The University of Canberra (UC) is the university of Australia’s capital city. It offers undergraduate and postgraduate education. Specialising in a range of interrelated disciplines, UC teaches and researches in: arts and design; business, government and law; health; and, education, science, technology and mathematics.
The University of Canberra developed a suite of e-learning resources to increase disability awareness among school staff by explaining their obligations under the Disability Standards for Education (DSE) 2005 and the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1992. Ten education agencies from around Australia invited the University of Canberra to lead the collaborative project from the research and development through to the delivery.
With a potential learner base of 300,000, the cost of delivering face-to-face training was prohibitively expensive. E-learning was chosen as the key method of delivery, enabling the University of Canberra to maximise the reach of the training and to deliver it cost-effectively.
The University of Canberra needed a place to put these seven e-learning courses to ensure it would reach as many learners as inexpensively as possible.
The learning needed to reach teachers across Australia from remote rural communities to inner cities. The learning had to be accessible via dial-up internet connections, as well as being intuitive and user-friendly to account for the wide variation in computer literacy of the learner base.
The learning also needed to fit seamlessly within the systems managed by each of the ten participating agencies, enabling each one to deliver the e-learning in its own brand that was recognisable to its own staff. Each of these agencies also needed the ability to generate their own customised reports on user statistics which would be relevant to each of their separate accountability requirements.
The University of Canberra chose Totara Platinum Partner Catalyst to design and deliver an LMS platform, Totara Learn, to act as the DSE e-learning gateway which would quickly direct each user to the landing page of their education authority.
Once the system had recognised the employer’s brand, the user could then undertake a course in confidence according to their employer’s instructions.
The Totara Learn solution gives education agencies the power to determine what courses they will offer their staff from the full suite of DSE e-learning modules, simply by switching courses ‘on’ or ‘off’ via their landing page.
Through their landing pages, education agencies have the power to change course offerings and the advice they offer learners, as well as generating their own reports on user statistics.
The innovation of cloud hosting computing technology also made the delivery of a mass e-learning programme on this scale easier.
“With a target audience of 300,000 school staff nationally, we couldn’t have afforded to deliver this online training without the cloud. Now we have users signing on at a rate of 5,000 to 10,000 a month, and the system doesn’t blink.”
- Chris Kilham, University of Canberra associate professor of education and project leader
The Totara Learn is perfect for delivering a mass online training course like the DSE e-learning to multiple groups of users, because it has the capacity to give each client a branded product with customisation and reporting features. Yet the DSE e-learning remains an integrated e-learning system managed by the University of Canberra. This enables staff at the University to monitor the user experience, collect user feedback and assess the overall impact of the learning.
Complementing the structured e-learning for staff of education providers is a publically accessible website providing a practical guide to the Disability Standards for Education for individuals, families and communities.
The University of Canberra again chose Catalyst to host this important asset in their campaign to raise awareness of the rights of people with disability in education, and the obligations of education providers.
An analysis of the data from the first 46,000 users indicated highly positive user feedback on both the e-learning experience and the impact of the training on their professional knowledge, attitudes and skills.
After completing the course, a significantly higher proportion of participants said they understood their legal responsibilities under the Disability Discrimination Act 1998. Learners who had completed the course also demonstrated a positive change in attitudes towards making adjustments for students with disabilities after completing the first two hours of online training.
Both participants with no prior training in the Standards and those who had prior training scored an average of 95% of understanding after completing the e-learning. Those with the least experience working with students with disabilities learnt the most from the DSE e-learning, showing the biggest improvement in the pre- and post-learning questionnaires.
“It helped me to understand the principles involved and about how they are applied in practical situations to help students with disabilities. Also, I became more aware of the scope of disabilities where previously I had a fairly restricted view.”
- Learner, DSE e-learning
This analysis of the first 46,000 learners showed that the two-hour DSE e-learning course has the biggest impact on those who need it the most: staff with little experience working with students with disabilities and staff with no prior training in the Standards. This has helped thousands of school staff improve their knowledge and attitudes towards the material covered in the Standards, improving the support schools offer to students with disabilities across Australia.
There are now over 140,000 registered learners in the system.
The conversations taking place in schools all around Australia - between education administrators and school leaders, leaders and teachers, teachers and parents, parents and children, teachers and students are now much better informed and share a common language.
Most importantly, students with disability are, routinely, involved in those conversations.
“I really enjoyed how easy it was to follow, and watching the videos. I thought it was a very thorough overview of the disability standards of education. I will definitely be referring back to this when I need to. There is so much information...thank you.” - Learner, DSE e-learning