ABSTRACT: Applying authoritative command of field, Jason Harding integrated five distinct contributions that influenced, motivated, inspired student learning, and subsequently produced exponential increases in perception of ‘Information Systems For Service Industries’ (1220HSL). Jason’s contributions over a two year period included: 1. Implementation of knowledgeable, enthusiastic teaching. 2. Overhaul of course content and assessment. 3. Extensive application of Learning@Griffith capabilities. 4. Launch and integration of www.1220hsl.com and associated social media. 5. Roll out of interactive i-Pad-based lectures. Changes were based on command of field, innovative thinking, and critical reflection on official SEC / SET results, and his own unofficial student surveys. The impact produced by these initiatives was substantial. The course and Jason’s teaching now routinely hold a Rating Interpretation Benchmark of ‘High’ for all SEC and SET questions respectively.
FULL CITATION: At the end of Semester 1, 2010 the course, ‘Information Systems For Service Industries’ (1220HSL) was generating a student-based Rating Interpretation Benchmark (RIB) of ‘Low’ for all official Student Evaluation of Course (SEC) questions across both the Gold Coast and Nathan campuses (Figure 2). At the end of Semester 1, 2012 (approximately two years after Jason Harding began his involvement), the exact same course (for which Jason is now the Primary Convenor, beginning in Semester 2, 2011) and his personal teaching techniques now routinely hold an RIB ranking of ‘High’ for all SEC and SET questions respectively (Figure 2). This significant, rapid improvement is a direct result of five specific contributions implemented by Jason over a two year period:
In Semester 2, 2010 Jason was employed as a sessional staff member and tutor for the course on the Nathan campus, subsequently conducting the majority of tutorials. By simply implementing knowledgeable and extremely enthusiastic delivery of the course’s then current content into the tutorials throughout that semester, his impact as a teacher was immediate, contributing to the increases in student-based RIB ranking of this particular course to ‘Medium’ for most of the official SEC questions in that semester (Figure 2) and obtaining ‘Medium’ to ‘High’ rankings for his own personal Student Evaluation of Teaching (SET) questions (see Appendix, SET’s, Semester 2, 2010). He made it extremely clear that teacher enthusiasm goes a long way toward engaging students and satisfying some of their needs as noted by the following student comment, ‘Encouragement, experience, and also a passion for the content taught were evident in Jason’s teaching style. No question was insignificant and students were not scared to make an approach. The way course content was explained made learning easy’ (SET’s, Semester 2, 2010). Jason did, however, perceive that a more targeted effort was required to demonstrate a command of the field and furthermore, provide a reason for (and therefore inspire) students to learn.
In Semester 1, 2011, JasonI obtained a permanent lecturing position within Griffith University and was appointed the role of Course Convenor for 1220HSL on the Nathan campus. He immediately built upon the knowledgeable and enthusiastic teaching delivery methods he had implemented in the previous semester and, although not his primary responsibility, began a complete overhaul of the course’s theoretical and practical content and the course’s associated assessment items. The focus of the overhaul was to align the content being taught more closely with what was being assessed and moreover, demonstrate to students the relevance of both the theoretical and practical components of the course to success in university and their future careers. Although course content and coupled assessment items continually undergo a process of reflection and adaption each semester, the following statement is how Jason would now explain the underlying ideology of 1220HSL:
1220HSL is focussed on how technology can be used to achieve specific business goals. It targets the business contexts of tourism, hotel, sports and events industries, however, can be easily be utilised in any business context. There is a strong focus on developing student’s abilities to generate effective and innovative information management solutions in their future careers, however the course also focuses on developing student’s abilities to succeed in university. For example, although the course’s conceptual content is focussed on technology (websites, online marketing techniques, e-commerce, the use of social media in business, innovative methods with which to gather, store, and utilise information on a business’s clientele, how technology can be used to manage and deliver information) and this is important in today’s rapidly changing and somewhat converged business environment, the theoretical and practical content is, for the most part, just the platform used to provide knowledge and skills in three main areas. Demonstrable proficiency in these three main areas and the coupled assessment items (detailed below) is believed to provide students a competitive advantage in their future careers:
In Semester 1, 2011, Jason additionally implemented extensive, extremely organised, and heavily targeted use of Griffith University’s blackboard system, Learning @ Griffith (Figure 1), in order to provide students structured access to course information, lecture content, lecture recordings, assessment information, and routine course announcements (which were written in a clear, concise, engaging and inspiring manner). Whilst doing this assisted students to stay up to date with the course, access anything they required with ease, and enhanced his capacity to engage with the student cohort on a different level, it also acted as a demonstrable example of the importance of offering information and resources in a neat, tidy, and easily accessible manner when communicating online with your target market; something Jason had been trying to get across in lectures and when talking about their third assignment task (‘The Website Project’).
As a result of these two distinct contributions implemented in Semester 1, 2011, the impact on the course SEC’s and Jason’s personal SET’s was again, both immediate and substantial, increasing the student-based RIB ranking of this particular course to ‘High’ for all official Student Evaluation of Course (SEC) questions (Figure 2), increasing the student-based RIB ranking of his personal teaching to ‘High’ for all official Student Evaluation of Teaching (SET) questions (SET’s, Semester 1, 2011), and generating student comments on the course itself such as, ‘I thoroughly enjoyed the course and found it to be structured and taught extremely well. It engaged me in learning with clear and precise direction. The assessment items were interesting and ensured multiple facets of students abilities were assessed’ (SEC’s, Semester 1, 2011), and his personal teaching such as ‘He was concise, clear, and he talked about information in the real world!’, ‘Jason’s teaching style was engaging. He used his own experiences to demonstrate real world application of topics. I thoroughly enjoyed the subject’ and ‘I found that he connected with students. He was interested to hear their opinions and learn about them. You can tell he knows what he is talking about’ (SET’s, Semester 1, 2011).
In semester 2, 2011, Jason was appointed as the Primary Convenor for the course and once again, built upon the previous semester’s altered course structure, content, assessment, and communication techniques. Resultant of the technological focus of 1220HSL, he believed the course lent itself to delivering learning outcomes in an innovative manner. Subsequently, Jason registered, launched and integrated an external website, www.1220hsl.com (using the same publishing software the students were required to use for their ‘ Website Project’) and two coupled social media pages, the ‘1220hsl Facebook Page’ and the ‘1220hsl Twitter Page’ (Figure 1). The two primary reasons for implementing this contribution was to provide students with a demonstrable, live example of how technology can be used to manage and deliver information quickly and to a wide audience (a strong, assessable theme within the course) and also to enhance the level of communication and engagement with the student cohort. In a large part, this contribution was a pure marketing approach in that if we view students as our clientele, then we need to convey our message in the environments where they routinely integrate and interact. In today’s converged society these environments are more often than not online, and almost all of today’s tertiary-level students are extremely well connected, capable, and confident of conducting personal and professional activities in digital environments. This contribution again had an immediate positive impact on course SEC’s (Figure 2) and generated student comments such as ‘The diversity of sources to study and follow lecture content is fantastic’, and ‘Jason’s [sic] use of social media is far ahead of other lecturers’ (SEC’s, SET’s, Semester 2, 2011).
Figure 1. Online communication and engagement techniques implemented by Jason Harding into the course 1220HSL (left to right, Learning @ Griffith Course Website, 1220HSL Website, 1220HSL Facebook, 1220HSL Twitter).
In Semester 1, 2012, with the assistance, support, and a grant from the Blended Learning Group, Jason was additionally able to roll out a pilot project (‘The Lectorial Project’) focussed on interactive i-Pad based lectures. The fact that he had already altered a number of specific 1220HSL lectures so they comprised an equal mix of conceptual knowledge and applied practical skills made this concept more than just intuitively appealing. It made it practically relevant. The underlying idea was to allow students the use of portable computing equipment to follow content during theoretical components of lectures (I use a large amount of hyperlinks and online resources in 1220HSL lectures) but also allow students to work alongside when practical skills are delivered (the Third Assignment, ‘The Website Project’, is created using an online publishing platform). Part charity (not all students own or have access to portable computing devices), part large scale interactivity; this concept aims to challenge the status quo associated with lecture delivery and ultimately turn lecture theatres into large scale ‘lectorials’ focussed on relevant, practical skills. Although no further discernible increases in either course SEC or Jason;s personal SET results were evidenced as a result of this specific contribution (Figure 2), ‘The Lectorial Project’ was positively perceived by students as an innovative aspect of the course, as noted by the following response, ‘I, any one actually, can have an i-Pad if they do not own a laptop so we can actually do what Jason is doing in the lecture at the same time. The use of i-Pads in lectures is a really good idea’ (SEC’s and SET’s, Semester 1, 2012).
Figure 2. Changes in average 1220HSL SEC’s. Engaged: ‘This course engaged me in learning’; Organised: ‘This course was well organised’; Satisfied: ‘Overall I am satisfied with quality of this course’; L: Low RIB; M: Medium RIB; H: High RIB (RIB: Rating Interpretation Benchmark, comparison of courses, same group/size, 200+ students).
Although numerous other ideas and concepts were trialled within 1220HSL over the past two years, each of the five specific contributions detailed within this application have now become a standard component of the course’s underlying structure. This is a result of the contributions being incrementally implemented each semester based upon critical reflection and the subsequent adaptation of course ideals. This has afforded each contribution to be implemented upon a progressively stronger course foundation. The increasingly positive (and extremely high) student perceptions of the course are a direct result of the specific contributions outlined in this application, are evidence of Jason Harding’s command of the field, and have certainly influenced, motivated, and inspired students to learn as noted by the following comments, ‘It was great experience towards my degree, extremely relevant material. I loved it’ and ‘Jason is [sic] an awesome lecturer, thank you’.