Teaching Matters 2020 | Presentation Details | 30 November 202030 Nov 2020
Climbing kunanyi with online students
- Duncan Sinclair, Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre, CoHM*
- Alison Canty, Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre, CoHM
Connected to place
Online undergraduate students often report feeling disconnected from their teachers, peers and institution. Initiatives which foster connectedness may improve online students’ experiences; resulting in deeper learning and lower rates of attrition. At the Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre we piloted a simple approach for increasing ‘teacher presence’, and strengthening students’ connectedness to country and institution which was designed around the teaching team’s personal interest in the outdoors. Online students in a foundation unit of our Bachelor of Dementia Care were encouraged to consider their neuroscience learning journey to be like climbing a mountain. As they did, we guided them on a virtual climb of kunanyi (Mt Wellington) across the semester. Short videos were integrated into the unit which had been shot on site at various locations across Hobart and Wellington Park; including from the summit of kunanyi. Feedback from students was very positive, with many deriving surprising levels of encouragement from this analogy. Our experience, albeit limited, suggests that simple strategies which reflect the passions of the teaching team and the unique character of Tasmania can be used effectively to increase a sense of connectedness among online students.