UQ launches teaching platform to empower active learning

24 April 2018

One of the world’s most comprehensive databases of Australian literature and storytelling – AustLit – has paved the way for the development of Cirrus – a teaching and learning platform supporting digitally informed assessment and learning activities at The University of Queensland.

Owned and operated by UQ, AustLit is used internationally by university researchers, teachers and students involved in the study of Australian culture.

Director of AustLit Kerry Kilner said the latest grant from UQ’s Institute for Teaching and Learning Innovation has enabled her team to use the affordances of AustLit to expand the functionality of Cirrus in order to incorporate assessment activities such as:   

  • Annotation of text, images, video, and audio for student assessment across a range of disciplines and
  • Student-created research outcomes such as online exhibitions, illustrated articles, and informational websites that use digital humanities principles of online communication and data management.

“Cirrus allows course convenors to set assignments where students can work entirely online to undertake and communicate the results of their work,” Ms Kilner said.

“The students are able to acquire digital literacy skills as well as get really engaged with the work they are doing.”

They can undertake group or independent work, internships, and exemplary students also have the opportunity for their work to be published by AustLit in the Best of Cirrus Annual Exhibition.

“This is a publication that showcases a collection of discipline-specific exhibitions from high-achieving students studying in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences,” Ms Kilner said.

“Students can also add their work to eportfolio repositories such as Chalk and Wire, or download PDF versions for attaching to their CVs or sharing with colleagues, friends, family, or potential employers,” she said.

Currently, Cirrus is only being used as an internal resource to UQ, however this additional funding has allowed Ms Kilner to explore potential new markets where the tools can be used.

“Cirrus has already been taken up by 12 courses at UQ ranging from Australian Art History, Roman Art, Creative and Professional Writing, Law, Language and Linguistics, Literary and Drama Studies, Research Methods, Philosophy and professional internship courses.

“It is now available as one of the learning tools in Blackboard and we are aiming to develop the Cirrus annotation tools externally for schools, as an add-on for AustLit subscribers.”

Ms Kilner said one of the new implementations is in language learning.

“For example, a student learning a second language is now able to record and upload audio of themselves conversing with someone and then annotate where they might be getting their pronunciation wrong.

“It is about self-assessment as well as formal assessment, so these sorts of uses would be great to expand out into the wider education field,” she said.

Media: Kerry Kilner (M) 0402 454 120, k.kilner@uq.edu.au or Kristen Johnston (HASS Communications) 07 3346 1633, k.johnston@uq.edu.au