In Summary

  • A new online course to support higher education teachers has been initiated by Swinburne.
  • Titled Contemporary Approaches to University Teaching, the online course is designed to improve the quality of university teaching.
  • The course is designed for teachers new to the higher education sector

An online course to support higher education teachers has been initiated by Swinburne as part of a national push to improve the quality of higher education teaching.

Developed by experts from nine Australian universities, the online course, called Contemporary Approaches to University Teaching, includes 11 introductory, self-paced learning and teaching modules.

It covers topics such as providing effective feedback to students, learning and teaching theories, supporting online learning and the scholarship of teaching. The self-help resource for sessional staff is particularly popular.

The course, designed specifically for teachers who are new to higher education teaching, also covers specialist issues that affect teaching within universities, such as the politics of Australian higher education and Work Integrated Learning.

“We have designed a course that is self-paced, ‘just in time’ and ‘just for me’,” says Swinburne University of Technology’s Associate Professor Higher Education, Kym Fraser, an Australian Learning and Teaching National Teaching Fellow.

“Staff can chose to do the topics across the semester, or they can dip into topics that they feel are most relevant to them at a time of their choosing.”

The idea for the course came about after research undertaken by Associate Professor Fraser revealed there was a lack of timely professional development for new teaching staff in some Australian universities.

“In 2015, we found that 9 of Australia’s 40 universities provided no more than a one-day teaching and learning induction workshop for new staff.” says Associate Professor Fraser.

“Universities that don’t currently have teaching induction programs can encourage staff to enrol in the course and then supplement the course with professional development covering their own institution-specific learning and teaching policies and procedures.”

Director of Swinburne University of Technology’s Learning Transformations Unit, Associate Professor Elizabeth Branigan, says the course responds to the growing public discussion about quality of university teaching.

“We know that students, their families, policy makers and the wider community have a keen interest in the quality and standard of teaching offered within Australia’s tertiary institutions”, says Associate Professor Branigan.

“We welcome that discussion — but we also want to offer practical support for the thousands of teachers around the country who will be facing classes for the first time.”


Contemporary Approaches to University Teaching was developed by teaching and learning experts from across Australia, with support from Swinburne University of Technology’s Learning Transformation Unit and funding from a National Teaching Fellowship provided by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training and the Council of Australasian University Leaders in Learning and Teaching (CAULLT, formally CADAD).

Nine universities collaborated in the original fellowship application that funded the course development. These institutions were: the Australian Catholic University, Charles Sturt University, Curtin University, CQUniversity, Flinders University, University of Canberra, University of Tasmania, University of the Sunshine Coast and The University of Western Australia.