Teaching and Learning Forum

Dr Kristin Demetrious

Dr Kristin Demetrious



Position:
Senior Lecturer

Faculty: Arts and Education
School: Communication and Creative Arts
Discipline: Public Relations

Campus: Geelong
Phone: +61 3 522 71269
Email: kristin.demetrious@deakin.edu.au

"Online role-play is a very powerful learning strategy. It's dynamic, intense and very, very rewarding for students."

A Senior Lecturer and Unit Chair in the School of Communication and Creative Arts, Dr Kristin Demetrious teaches undergraduate and postgraduate Public Relations (PR) units. She is an experienced media and communication practitioner who has worked variously as a publicist, video producer and PR administrator. Kristin is also an award-winning community worker, with 10 years experience in urban greening and place-making projects. She joined Deakin in 2000.

Motivation

Kristin's background in media production and love of visual communication combine in the development of innovative resources to enhance her teaching. By tapping into her creative energy in this way, Kristin is able to inspire and motivate her students.

Approaches and methods

Taking a constructivist and, where possible, collaborative approach to teaching and learning, Kristin aims to facilitate opportunities for students to consider alternative viewpoints around "big ideas", participate actively, and make personal connections between ideas and experience to enrich learning.

Drawing on extensive industry experience, Kristin prioritises relevance as essential to teaching and learning in Public Relations (PR). She believes that students engage in productive learning when they can connect ideas encountered in class with the outside world.

Kristin sees herself as a co-learner and is open with students that she is continuing to learn and innovate in her teaching practice. Through this teacherly presence Kristin encourages students to be similarly creative, to investigate and test ideas and learn by trying new things.

She developed online discussion areas, The Forum and The Free Speech Café to facilitate free-ranging, scholarly discussion among students, prompted by provocatively titled topics such as "Junk culture?" and "Positive PR or spin magic"? Participation in discussion is incorporated into references for students' first assignment.

As an Online Teaching and Learning Fellow in 2003, Kristin developed Save Wallaby Forest, an online role-play that investigates PR from the little-explored perspective of community activism. The role-play centres on a planning and development scenario in which students work in groups as either developers or activists. The role-play originated in a paper-based learning activity that Kristin had been successfully running with PR students. In creating the online role-play Kristin combined her experience as a scriptwriter and media producer with her doctoral research around communication campaigns by community action groups. Informed by research into the use of role-play, the design and structure of Save Wallaby Forest comprises a four-stage process of research, planning, performance and debriefing, and includes provision for student feedback. Student comments reveal that they find participation in the role-play engaging, enriching and very rewarding.

Kristin also promotes critical investigation of PR practice through the virtual simulation PRessure Point!: Getting Framed—the construction of a media release, which sheds light on the ways professional communicators reproduce and frame paradigms using instruments such as media releases. In a simulated office students work under intense pressure to write media releases to deadlines and in response to a series of fast moving, incoming events. They sequentially adopt the position of three different players in a local planning debate, writing a media release that "frames" the situation from varying points of view.

Audio Icon Audio clip: Kristin Demetrious on developing an online role-play to enhance learning

Enhancing teaching

Since she moved into higher education Kristin has strategically combined research and teaching. From the beginning she has drawn on her interest and experience in audiovisual production to enhance her teaching by developing learning resources and, through this process, has built on her research.

Kristin believes that ongoing critical and theoretically-based evaluation of resources is essential. She receives consistently enthusiastic student feedback and high Student Evaluation of Teaching and Unit (SETU) ratings for her units.

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Research and teaching

Refereed national and international publications have generated interest in Kristin's work and a range of associated opportunities. A publication in relation to Save Wallaby Forest led a colleague from New South Wales to contact Kristin and interview her about the role-play. As a result, Save Wallaby Forest has been included in Project EnRoLE, which highlights best practice in technology based learning design.

Kristin's virtual simulation Pressure Point!: Getting Framed—the construction of a media releaseis featured on a collaborative website that showcases innovative use of technology in Australian higher education.

With funding from a faculty teaching award, Kristin attended a conference in London and visited universities in England and Scotland for associated meetings. A conversation around critical perspectives on PR with a Scottish scholar generated an invitation to write a chapter in a PR text published in the United Kingdom. This led to participation, in 2008, in a Roundtable of notable PR academics from across Europe and a related collaboration with a group of international scholars who share an interest in exploring issues around ethics and PR.

Kristin has contributed chapters to a range of Australian texts on PR and provided expert media commentary on issues including grassroots activism and social media.

Leadership

Kristin is also taking a leadership role in teaching and learning:

  • through exploration of the integration of new digital resources into teaching and assessment, including scholarly essays
  • as a mentor around online role-plays and virtual simulations.

Qualifications

  • BA [Deakin]
  • GradDip (Applied Film and Television) [Swinburne UT]
  • DipEd [La Trobe]
  • PhD [Deakin]

Awards / fellowships

2008

  • WJC Banks Award for Distinguished Contributions to Teaching and Learning
  • Vice-Chancellor's Award for Distinguished Teaching
  • Deakin University Award for Teaching Excellence

2004

  • Corporate Citizenship Research Unit (CCRU) Early Researcher Fellowship

2003

  • Online Teaching and Learning Fellowship

2002

  • Faculty of Arts Excellence in Teaching Award

Grants

2003

  • STALGS grant—Experiential Learning Through Simulations:  Enhancing education in the professions through interactive computer simulations online

Publications

Membership (Teaching and learning related)

  • Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education (ASCILITE)

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29th July 2010