Into Uni: Learnline in Colleges
Thirty curriculum units are live with over 700 students enrolled
Into Uni is a three-year program at Charles Darwin University (CDU), funded by the HEPPP and run in partnership with Kormilda College in Darwin, and Centralian Senior College (CSC) and Centralian Middle School in Alice Springs (schools with significant numbers of Indigenous students). Into Uni encourages Indigenous students, particularly those from lower socio-economic backgrounds, to complete school and progress into higher studies.
An important part of this encouragement is the removal of systematic barriers. A major feature of higher education is the use of online Learning Management Systems (LMS – CDU’s is called Learnline). Students can find using an LMS daunting, particularly if they have limited previous experience with them. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the LMS is a deterrent to university for people more familiar with traditional face-to-face methods of learning. Even students who do progress to CDU can find using Learnline difficult, sometimes leading to withdrawal from study.
Effective use of an LMS can significantly enhance access to quality content, learning activities, peer interaction, and facilitate more targeted monitoring and support of student progress by academic staff. Almost all higher education units at CDU are supported with Learnline.
One Into Uni project is Learnline in Colleges (LLiC). This project brings Learnline into Kormilda College and CSC, to demystify the technology by introducing it to students in a familiar classroom setting. This is enabled through CDU sharing access to Learnline (including technical and user support) and providing professional development for staff.
There are several objectives to LLiC:
- to assist school students to develop effective study skills using Learnline and associated digital technologies and resources
- to engender in school students a positive view of LMS-enabled learning
- to thereby remove concerns of students and their families about LMS as a barrier to their higher education aspirations, and
- to facilitate a smooth transition from school into university study.
To achieve these objectives, two collateral objectives are to:
- support schools in improving their teaching design and delivery using Learnline, and
- improve CDU’s understanding of Learnline through learning from the schools’ experiences.
LLiC is fully funded by the HEPPP, providing licences, continuous helpdesk support, time-release for staff to develop their online units and resources, and professional development.
Key input and process measures for LLiC are student and staff satisfaction with Learnline, and the uptake of Learnline in schools. Key outcome measures for LLiC are:
- changes in attitudes (using focus group methods) towards university study
- tracking the change in the number of Indigenous students who enrol in higher education courses in future years and the retention rate within these courses.
The program is currently 60 per cent complete. As at September 2013, 30 curriculum units are live with over 700 students enrolled. An additional 600 students are enrolled in an orientation unit. Student feedback to date has been very positive, however it is too soon to measure the impact of the project on progression.
41% of Northern Territory students identified as Indigenous in 2010. 47% of Indigenous students progress to year 12, compared with 79% non-Indigenous nationally.
Learnline in Colleges demystifies the technology by introducing it to students in the context of a familiar classroom setting. 1,400 secondary students enrolled in at least one Learnline unit in 2013. 120 teachers are receiving professional development in online learning methods and strategies.
Maintaining study can be a challenge for Indigenous students drawn back to their communities for extended periods. In addition to the core LMS, Learnline includes a range of associated interactive technologies including Learnline Mobile. The next step for LLiC is to explore how these technologies may assist students in maintaining contact with their school and studies while they are not on campus.
This case study is one of a series of 39 presented in our case study publication, Access and Participation in Higher Education: Outreach – Access – Support.