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Jaclyn Broadbent Think Young behind the scenes
How online learning is enhancing personal needs

In an age of search engines, it is no longer the lecturer’s job to be a simple repository of facts. If a student wants to know something, they look it up.

Dr Jaclyn Broadbent, Senior Lecturer and Associate Head of Deakin’s School of Psychology, says it’s now the lecturer’s role to provide meaning and context for available information. Understanding how students learn – and want to learn – is essential to this process.

Dr Broadbent’s students benefit from constant technical refinements to Deakin’s Cloud Campus, which offers 24/7 connectivity from any device. And they also benefit from her unending efforts to understand their needs. She’s committed to providing innovative ways for them to interact with each other and develop both personally and professionally.

Achieving personalised experiences

For those who study online, personalisation is just as important, if not more so, than for those who study on-campus.

Dr Broadbent’s strong commitment to supporting her online students stems partly from her own experience of learning via technology, which was was one of alienation. ‘I felt completely isolated and alone. None of my siblings had finished high school, and neither of my parents had gone to university. I didn’t know who to ask for help.’

She aims to be as approachable as possible for each of the 1500 students she manages over multiple locations. Her style is to use her own passion for the topic to inspire students to want to learn, ‘helping them find ways that could be tied back to their own life and learning and experience,’ she says.

‘I wanted students to feel like they belonged to something, a little community or family that were all here to help them. A lot of what I do is trying to break down preconceptions that students have about who lecturers and academic staff are.’

Tackling a unique challenge

Australia’s university culture is unique, Dr Broadbent says, because of our large class sizes. ‘If you go to America, nobody deals with the number of students that we deal with in one unit.’

This means scaling cutting-edge pedagogy to work for 1500 people requires daring experimentation. ‘All my processes adapt and grow over the semester as I learn what’s working for them, and what’s working for me,’ Dr Broadbent explains.

‘I have a real passion for teaching so I go to a lot of seminars and workshops where people are presenting really innovative teaching practices, but when it comes down to it, those relate to having 30 students or 100 students in the room.’

She believes Deakin’s encouraging approach to innovation and flexibility in teaching is integral to keeping the Cloud Campus ‘human-friendly’.

‘You can’t spend all this time implementing new teaching practices without the support of your school and the university. Because it does take time; it does take thinking. Deakin always puts the student first, so as an employee you want to do that as well.’

'I wanted students to feel like they belonged to something, a little community or family that were all here to help them. A lot of what I do is trying to break down preconceptions that students have about who lecturers and academic staff are.'

Jaclyn Broadbent,
Senior Lecturer and Associate Head of School of Psychology, Deakin University

Making learning meaningful

Receiving feedback from lecturers is a key part of learning for any student, and no less so for those studying online.

Dr Broadbent uses Deakin’s online learning environment to provide student feedback in ways that make a meaningful and positive impact on their work. She uses an iterative and collaborative process called ‘Feed Forward Feed Back’ that guides students through assignments. ‘It relates current work directly to upcoming work and how it needs to be approached,’ she explains.

As part of this process, Dr Broadbent completes the assignments herself, shows her working and applies the marking rubrics, while always asking, ‘What could be improved?’ She ensures students stay in constant communication with her throughout, allowing them to hone their knowledge and improve their work over the long term.

‘A lot of academics complain about having to give feedback and mark. But if you have to do the work anyway, why not embrace the opportunity to provide something really meaningful to students?’ she suggests.

Embracing constant evolution and putting students in charge of how they learn are just some of the many ways that Dr Broadbent demonstrates that student experience is a top priority – no matter whether you study on-campus or online.

Considering studying online? Find out why Deakin had led the way in graduate satisfaction for seven consecutive years.

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Jaclyn Broadbent
Jaclyn Broadbent

Senior Lecturer and Associate Head of School of Psychology, Deakin University

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