Curtin University of Technology Western Australia (AUSTRALIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2010 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Pages: 2767-2775
ISBN: 978-84-614-2439-9
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 3rd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 15-17 November, 2010
Location: Madrid, Spain
Whether one is a proponent or opponent of e-Learning, presenting its benefits to both educators and students is the overall aim of this paper. The format for e-Learning is relatively new when compared to the “talk and chalk” or “PowerPoint and whiteboard”. Hence both educators and students are all still on somewhat of a learning curve in gaining optimum benefit. Many of its opponents are not yet convinced e-Learning is as effective as alternative learning formats such as face to face engagement.

Using qualitative and quantitative data, the paper presents the benefits and challenges across a range of learning and teaching aspects of the online program, Learning Employment Aptitudes Program (LEAP). We will address issues from technical and administrative management to curricula development, learning resources and student-moderator communication. The paper will also discuss the technology applied to present and administer the program. Most significantly, we note and discuss the importance of honest and open two way communication between students and educators – reciprocal learning exchange. This is critical to the overall success and future development of the program. A unique aspect of the program is that all students are enrolled in Doctoral (higher degree research) programs which provide a diverse and sophisticated student group that contributes to vigorous and challenging interactions.

The LEAP (Learning Employment Aptitudes Program) is an initiative of the Australian Technology Network (ATN) of universities which is an alliance of five distinctive and prominent Australian universities located in each mainland State: Curtin University of Technology Western Australia; Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology; Queensland University of Technology; University of South Australia; and University of Technology Sydney. The program which has been running since 2003 is targeted at post graduate research students and their supervisors. ATN LEAP provides students the opportunity to improve their employment skills while they undertake their research degree, by completing self-paced interactive online modules. The units offered include: Leadership and Communication; Project Management; Entrepreneurship; Research Commercialisation; Public Policy; and Global Sustainability. Each participating university is responsible for the design, development and delivery of a unit offered. The program is provided through a collective initiative called the e-Grad School whose stakeholders are the five ATN universities. LEAP received the 2007 Australian Learning and Teaching Council award for Postgraduate Education.

LEAP students’ profiles are highly diverse representing countries from all over the globe. They include students whose English is their first language and many where English is a second or even third language. The student cohort includes Australian and overseas born, all of whom can participate in the program either from their residences in Australia or overseas. On completion of the LEAP, students are offered participation into the ATN Graduate Certificate in Research Commercialisation, a credentialed course, offered to Doctoral, post-Doctoral and Masters level students.
e-learning Experiences, Learning and Teaching Innovations, University Partnerships.