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Faculty: Faculty of Arts and Education
School: School of Communication and Creative Arts
Discipline: Editing and publishing
Phone: +61 3 924 46465
"For students, being at university should be about personal objectives, about making them the people they want to be. And I want to help that."
Dr Katya Johanson is a unit chair and teaches undergraduate and postgraduate Editing and Publishing units in the School of Communication and Creative Arts. She joined Deakin in 2004, having worked as a tutor at the University of Melbourne and as an editor in educational publishing. Katya maintains her industry links through active involvement in national and Victorian professional bodies.
Advancing the editing profession and preparing her students to become future professionals are Katya's key motivations as an educator. Though she teaches a vocationally oriented course, Katya believes that it is important to focus beyond strictly vocational goals. She fosters critical and independent thinking, research and peer mentoring skills that will equip students for lifelong learning and help them adapt in a rapidly changing employment landscape.
To ensure a focus on learning from the outset, Katya requires all her undergraduate students to set personal objectives at the beginning of a unit. Whether or not these change during semester, ongoing review and reflection give students the opportunity to recognise their achievements. Similarly, Katya encourages her postgraduate Editing students to develop objectives about editing as a vocation, taking into account the skills and experience they bring to the unit, how editing might contribute to those and how that experience might go on to shape the editing they do in future. Where students' original vocational motivation isn't matched by the realities of the role, Katya encourages them to consider instead how editing skills might contribute to their life in other ways.
Audio clip: Katya Johanson on student objectives
Katya's background and current networks ensure that her teaching is shaped by industry and professional knowledge. She implements innovative strategies to facilitate deep engagement with learning in her students, by using a variety of technologies including advanced audiovisual resources, web-writing and social software.
Although Katya has enthusiastically adopted new technologies, she believes that they need to be introduced into teaching thoughtfully and carefully, either in response to a perceived need or to harness particular benefits. She is cautious about using new technologies simply because they are new, taking the view that without a rationale, introduction of new technology can potentially compromise, rather than enhance, teaching quality.
In her online teaching, she seeks to foster the opportunities for training and mentoring traditionally provided in publishing houses. Collaboration is the cornerstone. With a colleague, Robin Freeman, Katya set up a virtual professional community, the Deakin Publishing Association, which comprises a wiki-based website, a CD-ROM, Publishing: a guide for authors and editors, incorporating informative interviews with leading publishing professionals representing each stage of the publication process, and an assessment where postgraduate students work in groups to create a hypothetical company. Katya pairs off-campus student authors and editors. The editor is expected to research genre or subject matter, as applicable, in order to approach the manuscript in an informed way. eLive meetings allow editor and author to discuss the manuscript. The exercise develops a range of relevant skills: negotiation, tact, peer mentoring, and effective teamwork and collaboration.
For Katya, responding to students' needs is central to quality teaching. One strategy is to incorporate student objectives into the material she covers. Another has been to adapt unit delivery as required. In response to challenges around content load and availability of equipment in a design and production unit which required competence in certain software packages, Katya established a partnership with Box Hill TAFE, allowing students to undertake an intensive course in the software before semester begins. The result has been that students have the necessary competency to investigate and apply the theory they study in the unit. This has taken pressure off students and resources alike.
Katya recognises that adapting teaching for different modes is very important and that it is critical to keep communication lines open and adapt these to the varying needs of off- and on-campus students.
A scholarly and reflective teacher, Katya has published on teaching and learning in her discipline in a number of national and international journals and has been invited to present at conferences in Australia and overseas.
With a colleague, she is building on research into collaborative learning that they began together while undertaking the Graduate Certificate of Higher Education and which gave rise to most of the teaching strategies that she currently uses.
In Katya's experience, grants and teaching awards can assist the development of high quality teaching strategies. Thanks to a faculty grant, she was able to travel around Australia and record the interviews featured on the CD-ROM Publishing: a guide for authors and editors. Student feedback about this resource has been extremely positive, with many commenting on its relevance and interest. Katya is seeking funding to further develop the scope and application of this popular resource.
Katya developed a new postgraduate unit, The Creative Economy, which she taught for the first time in 2008. She is also taking a leadership role in:
Katya is also available as a mentor to teaching staff new to online teaching.