Recent webinars:

Student engagement in online environments: what do we know and how do we know it?

Thursday 28th July, 1-2pm (Australian EST)

This webinar explored how web-enabled learning platforms can enhance student engagement, and the limits of current theories and practice on student engagement. It looked at possibilities for using technology-rich learning environments to rethink the architecture of student engagement in online environments.


Dr Stefan Popenici – Senior Lecturer in Higher Education, Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education

Dr. Popenici is an academic with extensive international experience in teaching, research and leadership in higher education in Europe, North America, South East Asia, New Zealand and Australia. His research and work is focused on learning and teaching in higher education, imagination, creativity and change, educational leadership, student engagement, equity and internationalisation of higher education.


Assistive Technologies Improving Learning Access

Thursday 19th November 2015, 10.15am–11.15am (Australian EDT)

A captioned video recording of the webinar on Assistive Technologies Improving Learning Access is available to view below.

The webinar was led by Sharon Kerr, ODLAA Executive Member and manager, Global Access Project, Sydney, Australia, and Peter Fay from IBM Accessibility, Cambridge, MA USA.

Accessibility for Openness and Equity

When we consider that globally up to a quarter of our population will experience disability at some time in their life, the relationship between accessibility and equity of access becomes apparent.

Just as we now have ramps to provide access to our buildings for people using wheelchairs, we can design our online learning in such a way that students with sensory disability can access the full learning experience using assistive technologies.  Being blind, having a hearing loss or  being Deaf, having dyslexia – are no longer reasons not to be able to fully engage with education.  It is not only students with a recognisable disability who can benefit from the use of assistive technologies. Those who are time poor because of work or family commitments, those who have English as a second language are just two examples of people who may prefer to listen to their readings than engaging in a traditional way.

Here is an example of a project funded by the Office of Learning and Teaching demonstrating how utilising inbuilt assistive technologies in hand-held devices can facilitate student engagement:


Sharon Kerr from Global Access Project, Sydney, Australia

Peter Fay from IBM Accessibility, Cambridge, MA USA


Research i-Bytes

Thursday 28th May, 12–1pm (Australian EST)

A sample of some current research going on ‘out there’ from practitioners in open and distance education. Watch their presentations, join in discussion … and maybe form a collaboration for your own future research.

Missed out on the webinar?

Catch up by viewing the recording via Blackboard Collaborate.
(View instructions to download the Launcher needed to view this Collaborate recording.)

Speakers and topics:

Integrity – the problem of Self-Plagiarism

Dr Colleen Halupa (Texas, USA), Director of Curriculum Design & Technology, LeTourneau University, Associate Professor; Doctor of Health Education Program, A.T.Still University

In universities in the U.S. there is a lot of confusion about students recycling work; students believe they own it and it is acceptable. Faculty want original work from all students; however, if curriculum mapping is not done, some assignments may very well lend themselves to students using what they have written before. Many universities have not yet addressed this issue in their academic honesty policies. Self-plagiarism by students has come to the forefront in the last decade with the proliferation of online courses and plagiarism detection programs.

In addition to the debate on if self-plagiarism is an academic honesty defense, the percentage of recycled material is also an issue. How much is too much? Does it need to be cited (even though it has never been published)? This presentation will provide a brief synopsis of a study done at three university campuses with online programs where faculty and students were queried about their perceptions of self-plagiarism.

Inclusivity and universal design

Sharon Kerr (Sydney, Australia), CEO of the Global Access Project (GAP), Higher Education Consulting Group; and a researcher through Sydney University

My research question is: ‘What is the current situation with regard to effective inclusion of Indigenous students with a disability into higher education in Australia?’. Indigenous students with a disability are one of the most vulnerable cohorts of students being served by our institutions. By ensuring that their needs are met, I assert that all students’ needs will be met.

Sharon’s research focuses on the concepts of universal design and cultural safety, two major considerations for online delivery of courses. The research has implications for international students, students with a disability and students from a CALD background.

Interactivity – Perspectives of online discussion boards through different lenses: lecturers, facilitators and students

Tracy Douglas (University of Tasmania, Australia) Lecturer, first year coordinator and associate head (undergraduate studies) in the School of Health Sciences

Susan Salter (University of Tasmania, Australia) Lecturer in the School of Health Sciences

Our presentation describes current research findings from two different research projects. What is the nature of interactivity in online discussion boards and what difference do role and purpose make? We will present the perspectives of online discussion boards from discussion board facilitators, students engaged in facilitated discussion boards, students engaged in non-facilitated discussion boards, and lecturers using discussion boards to communicate as part of a research project.

Implicit to explicit – Challenges in researching learning design for distance education

Diane Hockridge (Sydney, Australia), Online Educational Designer, Ridley College, Melbourne, Macquarie University

Design based research is an increasingly used methodology in educational research, yet its methods and practices are not as clearly established as some other research methodologies. This can be challenging for researchers. Similarly, research in the field of Learning Design often brings up challenging questions around evaluation, analysis and representation of learning designs: how can we rigorously evaluate and analyse learning designs? How do we determine whether learning designs are meeting their objectives? How can we represent and share learning designs in a way that’s helpful for other educators?

Diane will talk about some of these challenges in the context of her research which is exploring how educators in the discipline of theology can design distance learning to provide a holistic, formative education for students.


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