+ Menu- Close

e-portfolio 2021



Natasha Thaesler A00047673

This e-portfolio documents my experience in the exploration of Digital Technologies in the classroom, and opportunities to plan improved learning strategies that can be applied to Domestic Portraiture students in the Photography Diploma program at Billy Blue Design School (Torrens University).


With less than a year of experience as a Learning Facilitator with Torrens University, I am still developing a professional identity. As a practitioner in my field of Photography and Business, having previously been a student of the course and subjects that I teach, and a current student in the Learning & Teaching certificate, there are many layers to my professional identity: Practitioner-Educator-Student. This combination has the potential to uniquely qualify me with a dimensional perspective of the student experience.

Image taken during class 2021

At first, my approach to teaching was to replicate my experience as a student in a Behaviourism Pedagogy teaching method (Keesee, 2012). Throughout my experience as a student in this certificate, in conjunction with the experience in the classroom over the past year, it has been a revelation to learn that there are other more appropriate approaches. Adopting an approach with a focus on classroom inquiry and flipped classroom techniques has positively impacted my students (The Flipped Classroom Explained | Flipped Learning in Adelaide, n.d.). Last week a student told me that they had “learned so much more from” our classroom discussion, confirming my experience.

I have taught several subjects in the Photography program, both online and Face to Face (F2F) however, my primary focus is the Domestic Portraiture and Professional Practice subjects. Domestic Portraiture is delivered with a heavy focus on practical exercises. Every term I deliver the class F2F in Brisbane, and I deliver it online in a second class to a national cohort. The Subject Descriptor informs of the academic details for this subject.

Domestic Portraiture is ripe for improvement with digital technologies. In this e-portfolio, the focus will be on leveraging Digital Technologies to enhance the classroom experience for both F2F and Online Domestic Portrait students.


The Photography program is designed to help students transition from aspiring photographers into accomplished photographers with a viable business model and plan. Driven by my own experience in the program, my personal goal is to ensure that students are transcending beyond the curriculum by graduating with fully functional businesses with established income streams. All subjects offered both F2F and Online.

It has been my experience that Photography students are primarily undertaking Higher Education for the first time. This cohort of students require some direction initially to enable them to learn, before evolving to a more Heutagogy approach where they can be more active in their learning (Hase & Kenyon, 2001). There is a community of ‘flexible’ 21st Century learners in this program. These students are accessing education that needs to be consumed at their own pace, or from geographically specific locations, and as a 21st Century educator I am required to support them appropriately (21st Century Skills: What Are They and How Can We Teach Them?, Daisy Christodoulou, 2016). The COVID pandemic has transitioned F2F students to a hybrid model of learning (Coman et al., 2020).

Domestic Portraiture introduces students to the discipline of photographing human subjects and the professional management of clients in the domestic space. There is an introduction to business, that is fleshed out in the proceeding subject that I teach, Professional Practice. As photography is a practical skill, practical ‘how-to’ exercises are required to model behaviour for students in the initial phase of learning.  


The Learning outcome that is the primary focus of this e-portfolio is SLO (b) “Utilise technical and imaging skills to capture and present domestic images” which maps out CLO (2 & 3) as per the table:


There are 3 assessments in this subject:

1)    Style & Sample Development (Conceptual)

2)    Client-Centred Project (Planning & Execution of Photographic Shoot)

3)    Reflective Report

Each task is designed to scaffold onto the next. The assessment schedule provides students with the opportunity to:

·      consider and select a genre and style

·      plan and execute a professional photoshoot in chosen genre & style

·      create and process professional images

·      deliver the gallery to a client and seek feedback from the client

·      reflect on their experience and client feedback

For F2F students, using the campus studio to simulate the professional photography experience using camera equipment is essential. Students are encouraged to become active learners in this constructivist approach (Keesee, 2012). F2F students love studio experiences! Students regularly request more time in the studio. I have seen that it often appears in SESL results. It’s not just that students get to use their cameras. Students are given an opportunity to take control of their learning and lead the studio in a flipped classroom strategy that transforms the activity into an opportunity to construct knowledge through “an engaging series of learning segments, that are closely linked to learning and assessment outcomes, that provide feedback to the learner during each stage” (The Flipped Classroom Explained | Flipped Learning in Adelaide, n.d.). Learning is further enhanced by post-class activities that are clearly connected to and extend on classroom activities.

Assessment activities are constructively aligned to subject learning outcomes, specifically, the previously mentioned SLO and the second subject Assessment (Biggs, 1996). Assessment two requires students to plan and execute a professional photographic shoot, using knowledge developed in the studio environment, enabling them to demonstrate competency in the SLO: “Utilise technical and imaging skills to capture and present domestic images”.

For Online students, the current delivery program is necessarily different. Classes are delivered through the Torrens University LMS system Blackboard, using Collaborate Ultra. According to (Zlatkin-Troitschanskaia, 2019) more than 21 billion electronic devices leveraging “Web 4.0” were projected to be in use in 2020, which makes web-conferencing tools like Collaborate that rely on digital technologies essential to engage students in learning.

Online teaching in this way utilises a Connectivism approach by leveraging technology to connect students to education (Siemens, 2005). In-class discussion is the primary method for teaching in this space. Specific to practical exercises involving the studio, it is challenging to create an equitable experience and to design learning activities that promote learning for online students.


Since the start of my career in education, I have been percolating on how to replicate the studio experience for Online students. When the COVID pandemic hit, many F2F classes were transitioned online. For those students, it was bitterly disappointing. Many F2F students have expressed to me their desire to ‘defer’ until they can be on campus with confidence.

This raises two questions for my teaching practice:

1)    How to create a dynamic, practical classroom experience for online learners

2)    How to support F2F students who require a flexible program, particularly during the pandemic

To quote my first assessment for this Digital Technologies subject, the closing reflection was whether “there is an opportunity for the online student to experience the ‘photoshoot’ in a way that is even more dynamic”. Allow me to admit that I was struggling to connect with new digital technologies that would greatly enhance my own teaching practice. Then came the ‘Ah-ha’ moment! It happened when learning about the Digital Learning Strategy ‘Hyflex’, which provides students with the opportunity to attend class either F2F, online, or asynchronously 

(Hybrid/HyFlex Teaching & Learning, n.d.). This digital learning strategy has brought me full circle to a possible solution for what I believe is the primary challenge of my teaching practice in the interim. Furthermore, it addresses the way that my teaching practice can be further enhanced with digital technologies.

The ‘Hy’ stands for Hybrid Learning which is “learning that integrates complementary face-to-face (synchronous) and online learning (asynchronous) experiences in service of intended learning objectives” 

(Hybrid/HyFlex Teaching & Learning, n.d.). The ‘Flex’ relates to the flexible delivery model of the classroom which essentially means that students can access learning with F2F classes, or students can stream class online as it happens using web-based technology such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams (Hybrid/HyFlex Teaching & Learning, n.d.).

This screenshot is an example provided in a webinar of a HyFlex environment (Enabling HyFlex Teaching Webinar Courtney Shalavin and Sandris Zeivots, 2021).

Leveraging digital technologies, the HyFlex digital strategy provides an exciting opportunity for me to revolutionise the way that I deliver practical studio classes for both F2F and online students. I believe that by adapting my classroom to be a HyFlex environment, I could positively impact the student experience.


A HyFlex environment requires a blended classroom engaging digital technologies that leverage Web 3.0 and 4.0 concepts like mobile phones and laptops for class activities (Zlatkin-Troitschanskaia, 2019). When teaching the theoretical components of my subjects, F2F students would benefit by having a classroom with Connectivism principles that is cleverly enhanced by digital technologies (Siemens, 2005). For example, by creating a class Padlet that F2F students can access during class from devices, online students can access in real time from their own locations, and that all students can access outside of class. F2F students would benefit by being able to attend class remotely when necessary, for example, if they were sick, or if they were impacted by the pandemic.

This week I have two F2F students who cannot attend class because they are in mandatory quarantine, but the class is still running on campus, so these students miss the class. With a HyFlex classroom they would have the opportunity to attend remotely. For the 21st century learner I think this is going to become more normal and that I need to adapt.


For online students, HyFlex would provide them with a more engaging and more authentic learning experience. The cornerstone of Constructivism requires students to engage in their own learning, but often I have experienced that online students are passive learners (Keesee, 2012). HyFlex is a Digital Learning Strategy that provides Photography students with an opportunity to be more active in their own learning. After researching the HyFlex classroom environment I am now thinking about how I can deliver an online class from my own studio for students leveraging digital technologies. However, I think the genius of the HyFlex approach is that by dialling into an active class, online students would have access to a larger and more engaging Community of Inquiry (Garrison, 2007).

“For online learning to be successful and happy, participants need to be supported through a structured developmental process” 

(Five Stage Model, n.d.). Gilly Salmon’s 5 stage model for scaffolding learning provides an explanation for how students could be more successful with the enhanced engagement possible with HyFlex (Five Stage Model, n.d.):

·      Step Two – establish online socialisation

·      Step Three – students’ progress to the information exchange

·      Step Four – this leads to the knowledge construction necessary to complete assessment tasks and be successful in meeting the SLO's, as per the graphic below:

Five Stage Model (n.d.)

Theoretically, Torrens University could also benefit by being able to offer online students the option to choose their class time based on any F2F schedule across the nation, eliminating the need for a separate dedicated online class time. In turn, this would reduce cost.


There are several limitations that I can foresee that would need to be addressed. I have outlined a few of these below:

·      It is unlikely that being able to physically bring in and use your camera in the classroom can ever be entirely replicated. This appears to be supported by data provided by Hybrid/HyFlex Teaching & Learning, n.d. confirms that the in-person experience is more dynamic and receives a better response from students. Therefore, the emphasis should remain on attending F2F where possible.

·      Choosing the appropriate technology to support the streaming of classes would need to be explored. Blackboard Collaborate Ultra has potential in this area, but other web-conferencing tools should be considered.

·      There will be costs involved to purchase the right equipment for this classroom. In particular, the recording devices.

The primary concern that I can foresee for my practice based on the Griffith University (n.d.) case study, is being able to ensure equity between students both F2F and online. As an educator, the question is whether I can demonstrate competency in delivering this approach in a way that positively impacts all students? I foresee that at times, one group or another would receive more time from the educator. However, with experience and appropriate training, educators could become quite comfortable with this (Hybrid/HyFlex Teaching & Learning, n.d.). Griffith University (n.d.) provided an excellent case study on their IT program in HyFlex format, in which they provide suggestions for maintaining an equitable balance such as “Short video lectures embedded on the course site in Learning@Griffith, in addition to the recordings from the face-to-face lectures”.


The ideal HyFlex Classroom for me looks a lot like my current classroom, with a whole lot more technology, in particular, cameras for recording class. In the Fortitude Valley studio, there are chairs and tables on one side for theoretical learning and a cyclorama on the other side for photography. Studio equipment is stored on either side of the room. To provide context there are images provided.

From the window looking into the room:

From the back looking towards the window:

(That’s me, teaching a class!)

What my classroom requires to deliver a HyFlex classroom is recording equipment to transform it like the Seton Hall University (2021) graphic below:

Adapting this scenario to my own classroom would mean that those students using Web 3.0 and 4.0 in cloud space would be connecting with F2F students, and every student would be benefitting from the Community of Inquiry and the studio experience. Providing these students with role-playing and real-life simulations create an authentic learning experience for the 21st Century student (Miller, 2012). In demonstrating technical and imaging skills in the studio and engaging flipped classroom techniques where students take control of the studio, addressing the Subject Learning Outcomes is improved by the HyFlex digital learning strategy. In theory, students can utilise knowledge constructed in this HyFlex classroom to complete Assessment two and meet the SLO (“Utilise technical and imaging skills to capture and present domestic images”) to a higher standard. This is has given me much to think about!


In the interim, the first steps towards my HyFlex classroom goals are:

  • To include exploring mobile phones and laptops in the classroom for F2F students to get them engaging with digital technologies
  • To investigate how I can start to stream classes for online students from the studio

Long Term, HyFlex feels like the first step towards something tremendously exciting!

Imagine if students could dial into a studio experience in Virtual Reality?


 21st Century skills: what are they and how can we teach them? Daisy Christodoulou. (2016). Cambridge English. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sENR8_HDdg4&t=324s 

Biggs, J. (1996). Enhancing teaching through constructive alignment. Higher Education, 32(3), 347-364.

Coman, C., ȚîRu, L. G., Meseșan-Schmitz, L., Stanciu, C., & Bularca, M. C. (2020). Online Teaching and Learning in Higher Education during the Coronavirus Pandemic: Students’ Perspective. Sustainability, 12(24), 10367. https://doi.org/10.3390/su122410367

Enabling HyFlex teaching webinar Courtney Shalavin and Sandris Zeivots. (2021, July 30). YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bqZk1JoPMNE

Hase, S., & Kenyon, C. (2001). Moving from androgogy to heautogogy: implications for VET. Proceedings of Research to Reality: Putting. Adelaide, SA: Australian Vocational Education and Training Research Association (AVETRA). 

Hybrid/HyFlex Teaching & Learning. (n.d.). Colombia Center for Learning & Teaching. Retrieved August 16, 2021, from https://ctl.columbia.edu/resources-and-technology/teaching-with-technology/teaching-online/hyflex/

Five Stage Model. (n.d.). Gilly Salmon. Retrieved August 16, 2021, from https://www.gillysalmon.com/five-stage-model.html

Garrison, D. R. (2007). Online community of inquiry review: social, cognitive, and teaching presence issues. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 61- 72. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ842688.pdf 

Griffith University. (n.d.). Promoting active learning and equity in a HyFlex course. Explore Learning and Teaching. Retrieved August 16, 2021, from https://app.secure.griffith.edu.au/exlnt/entry/7148/view

Keesee, G. (2012). Learning Theories. Retrieved from http://teachinglearningresources.pbworks.com/w/page/19919565/Learning%20Theories 

Miller, R. (2012). A Guide to Authentic E-learning - By Jan Herrington, Thomas C. Reeves, and Ron Oliver. Teaching Theology & Religion, 15(2), 202–203. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9647.2012.00798.x

Seton Hall University. (2021, August 13). Classroom Technology. https://www.shu.edu/technology/hyflex-classroom-technology.cfm

Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: learning as network-creation. ASTD Learning News. 

The Flipped Classroom Explained | Flipped Learning in Adelaide. (n.d.). The University of Adelaide. Retrieved August 16, 2021, from https://www.adelaide.edu.au/flipped-classroom/about/

Zlatkin-Troitschanskaia, O. (2019). What Can We Learn from Theoretical Considerations and Empirical Evidence? SpringerLink. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-030-26578-6_21?error=cookies_not_supported&code=3905e09e-a787-4bd2-91aa-36406b158c61


ready to book your session?

follow @artforlifephotography