Programs in areas of economic growth prove popular

By Adam Joyce

STEMM students

South Australians are gaining new skills through programs subsided by the Federal Government as part of a plan to boost the economy in response to the pandemic.

Hundreds of students have taken up the offer at UniSA with the most popular program being the Graduate Certificate in Education Studies (Digital Learning). More than 100 students are undertaking the graduate certificate in 2021, which is delivered online.

The program is one of few digital learning-focused postgraduate qualifications in Australia and is designed for qualified educators interested in developing their knowledge, understanding and skills to design, implement and evaluate digital learning environments in educational settings.

Adam Biggs

St Michael’s College teacher Adam Biggs, who began the graduate certificate in April, says he hopes it will ultimately help him improve student achievement, satisfaction and engagement.

“I believe learning analytics is the future of education … we can use them to improve student learning outcomes and better ensure student retention,” Biggs says.

Biggs, who teaches middle school science, mathematics and religion, and senior school biology, psychology and nutrition, hopes the course will help him make more of an impact through his teaching and support his longer-term ambition to pursue a leadership role.

He says the program has been positive but prospective students need to be ready to commit the time needed to do well.

“It can be difficult to juggle the workload of these courses while working fulltime, especially while being involved in other projects at my workplace,” Biggs says.

Dr David Caldwell

Program director Dr David Caldwell says the program combines cutting-edge theory and practice in digital learning, including the latest developments in information technology, software and Learning Management Systems, with best practice in teaching in digital learning.  

“We have world-leading experts in digital learning teaching on the program and giving guest lectures,” Dr Caldwell says.

This includes connections with members of UniSA’s Centre for Change and Complexity in Learning, which is focused on the complex relationship between human and artificial cognition, how it changes society, knowledge processes, and teaching and learning.

Catholic Education South Australia education adviser for technologies Deb Kroeger says the graduate certificate provides a valuable, research-based learning opportunity for teachers to expand their knowledge and understanding of digital learning in an education context.

“The experience of online and remote learning throughout the COVID pandemic has further emphasised the need for a strong foundation in digital learning practices,” she says.

“As a student of the graduate certificate I have found the online, self-paced delivery works to my advantage, allowing me to choose when and how I learn. I have found the subjects to be relevant, informative and backed up by sound research.”

Pulteney Grammar deputy principal for teaching and learning Katherine Adnett says the graduate certificate has been a great way for the school’s academic staff to refresh their teaching knowledge and to gain exposure to academic writings and practical applications.

“Our teachers have found that having the complete course set up online and readily accessible from day one, has greatly facilitated the ease of transition between academic studies and the daily demands of teaching practice so that teachers are able to plan out the term ahead,” Adnett says.

“Both students and teachers have benefited from the experience and the small community of practice that has been nurtured through the partnership with UniSA.”

The Australian Government is providing additional Commonwealth Supported Places across a range of programs in 2021. The aim is to support those who are looking to retrain, change career or upskill in economic growth areas to prepare the nation and workforce to move out of the economic downturn.