Pecha Kucha Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia 2015

Introducing a new version of synchronous communication software for teaching and learning: a Digital Learning team facilitates change through professional development (#312)

Gail Fluker 1 , Aleisha Ting 1
  1. Deakin University, Geelong, VIC, Australia

Abstract Content (up to 300 words recommended)

This poster demonstrates how an Australian University undertook a professional development transition as part of an upgrade to its online classroom software. This software was to be used by staff conducting synchronous teaching and learning activities with students. A Digital Learning team were tasked with providing professional development workshops to provide hands-on experience with the new software in a teaching and learning framework; resources to demonstrate differences between the two systems; while providing communication to the faculties of the University about the transition. This complex process was undertaken within the context of a University wide project to co-ordinate and manage change with a central information technology division while working closely with faculties and other stakeholders.

The approach taken by the Digital Learning team as part of the project team in facilitating change is evidenced in a review of current literature including that of Fasso (2013) who in relating the introduction of synchronous communication in online learning to an undergraduate university course noted 'working with new technology required a change management approach that was personal and supportive, and embedded into the broader institutional context' (Fasso, 2013, p. 42).

It was recognized teachers require 'the pedagogical methods that facilitate student learning, and the specific ways in which technology can support those methods' (Ertmer & Ottenbreit-Leftwich, 2010, p. 260).

Feedback was sought through means of an online survey to identify effectiveness of the professional development workshops and to use in a process of ongoing improvement of the sessions.

A total of 131 workshops were facilitated in 2014 with 1118 participants.  Feedback voluntarily provided by participants demonstrated the effectiveness of the workshops in meeting the needs of those using the upgraded synchronous software. The workshops also supported the context of university course enhancement especially in development of digital literacy skills.

Addressing the theme/s of the Conference (up to 200 words recommended)

The poster addresses the conference theme ‘Navigating uncertainty and complexity’ in its illustration of the Digital Learning Team’s approach to effectively introducing a synchronous learning platform to faculties, teaching staff and professional staff in the University, while working to overcome natural apprehensiveness of adoption of new software in an already complex digital environment. This was achieved by the Digital Learning Team working with the larger project team at the University coordinated by an information technology division representative, with faculty representatives who raised teaching and learning as well as practical issues in the implementation of the software; and addressing stakeholder concerns while developing a professional development workshop and resources to enhance participants’ understanding and confidence in using the new platform for teaching and learning. A key approach used in navigating through uncertainty and complexity was to pilot the initially developed workshop and resources with faculty representatives and implement their valuable feedback in the completed workshop and resources which were then ready to present to the University community in readiness for the launch of the new synchronous software.

  1. Ertmer, P. A., & Ottenbreit-Leftwich, A.T. (2010). Teacher Technology Change: how Knowledge, Confidence, Beliefs, and Culture Intersect. ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education), 42(3), 255-284. Retrieved August 20, 2014, from
  2. Faso, W. (2013). First year Distance Transition Pedagogy: Synchronous online classrooms. The International Journal of the First Year in Higher Education, 4(1), 33-45. Retrieved August 20, 2014 from
Download Presentation