STEM university courses have traditionally been taught using a didactic on-campus experience.  Students learnt the theory they needed to know, and the tools, be they mechanical or ideological, required to turn observation into knowledge.  Currently, the scholarly literature suggests that better student learning outcomes are obtained when course content is delivered with a focus on student-centred active learning.  On-campus classes, by accident or design, provide a sense of community and the development of collegiate relationships between students.  With the onset of COVID-19 and the ‘pivot’ to online learning, the question became; how do we engage active learning and build community in the online space in our large cohort of first-year STEM classes?  

Academics need to move beyond content, purposefully adopt engagement practices and actively build the space for the community to thrive.  In this seminar, I’d like to discuss with you the strategies implemented within a large first-year course that strived to create a community presence within the online course to better engage students in the online space.  Strategies included design of the LMS, lecturer presence in recorded lectures, gamification and online socialisation.  These strategies are not a one size fits all and need to be individually tailored depending on the nature of the course and the cohort. 

School Seminar Series: 


Charlene Willis

Research Area

Learning and Teaching 


Griffith University


Thu, 03/03/2022 - 4:00pm