The future of learning is enhanced flexibility, both online and off

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The future of learning is enhanced flexibility, both online and off

In a world that is demanding a greater level of flexibility, UOW is taking steps to make study far more accessible to a broader range of people beyond our current student drawing regions. This ambition has led to the launch of UOW Online: an initiative to deliver innovative learning experiences for students in an engaging online campus.

As part of the pilot, UOW developed two niche courses; the Graduate Certificate in Biofabrication and Graduate Certificate in Maritime Studies; as well as offering the Graduate Certificate in Business.

UOW Online Project Manager, Dr Alison Freeman says all three courses currently on offer have vastly different target audiences.

Alison says the University is considering how it can be even more adaptable in its product development, to ensure it maintains pace with progressive workforce demands.

“The UOW Online Steering Committee is keen to explore new interdisciplinary degrees to be offered - as work environments change and there is a greater need for versatility, how can we offer postgrad options that meet the breadth of people’s needs, rather than just locking them into one study area?

“It’s looking at how we can take the variety of disciplines across campus and package them up in different ways to offer far more flexibility for students and meet the needs of tomorrow,” Alison says.

In tandem with the UOW Online initiative, UOW is actively exploring the potential to develop its micro-credential and online professional development portfolio. Micro-credentials entail a short period of interactive teaching and learning followed by an assessment.

“The University has an opportunity to incorporate continuing professional development that meets industry needs with pathways to fully online course. We now have a number of faculties wanting to offer these micro-credentials and professional development online.

“Industry expectations are changing; so are the needs of students. Professional development and a genuine commitment to lifelong learning will be key in the 21st Century. As a sector, you can see the move towards micro-credentials with international markets like New Zealand leading the way,” Alison says.

As for the future of tertiary study, Dr Freeman believes face to face learning will continue to hold its ground, with many courses relying on practical and group course-work. She says the two learning methods need to support each other.

“There will always be those people who love to come to a classroom and have that campus environment experience. Market research is telling us that, moving forward, both online and face to face students will be seeking more flexibility in their studies.

“We’re looking at how to build that flexibility for UOW Online. We’ve started by offering courses and subjects in a similar timeframe model to face to face learning, but as we look to the future, we’re exploring how we can let students move in and out of study around their work and personal commitments,” Alison explains.

The online course portfolio is rapidly growing. Two new courses from the Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health will be launched online in Autumn 2019.

UOW Online is also working with staff across the University as existing distance courses move to the UOW Online campus and these students gain access to advice and support through the Online Student Central, 7 days a week.