor education unit', Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning, 18, (1) pp. 70-85. ISSN 1472-9679 (2018) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1080/14729679.2017.1341327 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 18Web of Science - 1

Co-authors: Dyment J; Hill A; Smith H


2018Dyment JE, Downing JJ, 'Online initial teacher education students' perceptions of using web conferences to support professional conversations', Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 43, (4) pp. 68-91. ISSN 1835-517X (2018) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.14221/ajte.2018v43n4.5 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 8Web of Science - 5

Co-authors: Dyment JE


2017Chown N, Robinson J, Beardon L, Downing J, Hughes L, et al., 'Improving research about us, with us: a draft framework for inclusive autism research', Disability and Society, 32, (5) pp. 720-734. ISSN 0968-7599 (2017) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1080/09687599.2017.1320273 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 56Web of Science - 59


2017Downing JJ, 'Design principles for applied learning: bringing theory and practice together in an online VET teacher-education degree', International Journal of Training Research, 15, (1) pp. 85-102. ISSN 1448-0220 (2017) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1080/14480220.2017.1313756 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 1Web of Science - 1


2017Downing JJ, 'VET teaching and teacher education', International Journal of Training Research, 15, (1) pp. 1-3. ISSN 1448-0220 (2017) [Non Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1080/14480220.2017.1358893 [eCite] [Details]


2016Kertesz J, Downing J, 'Piloting teacher education practicum partnerships: teaching alliances for professional practice (TAPP)', Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 41, (12) pp. 13-24. ISSN 0313-5373 (2016) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.14221/ajte.2016v41n12.2 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 6

Co-authors: Kertesz J


2016Smith HA, Dyment JE, Hill A, Downing J, ' You want us to teach outdoor education where?' Reflections on teaching outdoor education online', Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning, 16, (4) pp. 303-317. ISSN 1472-9679 (2016) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1080/14729679.2016.1147966 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 8

Co-authors: Smith HA; Dyment JE; Hill A


2014Downing J, ''Obstacles to my learning': A mature-aged student with autism describes his experience in a fully online course', International studies in widening participation, 1, (1) pp. 15-27. ISSN 2203-8841 (2014) [Refereed Article]

[eCite] [Details]


2014Downing J, 'Applied or denied? The eLearning experience of an autistic, mature-aged university student', International Journal of Cyber Ethics in Education, 3, (2) pp. 1-15. ISSN 2155-6903 (2014) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.4018/ijcee.2014040101 [eCite] [Details]


2013Downing JJ, Dyment JE, 'Teacher educators' readiness, preparation, and perceptions of preparing preservice teachers in a fully online environment: an exploratory study', The Teacher Educator, 48, (2) pp. 96-109. ISSN 0887-8730 (2013) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1080/08878730.2012.760023 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 69

Co-authors: Dyment JE


2013Dyment J, Downing J, Budd Y, 'Framing teacher educator engagement in an online environment', Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 38, (1) Article 9. ISSN 0313-5373 (2013) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.14221/ajte.2013v38n1.6 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 19

Co-authors: Dyment J; Budd Y


Chapter in Book

(3 outputs)
2016Downing J, 'The Experiences and Perceptions of Non-Traditional Students Enrolled in an Online Teacher Education Course', What is Next in Educational Research?, Sense Publishers, S Fan, J Fielding-Wells (ed), The Netherlands, pp. 93-106. ISBN 9789463005227 (2016) [Research Book Chapter]

[eCite] [Details]


2014Downing JJ, Brennan Kemmis R, Ahern S, 'eLearning in vocational education and training', Teaching in the VET sector in Australia, David Barlow Publishing, R Brennan Kemmis & L Atkins (ed), Macksville, NSW, Australia, pp. 111-130. ISBN 978-1-921333-61-3 (2014) [Other Book Chapter]

[eCite] [Details]

2014Fitzallen NE, Downing JJ, 'Engagement and educational technologies', The Future of Educational Research, Sense Publishers, N. Fitzallen, S. Fan & R. Reaburn (ed), Netherlands, pp. 153-163. ISBN 978-94-6209-512-0 (2014) [Research Book Chapter]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Fitzallen NE


Conference Publication

(8 outputs)
2017Downing J, 'Applied Learning design in an online VET Teacher Education course: A pedagogical framework that responds to the needs of mature-aged, employed students', Vocational education and training in sub-Saharan Africa: Current situation and development, 23-25 August 2016, Windhoek, Namibia, pp. 83-92. ISBN 978-3-7639-5793-4 (2017) [Refereed Conference Paper]

DOI: 10.3278/6004570w [eCite] [Details]


2013Allan C, Symes MF, Downing JJ, 'Identifying e-learning principles for Maritime Education through the e-initiatives project: A design-based approach', Electric Dreams - Proceedings of the 2013 Australian Society for Computers in Learning and Tertiary Education Conference, 1-4 December 2013, Sydney, Australia, pp. 18-22. ISBN 978-1-74138-403-1 (2013) [Refereed Conference Paper]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Symes MF


2013Downing J, Herrington J, 'Applied learning in online spaces: traditional pedagogies informing educational design for today's learners', Proceeding of the 30th Annual conference on Australian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education, ASCILITE 2013, 1-4 December 2013, Sydney, Australia, pp. 236-246. ISBN 978-1-74138-403-1 (2013) [Refereed Conference Paper]

[eCite] [Details]


2013Downing J, Herrington J, 'Design Principles for Applied Learning in Higher Education: A Pedagogical Approach for Non-traditional Students in an Online Course', Proceedings of the 2013 World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunicataions, 24 June 2013, Chesapeake, Virginia, USA, pp. 874-881. ISBN 978-1-939797-03-2 (2013) [Refereed Conference Paper]

[eCite] [Details]


2013Nash RE, Kelder J-A, Ennever ER, Williams A-MM, De Silva EC, et al., 'Sharing Practice Peer Learning Circle (PLC) 360 Curriculum', Teaching Matters 2013 - Open UTAS to the World, 28 - 29 November, 2013, Tasmania (2013) [Keynote Presentation]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Nash RE; Kelder J-A; Ennever ER; Williams A-MM; De Silva EC; Kertesz JLB; Ellis L; Dermoudy J; Osborne John; Linquist SG; Rundle NC; Booth S; Symes MF

2012Downing JJ, 'Authentic learning for real learning', Program of the Applied Learning 2012 Forum, 3-4 December 2012, Ballarat, Victoria, Australia, pp. 2. (2012) [Keynote Presentation]

[eCite] [Details]

2012Stephenson B, Downing J, 'The affordances of web conferences in online pre-service mathematics education', Future Challenges, Sustainable Futures - Proceedings of the 2012 ASCILITE Conference, 25-28 November 2012, Auckland, New Zealand, pp. 881-884. ISBN 978-0-473-22989-4 (2012) [Refereed Conference Paper]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Stephenson B


2011Nailon D, Emery SG, Downing J, 'Using insights from Myers-Briggs type preferences to support early childhood pre-service teachers' personal and professional mathematical understanding', Mathematics: Traditions and [New] Practices - Proceedings of the AAMT-MERGA, 3-7 July 2011, Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia, pp. 1031-1038. ISBN 978-1-875900-71-8 (2011) [Refereed Conference Paper]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Nailon D; Emery SG



(1 outputs)
2015Downing JJ, 'Applied learning design in an online teacher-education course' (2015) [PhD]

[eCite] [Details]

Other Public Output

(1 outputs)
2017Downing JJ, 'Specialised VET teacher degree gives educators' practice an edge', The Australian, News Corp Australia, Sydney, Australia, 13 September 2017, pp. 30-31. (2017) [Newspaper Article]

[eCite] [Details]

Grants & Funding

Funding Summary

Number of grants


Total funding



Student View: A pilot study into the student experience of online learning across disciplines (2018)$15,613
As the growth in online higher education continues at UTAS and beyond, there are a number of important and timely questions about the ways online students engage with learning that have profound relevance to our College. This Hothouse application builds on existing research in the School of Education (SOE) that explores the learning experiences of online initial teacher education students. A systematic literature search (of 457 A1 articles) revealed that the majority of research on student experiences of online learning examines their experiences of a single technology (e.g., webconference/ facebook/ digital gaming) and is often captured at a single time point (e.g., end of semester via interview or exit survey). This review has revealed important gaps in the research literature, namely a need to: 1) interpret student experience more holistically across multiple units of study and 2) capture student voice over time.This Hothouse project will: collect online student-generated data (the Student View) collected periodically throughout semester; identify how, when, and why students engage with online learning in their units; compare engagement among units; and analyse patterns of engagement, for fully online units and blended delivery units.This project aligns with a number of other UTAS projects researching online higher education. The projects pioneering methodology will enable new modes of knowledge generation, increase our understanding of the student experience, improve student outcomes and retention, and support CALEs uptake of the UTAS Technology Enhanced Learning and Teaching White Paper, the UTAS Blended Learning Model and the UTAS Strategy on Open Educational Practice. For example, the project can specifically investigate whether or not our units consistently meet element 3 of the White Paper, mandating purposefully designed high impact learning experiences that enable them to achieve the learning outcomes of the unit and course.
University of Tasmania ($15,613)
Grant - CALE Hothouse Alignment Scheme
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Dyment JE; Muir T; Downing JJ; Milthorpe NE; Freeman EM
High quality educational research into the use of e-portfolios (portfolios) to promote curriculum integration and lead evidence of attaining professional standards (2018)$13,144
Significant changes in the Australian higher education sector, including deregulated enrolments andsubsequent unregulated growth in professional qualifying programs (e.g. Social Work, Education andAssociate Degrees), have created major challenges for universities and their industry partners. Of particularconcern is the need for, and increasing difficulty in securing, sufficient numbers of high quality professionaleducation placements and work-integrated learning opportunities (Allen & Wright, 2014).This proposed research project asks What are the advantages of using portfolios in work-integrated andprofessional qualifying university programs, for students, the University and the placement agencies, aimingto explore how student portfolios contribute to the redesign of one of the most resource-intensive aspects ofplacements (Beckers, Dolmans, & van Merrinboer, 2016): the evidence-based assessment of studentachievement of professional practice standards (e.g. and new portfolio software for MyLO, and web-based documentation management system, provide anopportunity for the partners to integrate curricula with authentic field/placement study and work-integratedlearning (Degrees of Difference, 2016; Venville, Cleak & Bould, 2017).Portfolios offer a highly flexible formative and/or summative pedagogic approach (Gmiz-Snchez, Gallego-Arrufat, & Crisol-Moya, 2016), and are accessible to work-based supervisors, enabling co-design, delivery,moderated assessment of student achievement (and evaluation) of the curriculum (Mahar & Strobert, 2010;Schuwirth & van der Vleuten, 2011).The project capitalises on complementary expertise from the Discipline of Social Work (Social Sciences) andthe School of Education, with the University College, and responds to well-documented social welfare andeducational needs in the State (West, 2013).This new partnership will use a literature scoping review, surveys of students and peers/colleague supervisorsand case study approach (see timelines below) to thoroughly document the current baseline, compared withthe use of portfolios to augment learning in practice, to provide the foundation for the development of an ARCLinkage grant application.
University of Tasmania ($13,144)
Grant - CALE Hothouse Alignment Scheme
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Quentin-Baxter M; Vreugdenhil AJ; Masters JE; Stanford SN; Downing JJ; Carr AR; McDonald T

Research Supervision




EdDA Grounded Theory Study of the Preparedness of Paramedics to Undertake the Role of Preceptor in the Clinical Setting
Candidate: Dale Gregory Edwards