Future campus connection: By design or by default


  • Fleur Connor-Douglas
  • Leanne Reynolds Massey University




campus, learning spaces, blended learning, learner-centered, learning design


Now more than ever, tertiary educators should be able to answer the question, ‘why are we teaching on campus?’ Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, we, as a group of education design staff in the central learning and teaching unit at Massey University, started questioning the notion of campus as the default space for learning. In doing so, we discovered opportunities to: better support students’ diverse needs and life loads; operationalise transition pedagogies; and harness the specific learning experiences only a campus can provide, while embracing the affordances of modern technology to enhance learning. As our unit is well placed to surface these possibilities and advocate for change, the notion of intentional campus connection is a key theme in various projects with which we engage. Collaborative project work focused on intentional design allows for the learner and the learning task to be put at the centre of the experience. Why are campus attendance decisions made? What knowledge, skills, or values are students expected to experience or demonstrate during these campus sessions? Only when we ask exactly what teachers require students to demonstrate and/or experience can we then determine the space that best accommodates the learner and the task. In some cases, existing research on learning spaces can guide us – for example, self?paced (asynchronous) online learning is a flexible and effective way for students to engage with new core knowledge (Mullen, 2020; Ng, 2015; Petronzi & Petronzi, 2020; Reidsema et al., 2017) – and in others, we can often be guided by ethical considerations. We have observed two responses when the topic of selecting learning spaces is raised in projects. The first, most common, is the decision is made based on traditions and teacher-centered practices that have, in some contexts, a questionable role in contemporary learning environments, especially for mature, distance cohorts. These campus decisions often occur by default, when teaching teams work independently from educational design teams. The second response involves a design decision led by a need for students to engage in or evidence learning on campus as it cannot (easily) be achieved any other way. For example, they may need to access special facilities or resources (e.g., gain confidence and evidence readiness in a simulation lab before work-integrated-learning experiences), or participate in an occasion that cannot be replicated online (e.g., get the opportunity to find a project sponsor at a business networking event). Our collaboration with teaching teams is often the catalyst for robust discussions that, when successful, lead to campus connections that reflect modern, learner-centered, intentional approaches to learning design. Through examples of programme and course level design changes, this poster will explore the phased approaches, systemic and cultural challenges that authentic blended design surfaces, and the future opportunities that our work has uncovered on the path to encouraging intentional connections to campus.






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