Integrated Learning at Melbourne Business School

29/11/2015
Ellen Sullivan, Consultant of Integrated Learning at Melbourne Business School is driven by offering innovative ways to deliver online learning to MBS participants.
 
 

“We’re aware of how much our participants want to achieve and how busy they are. We want to deliver learning that’s most accessible for them, whether it’s online or face to face.”

Online learning is an area where many educational institutions are still experimenting and finding their feet. Whilst many are still working with an ‘e-learning’ methodology (think passive and unengaging mandatory training that is statically delivered) MBS is moving forward with the latest thinking in the online learning space.

“The beauty of online learning is it provides knowledge at your fingertips. You can access anything you need anywhere, at any time. It can be engaging and motivating when done right.”

There are so many ways to offer online learning that it creates an endless spectrum of possibilities. Ellen mentions MBS delivers wholly online learning experiences and also blends online with face-to-face learning in such a way that participants can grasp and prepare core skills and knowledge before they enter the room.

“By delivering theoretical content online, we can create efficiencies for our time in the room, using face-to-face time to make sense of the theory and focus on how it can be applied in the workplace.”

Ellen highlights the key principles MBS observes when creating online courses.

Principle #1: Learner-centred.

Above all, online learning at MBS is learner-centred. The courses MBS creates and delivers are designed to provide the best learning experiences for participants within the context of their lives. MBS is aware of how much their participants want to achieve and therefore structure courses which are accessible for them.

“We understand what the day-to-day life of our participant looks like - busy. Our solutions need to fit into their lives. This is where we start when thinking about designing online experiences. The needs of our learners are core to the offering we design.”

Principle #2: Self-paced and motivational.

Ellen asserts that everything online must be self-paced and motivational so each participant can personalise their learning. Content is delivered in ‘bite-sized’ chunks, for example, each video is just a few minutes long. This ensures participants can access content in a manner of their choosing, which leads to greater adoption and engagement with the content.

 The self-motivated online student is also carefully supported by MBS with regular responsive check-ins and calls to action, which allows the school to monitor the progress of participants without interfering with self-paced learning.

Principle #3: Interactivity and high quality content.

Interactivity and high quality content is a must, Ellen says. MBS uses action orientated teaching methodologies in combination with a variety of different instructional media, including videos, webinars, video calls, and different applications to ensure participants are stimulated to be active in their learning experience.

“Well-produced digital content is everywhere these days and there is no excuse for poorly produced material, participants’ expectations are so much higher than they once were.”

Principle #4: Social Learning.

MBS also works hard to ensure that there’s a strong element of social learning underpinning each online offering. Without the lecture hall environment that makes peer and educator engagement a natural extension of the campus experience, MBS online courses are designed to encourage interaction and collaboration. Ellen explains that the goal is to encourage participants to access each other’s expertise, reinforce the learning provided in the course, and provide ongoing support once the course is complete, all in a remote context.

“The supportive relationship we provide our participants online is second to none. We incorporate educator-led and peer-learning into all our online designs to foster relationships, critical thinking and reflection. Developing this community is so important as it ensures our participants have a supportive community to tap into once a program ends.”

With the online learning programs at MBS supported by these principles, Ellen believes that the school can deliver learner-centred education that truly embeds the change and growth that participants are seeking.

“Overall our aim is to deliver continuous learning in small, incremental ways so our participants can grow and develop without investing large chunks of their time whilst at work. We constantly measure the impact we’re having online so we can continue to build and develop our online offerings.”