UNE is leading the way in preparing their graduates for the workplace with the first workplace learning program (alternate reality gaming environment) developed by UNE accounting lecturer Leopold Bayerlein.
Replicating a ‘real life’ workplace online, the purpose built learning environment is designed to support students by providing in situ scenarios and content, focusing on the development of practical skills. This allows students a self paced online learning experience while supporting UNE’s strategy to create flexible and interactive online learning scenarios.
The project was developed in response to feedback from former students and potential employers in the local business community who highlighted the need for the development of practical skills and understanding of interactions between concepts to further improve the work readiness of graduates.
The program features several types of video content and accompanying academic content. This includes topic-specific engagement videos centred on a main case study (lasting from between 1-7 minutes), pre-recorded ‘lectures’ (from a workplace perspective) and previous example database content with questions and step-by-step solutions linked to theory.
This content ensure students meet the same learning outcomes as before in a non-threatening environment – encouraging students to think back to the basics, ask colleagues and friends for help or pose questions using online forums.
The project also assists lecturers to break down barriers and encourages students, particularly international students, to feel comfortable approaching their lecturers without fear of offense.
Leopold Bayerlein says “If students are encouraged to interact with their teacher and feel that questions, comments and feedback are welcome and encouraged they can get so much more out of the course and maximise their learning outcomes.”
Activities, assignments and exams in the program are also presented from the perspective of a workplace. Students will receive weekly emails prompting them to complete online tasks based on the workplace scenario, including things like emails from their supervisor or colleagues.
UNE are currently monitoring student feedback and the learning outcomes achieved by students with hopes to publish findings in peer reviewed academic literature in the second half of 2013. Student testers are currently working through the alternate reality learning environment and feedback has been positive.
On 6 March 2013, The University of New England hosted a showcase event at Booloominbah, to discuss the project, attracting approximately 50 guests from across UNE, the Armidale (and regional) business community and business studies coordinators/career advisors from local high schools.