Published 3 December 2021
The Graduate Diploma in Orientation and Mobility (O&M) is a one-year program designed to meet growing industry needs. It aims to reach students in various locations including interstate, remote and rural locations and equip them for a profession and industry that requires substantial practical and work integrated learning (WIL) components. Graduates can apply to become certified O&M specialists working in private and government organisations to assist people with low vision or blindness.
A talented team of academic leaders from the School of Optometry and Vision Science, subject matter experts, O&M industry experts and Educational Solution Developers from PVCESE (Pro Vice Chancellor Education and Student Experience) – Innovation, collaborated to fast-track the development, design, and delivery of the program.
The main challenge was to design and develop engaging learning resources that catered for a fully online delivery, while maintaining a seamless integration with face-to-face practical components in a COVID-19 environment. To effectively realise this, the team sought advice from industry experts and O&M organisations, such as Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, and a National Steering Committee to ensure the program was built on the latest developments in the field, including current and emerging O&M practices. Furthermore, the team used modern technologies such as interactive H5P lessons, animations and gamification to push the boundaries of online delivery to create a truly immersive and engaging learning experience for students. Guest lectures and video recordings continued remotely with PVCESE advice and support.
The first cohort enrolled in Term 2, 2021. The program has delivered two terms of studies and is on track to deliver the last term in Term 1, 2022. Student evaluation from myExperience has been positive, with an average score of 5.5 in overall satisfaction.
“Availability for direct communication with the lecturers, to ask questions etc was appreciated. Live blackboard sessions were great to meet other students and ask further questions about material. Amount of allocated time for assessment tasks was generous and they were well explained,” said one student. “I thought they would be all webcam style... but I was impressed with the studio setup. I enjoyed the lectures with extra interactive material, external videos, and podcasts.”
The Graduate Diploma in Orientation and Mobility meets industry accreditation standards and opens a new direction for a solid and financially viable model for O&M training. Already the program has attracted much interest. To date, the program is fully enrolled for 2022 intake with a waiting list for 2023.
Dr Sharon Oberstein is senior lecturer, Deputy Clinic Director, UNSW Optometry Clinic and program director of the Graduate Diploma in Orientation and Mobility, UNSW Sydney. She qualified as an optometrist in South Africa (Cum laude), a PhD at UNSW Sydney (with the Menzies Research Scholarship in Allied Health Sciences) and is a senior fellow of the HEA, UK. Recognition of low vision expertise is evidenced through invited presentations at optometric conferences and rehabilitation planning committees.
A/Prof Sieu Khuu is an Associate Professor and Deputy Head of School in the School of Optometry and Vision Science. He holds a Bachelor of Science (Hons) and PhD from the University of Western Australia. He has over 20 years of leading teams in conducting research in and teaching vision science. He is recognised for his research in psychophysics and leading the development of professional programs such as the Bachelor of Vision Science/ Master of Clinical Optometry and Graduate Diploma in Orientation and Mobility.
Dr Thuy Vu is a manager in the Educational Solution Developer team. She is an enthusiastic educator with 15 years of experience in teaching and advising on curriculum design and development across Australian universities. She holds a PhD in authentic assessment from the University of Queensland. Her areas of interests include professional education, authentic assessment, pedagogy for transitioning, success and retention.
Dr Faisal Khattak (AFHEA) is an Educational Solutions Developer in Educational Solution Developer team, PVCESE. He has over 15 years of teaching experience, hold a PhD in Microbiology from FU Berlin, Germany and a Bachelor of Education degree. He is passionate about science, design, developing engaging educational and interactive content for tertiary education.