Teaching and Learning with Technology: Pushing Boundaries and Breaking down Walls

Pro-Chancellor – Mr Winston Thompson, Act. Deputy Vice-Chancellor Prof Jito Vanualailai, PVC Prof Som Naidu

The Centre for Flexible Learning hosted a series of activities during the week of 2-6 March to celebrate Open Education Week 2020. One of the major events for the week was the launch of an open-access publication titled: Teaching and Learning with Technology: Pushing boundaries and breaking down walls. The book contains eleven chapters highlighting research undertaken by several staff members and students of the University of the South Pacific on the influences of online and digitally enhanced learning and teaching at the university.

The Pro Vice-Chancellor, Flexible Learning and Director- Centre for Flexible Learning, Professor Som Naidu welcomed and addressed more than 60 participants to the book launch that included the authors,  senior management team, faculty heads, representatives from schools, staff from various departments as well as students. In addressing the participants, Professor Naidu spoke about the goals of open education initiatives, open access, open learning and open scholarship.

This was followed with further exploration of the concept Open Education Resources (OERs) by Mr. Deepak Bhartu (Open Education Design Architect). Mr. Bhartu explained what OERs meant and discussed the various forms of Creative Commons Licenses available.

Afterwards, Professor Naidu gave an overview of the book from its genesis to its publication. He stated that the book captures the scholarship of teaching and learning where the contributors explored and investigated the current research and practices in the field of technology-enhanced learning.  The contributions in the book captures the engagement of practitioners in this process.

Book Authors

The highlight of the event was the presentations by the authors themselves, who gave brief accounts of their experience. These included:

  • Mr. Eroni Racule (Centre for Flexible Learning): Evaluating students’ perceptions of blended learning;
  • Dr. Nicholas Halter (School of Social Sciences, FALE): Engaging with living histories;
  • Pita Tuisawau (Centre for Flexible Learning): Collaborative reading online with Perusall;
  • Mr. Krishan Kumar (School of Computing, Information and Mathematical Sciences, FSTE): Use of  peer assessment for formative assessments in large classes in higher education institutes;
  • Dr. Rajni Chand (School of Language, Arts and Media, FALE): “It rains a lot here”: Online assessments versus Mother Nature; 
  • Dr. Irene Yee Chief (Centre for Flexible Learning): Supporting flexible assessment of competencies with ePortfolios;
  • Mr. Evan Naqiolevu (Centre for Flexible Learning): Researching learning and teaching technologies for flexible learning;
  • Ms Tilisi Bryce (School of Language, Arts and Media, FALE): Supporting the transition to tertiary studies: How students engage with academic literacy;
  • Mr. Sarvesh Chand and Mr. Divnesh Prasad (School of Engineering and Physics, FSTE): Providing equal educational opportunities with a technology-based scholarship platform.

The Pro-Chancellor, Mr Winston Thompson, a keen advocate of the adoption of technology-enhanced learning and teaching as well as the scholarship of teaching, also attended the event. In his remarks following the presentations, Chancellor Thompson congratulated Professor Naidu and his team for spearheading the Technology-enhanced Learning (TeL) initiative at USP. He also commended the authors of the book for their presentations, and their work in supporting the University Council’s responsibilities and aspirations for promoting best practices in learning and teaching throughout our region as innovatively as much as possible.

The book was formally launched by the Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education, Professor Jito Vanualailai who stated that the research undertaken and reported in this book is ‘one of the first research done by an entity outside the academic sections’ at USP.

Professor Vanualailai commended the efforts of the authors and congratulated Professor Naidu for championing research into Technology-enhanced learning and investigating how ICTs can be used to leverage learning and teaching transactions at the university.

The programme concluded with a photo session with the invited guests and the authors.