High Impact Learning Experiences for the Online Environment

Natalie BROWN
University of Tasmania, Australia

University of Tasmania, Australia

Rebecca SHAW
University of Tasmania, Australia


The University of Tasmania (UTAS) has adopted an institution wide approach to technology enhanced learning and teaching (Brown, Kregor & Williams, 2013). The UTAS Blended Learning Model outlines three characteristics that should be evident in all units. The first is high quality online resources to support learning. The second is high quality interaction (peer to peer; student to teacher to student). The third critical element is the concept of high impact learning experiences (HILEs). It is these that move beyond resources and interaction to provide purposeful and planned experiences to enable students to meet learning outcomes. The concept is based on the work of George Kuh (2008) who identified high impact educational practices through extensive research and surveying of students. It draws from Kuh's work by identifying the characteristics present in his high impact experiences (such as capstones and internships) that can be incorporated into teaching and learning at all levels. HILEs also connect to the work of Biggs (2003), requiring purposeful alignment to learning outcomes and explicit scaffolding of student learning to enable successful achievement of intended learning outcomes. Whilst design and delivery of HILEs in on-campus units is well characterized, extending these to the online environment can present challenges. A selection of case studies to exemplify fully online HILEs has been collated from UTAS teaching award winners. These will provide the basis for continued informal and formal professional development of teaching staff and further rollout of the Blended Learning Model in fully online mode.

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