National teaching awards for online innovators

Published 19 September 2017

Two UNE academics have been recognised with Australian Awards for University Teaching for their innovation and commitment to language education.

Associate Professor Anne-Marie Morgan, Head of School in the School of Education, and Charles Tesoriero Latin lecturer, Dr Sarah Lawrence, received their citations in Sydney last week.

Five years ago A/Prof Morgan established an online network for external UNE language teacher education students. This “community of practice” has helped hundreds to share information, complete assignments, exchange ideas and support one another throughout their studies and into their careers as teachers.

“It’s become a very dynamic and vibrant online community for students and their teachers,” A/Prof Morgan said.

“Our students have achieved high pass rates and taken this model into the schools where they now teach, maintaining conversations with other language teachers within their school and across Australia.

“It’s a fantastic way to share resources and to foster national and international co-operation, and it’s a model that could work equally well in other areas of tertiary education.”

Dr Lawrence is similarly bringing students together to form new connections, express themselves, and collaborate.

Sarah Lawrence writing latin words on a digital whiteboard with her finger

Dr Sarah Lawrence using an interactive whiteboard, one of the tools she utilises to engage with her online Latin students.

She was awarded for introducing a range of initiatives for her Latin students – from evening online classes to intensive schedules that offer opportunities for interaction between students of different years.

“Latin is a hard gig and having a sense of support, and scope to share your passion can help to build a community and reinforce your desire to learn,” Dr Lawrence said.

“You can feel very vulnerable when you are learning a language, especially if you are the first in your family to enrol in university or have been away from formal study for a long time, which is the case with many of our students.

“Our online networks provide a safe space for people to engage and enjoying learning together.”

There have been many positive outcomes from the Latin program on and off-campus. The number of students studying Latin at UNE has risen, they have formed the UNE Classical Association, and more are stepping forward to be involved in peer tutoring and support.

“What we do to improve the educational experiences of our external students tends to improve the experiences of our on-campus students, too,” Dr Lawrence said.