Distributed learning a cornerstone of learning at Curtin MalaysiaPosted date:
In addition to expanding its footprint as Curtin University’s global hub in Asia through strategic alliances, partnerships and a campus that is well integrated with other Curtin campuses in Australia, Dubai, Singapore and Mauritius, Curtin University Malaysia (Curtin Malaysia) is assuming leadership in innovative digital learning.
This is both in line with Curtin University’s ‘Learning for Tomorrow’ initiatives and the strategic goals of the Sarawak state government to transform Sarawak through a dynamic digital economy. In recent years, Curtin Malaysia has become a prime mover in forging the state’s digital future through innovative projects and capacity development.
‘Learning for Tomorrow’ is a university-wide strategy to transform the design and delivery of education at Curtin. The university believes that innovative thinking and the use of transformative technologies will enable students at all its campuses to have rich learning experiences, understand real-world issues, and help build essential skills that match industry needs.
An increasing number of business and engineering units at Curtin Malaysia are being delivered using Distributed Learning or DL, enabling students and staff at the Malaysia and Perth campuses to engage and interact in real-time. The use of DL at Curtin’s campuses is aligned to its belief that the capacity to build bi-directional links in both teaching and research are the hallmarks of a genuine global university.
DL represents a multimedia method of instructional delivery that includes a mix of web-based instruction, streaming video conferencing, face-to-face classroom time, distance learning through television or video, and other combinations of electronic and traditional educational models. A DL system allows delivery of teaching by instructors to learners in multiple geographical locations and permits learner-instructor interaction in real-time.
Complementing the DL pedagogies at Curtin Malaysia is a number of innovative and vibrant learning spaces developed since 2015 and specially designed to increase student engagement, foster collaboration between staff and students, and provide flexible, technology-rich environments to support active learning and the development of a digital mindset in students.
They include distributed learning rooms, collaborative learning spaces and case study rooms retrofitted and refurbished with the latest technologies in teaching and learning. A new Faculty of Engineering and Science building completed in 2017 saw the inclusion of a large distributed learning room with a 100-seat capacity and three lecture theatres with capability to beam lectures from one venue to the other.
The collaborative learning spaces facilitate a flipped mode of teaching delivery. In these learning spaces, students are able to work in groups, access online resources and share views and presentations with their peers with each group having access to personalised monitors.
“Innovative learning at Curtin Malaysia focuses on building a highly media-rich, interactive and personalised learning experience for learners. The flexible collaborative learning classroom allows for an extensive audio-visual presentation where displays are provided in practical directions according to seating layouts,” said Curtin Malaysia Pro Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Simon Leunig.
According to Professor Leunig, more units are using a flipped mode of delivery, so these rooms are ideal for including a combination of face-to-face and online teaching, and actively engage students.
In a flipped mode of delivery, instructors engage with students prior to class through learning management systems, and class time focuses on hands-on learning, collaborating with peers and evaluating their progress. Thus, a flipped model of learning is particularly well-suited to higher education settings for a variety of reasons.
Professor Leunig said discussions are ongoing with the faculties at Curtin’s main campus in Perth to offer units from the various campuses and engage students and staff in learning and teaching in a seamless manner across campuses and for optimising learning and teaching resources.
In addition to the learning spaces, a CISCO lab and high-performance Petrel lab, a new dedicated Student Learning Commons was also opened, offering a wider range of flexible learning spaces to complement an existing 24-hour Study Space and three-storey campus library.
“All these facilities provide good quality learning experiences for students, and enable them to be familiar with the latest technology being used in the industry. They enable us to continue forging a reputation for producing work-ready graduates, allowing our campus community to embrace new technologies and new ways of learning, and shaping our focus on high-impact research that changes lives,” said Professor Leunig.
He added that Curtin Malaysia is embarking on yet another exciting phase of campus expansion that will see the development of a Digital Centre for Excellence, an integrated development with an assemblage of facilities equipped with new technologies for training, group study and meetings.
With these transformative initiatives at its campus, Curtin Malaysia will continue to be a leader in employing innovative learning and teaching approaches and is poised to realise its vision to be a regional leader in education and research.