The educational landscape in Australia is going through a period of rapid change. National and international imperatives are driving universities to transform both what they teach and how they teach. One aspect of this transformation involves the use of technology to facilitate student learning and engagement. To address this particular challenge, a six-month project to progress the incorporation of technology in teaching was offered in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computing (SEEC), at Curtin University, Western Australia. Nine academics, with different backgrounds and levels of experience, enrolled in the project with the objective of using technology to transform one aspect of a unit. Six academics completed both the pre- and post-surveys.
A research project was established to investigate the participants’ journey from learning new tools to adopting them in their teaching. The objective was to identify the elements of the professional development process that facilitated or impeded their journey.
The project used pre- and post-project questionnaires to capture participants’ perceptions of how the project met their expectations. Questions were designed to cover various aspects of a typical learning journey; time spent, previous knowledge, learning anxiety, and confidence. Responses were tallied to determine if a shift in perception had occurred.
All participants acknowledged that some degree of learning happened while adopting technology in their teaching. The main obstacle reported was the difficulty in finding time to learn the tools and then applying them to transforming one aspect of their units. However, with timely and personalised support all participants were able to make enough time to learn and apply new technology in their teaching.
The main findings of this research are presented in this paper as take-home messages that may inform the design of professional development programs. Findings suggest that the most important element is having an environment that is academic-centred, work-integrated, and offers freedom of choice.
Transforming learning with technology, professional development, community of practice.