English Australia Journal : English Australia Journal 28.2
Volume 28 No 2 23 English Australia Journal involving projects, exploratory investigations, workshops, seminars and more standard academic tasks such as reports and critical reviews. In this approach there is a strong concern to assist students to develop their understanding of learning theories and related teaching approaches so as to be able to react intelligently to the vast array of available online information, whatever their field of study. As Dina Nihad observed, ‘ We have learnt a lot in terms of integrating online learning methods with the traditional in-class lecture.’ Much of the course was conducted through electronic modes such as: Blackboard (iLearn), a course blog, a discussion board, an AUS LibGuide*, websites, and by use of other online teaching resources, in order to demonstrate and build knowledge about digital teaching and learning. However, face-to-face learning was an important aspect of the course, both in the regular classes and also in the practical and collaborative learning tasks which were significant elements of the course requirements. The course was conducted in a manner that sought to develop a ‘community of practice’ (Wenger, 1998) by strong emphasis on professionalism and ethics. As an educator, I favour this situated learning approach which engages students in active, socially oriented learning and provides opportunities for the integration of new knowledge into existing understandings. These are the fundamental tools for enabling lifelong learning (OECD, 2004). Such learning principles sit well with the AUS General Education program goals cited earlier. The approach contrasts with the transmission model of education prevalent in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region. The students EDU307 in Fall 2011 comprised a class of 18 students from three different colleges at AUS; 10 female and eight male students. The students were a mixture of sophomores (two students), juniors (five students) and seniors (eleven students), with five students in their final semester. Seven students were from the College of Arts and Sciences with one student studying Literature and Language and the remaining six studying Mass Communication. Nine students were from the College of Engineering and two students were from the School of Business Management studying Business Administration. In keeping with the American model of Higher Education, students at AUS need to complete humanities and social sciences requirements as components of their undergraduate study. The structure of programs at AUS generally precludes a combination of majors in a course; it is usually only in elective courses that this occurs. The students valued the mix of majors: ‘Working with students from other majors has been really constructive’ (Rana Salah, Literature and Language senior). Apart from the pragmatic reason of degree structure for choosing EDU307, students were interested in the course objectives as they relate to workplace needs following graduation.
English Australia Journal 30.1
English Australia Journal 28.1