CDU targets flexible learning with $2.8m grant 


The quality of teaching and learning at Charles Darwin University will be boosted considerably with a $2.867 million grant from the Australian Government.

The funding, announced this week by Education Minister Julia Gillard, is part of $111.5 million the Government is injecting into the country’s universities to encourage greater specialisation and to promote diversity within the sector.

CDU, which has experienced an unprecedented demand for flexible and on-line learning in recent years, will use the grant to better meet the demands of external students and employers.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Teaching and Learning), Professor Charles Webb said the University’s external enrolments had increased by more than 75% in the past five years and the grant would help to embed leading-edge technology in on-line courses.

As part of the initiative, CDU would involve international specialists in reviewing its on-line units and staff would undergo specialist training in flexible delivery strategies.

“We are expecting a significant improvement in the experiences students have at CDU as a result of this project,” Professor Webb said.

“We predict that our external enrolments will continue to track as they have for the past few years, so this ‘Achieving Best Practice Flexible Provision at CDU’ project is essential in ensuring we can meet the demand for quality delivery of teaching.

“It will also position the University to be more responsive to the needs of the local and national labour markets,” he said.

During the two-year improvement program, the University will work in partnership with Blackboard Australia to build on and expand its use of the internationally recognised Blackboard e-learning system that offers leading-edge management of teaching and learning.

Part of the project will see CDU working with the University of Western Sydney to improve the effectiveness of flexible learning approaches for students from equity groups including Indigenous Australians.

Professor Webb said that, overall, the project would mean a significant step towards CDU providing a rich resource-based and technology-mediated approach to teaching and learning which would better meet the needs of employers and students.

The grant comes from the Federal Government’s 2008 Diversity and Structural Adjustment Fund.