Stream to enhance interactive online learning environment

A new learning environment being introduced at Massey this year aims to bring the classroom into the living rooms of students.

Stream will provide teachers and students with an environment in which the transfer of knowledge, opinion and support will be a seamless experience, Distance Education Director Associate Professor Mark Brown says.

“Learning is not an armchair sport,” he says. “It’s a life-long process of constructing knowledge and rather than pumping large volumes of information into students’ homes, Stream aims to build a more vibrant digital learning culture.”

Vice-Chancellor Steve Maharey says Stream symbolises Massey’s commitment to providing an exceptional and distinctive experience for all students.

“It will offer a rich interactive environment for knowledge transfer where students learn for tomorrow, today,” Mr Maharey says.

Dr Brown says Stream, which is based on the open-source programme Moodle, will help to promote greater engagement between staff and students.

“For distance students, online discussion forums will create a social experience, something which they may have been missing before.  And internal students will be able to extend the learning networks they already have on campus.”

The new environment supports a dynamic flow of information, including access to the latest journal articles and short video and audio clips. Stream will also allow students to electronically submit and receive feedback on assignments.

“Another key feature will be the opportunity for students to reflect on their learning and present a showcase of their accomplishments in Massey’s international award-winning electronic portfolio,” Brown says.

But he stresses that Stream will not replace conventional forms of learning or the teacher.

“Massey is committed to quality teaching by blending the best of traditional media with new online resources, but only when they offer a clear advantage.”
For example, after attending a lecture or extramural course students will be able to enter Stream at their own convenience to watch a “video nugget” or listen to an “audio byte”, which poses questions and issues for classmates to vote on and discuss in the online forum.

“The intention is to promote active learning,” Dr Brown says. “The traditional way of filling students with lots of information and then testing their short-term memories has no place in the modern university.”

Mr Maharey says the move to Stream is the first in a number of initiatives that will form part of a larger strategy aimed at broadening and enriching the learning experience for all students.

“This demonstrates Massey’s strong commitment to a more interactive, collaborative, media-rich and personalised learning environment relevant to the needs of the 21st century learner,” Mr Maharey says.

Dr Brown says Stream will be available this year to just a few carefully selected programmes.

“It will be rolled out gradually over the next year or so, as it’s important to focus on quality rather than quantity of paper offerings. We want to provide a consistent and transformative learning experience across a whole programme of study, not just single papers.”

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