Student engagement is crucial to learning and teaching. When a student is disengaged it is impossible to teach them anything. It also brings to the surface any self-doubt and insecurities you may have in your own practice when a student would rather do anything else but engage in the learning task or topic at hand. So, what do we do? How do we avoid these awkward learning experiences? And how do we innovate education to improve student engagement, learning opportunities and practice?
Professor Kris Ryan Academic Director, Monash Education Innovation from Monash University presented his keynote speech, at Monash Tech Schools recent Principals Strategy Workshop, on this very topic. His response to these questions was simply “Why aren’t we asking the students?”. Students voice is becoming a popular term in education today and for good reason. Providing inclusive opportunities for students to have their say on matters of education not only engages students in deep and meaningful ways but provides the key to truly innovating education. So as Prof. Kris Ryan says Bring on the student!
At Monash University with the help of Prof. Kris Ryan, they have been doing exactly this. From areas such as campus design, course program design, and education technology design; voice and collaborative opportunities have been given to students all the way through. For example, students were involved in the planning of room layouts and even designing informal furniture for the new Learning and Teaching Building at Monash University; students’reshaped and co-developed Undergraduate Engineering course structures and program designs; students have also been assisting in the development of E-assessment exams.
What became clear from Prof. Kris Ryan’s presentation is the irony between education innovation and student engagement. To improve and innovate education, students need to be engaged in the process, however, engaging students in itself requires innovative educational practices. Although some may not see student voice as innovative, it is certainly not afforded by all educators or educational institutions. Student's voice has been a consistent theme throughout my education training at Monash University to date. Listening to Prof. Kris Ryan there’s no doubt Monash University is at the fore of innovation in education, and it was just great to see an institution practising what they preach.
Bring on the student!
written by Jonathon Kloester