A Model for Developing a SOTEL Research Cluster


Keywords: SOTEL, Community of practice, XR enhanced higher education


This case study critically reflects upon the development of a scholarship of technology enhanced learning (SOTEL) research cluster in clinical sciences higher education. The research cluster has grown from an initial community of practice established in 2015 in the context of Paramedicine education (Cochrane, Cook, Aiello, Harrison, & Aguayo, 2016), to a collaborative transdisciplinary research cluster that now encompasses: the School of Clinical Sciences, Journalism, the Centre for Teaching And Learning, the AppLAB, and international research partners (Cochrane, 2019; Cochrane et al., 2018). The MESH360 research cluster (initially standing for the Multiple Environment Simulation VR Hub, but now covering the growing body of immersive reality enhanced learning projects) focuses upon the common domain of the exploration of immersive reality to enhance higher education to develop student creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving capabilities.


The research cluster is built upon the shared ontology, epistemology, and research methodology of the wider SOTEL research cluster hub (https://sotel.nz/about-the-cluster/). We established an ecology of resources to support the research cluster (Cochrane & Narayan, 2018), and encourage open educational practice via social media, publishing in open access channels, and regular project showcases. Outcomes from the MESH360 research cluster include: innovative curriculum design, journal articles, conference proceedings, 2 Vice Chancellors teaching innovation awards, a Prime Minister’s research scholarship, and award of a variety of internal project funding. The activity of the research cluster is curated in a ResearchGate Project at https://www.researchgate.net/project/MESH360 and on social media via the #MESH360 hashtag. While the activity of the MESH360 has been predominantly within the Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences, we are seeing wider impact into Schools within the other Faculties at the university, and potential national and international collaborations.


The SOTEL model includes the following main elements:


The presentation will outline the above elements of the SOTEL Research Cluster. We believe the MESH360 research cluster model can be applied to a wide variety of higher education domains.



Cochrane, T. (2019). How AUT is Designing Authentic Student Learning Experiences with Immersive Reality. Paper presented at the 2nd New Zealand Digital Campus and Blended Learning Transformation From K6 to Higher education: Immersive AR/VR, blended learning innovations and next generation learning spaces, Stamford Plaza, Auckland, New Zealand. https://tinyurl.com/SOTELprojects

Cochrane, T., Cook, S., Aiello, S., Harrison, D., & Aguayo, C. (2016, 28-30 November). Designing Virtual Reality Environments for Paramedic Education: MESH360. Paper presented at the Show Me The Learning. Proceedings ASCILITE 2016 Adelaide, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia.

Cochrane, T., & Narayan, V. (2018, 25-29 June, 2018). The Scholarship of Technology Enhanced Learning: Reimagining SOTL for the Social Network Age. Paper presented at the EdMedia: World Conference on Educational Media and Technology 2018, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Cochrane, T., Stretton, T., Aiello, S., Britnell, S., Cook, S., & Narayan, V. (2018). Authentic Interprofessional Health Education Scenarios using Mobile VR. Research in Learning Technology, 26, 2130. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.25304/rlt.v26.2130



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Author Biography

Thomas Cochrane, CfLAT, Auckland University of Technology

Dr Thomas Cochrane is an Academic Advisor and Senior Lecturer in educational Technology at AUT University's Centre for Learning and Teaching (CfLAT). In 2011 he was awarded as an Ascilite Fellow http://www.ascilite.org.au/index.php?p=awards. His research interests include mobile learning, web 2.0, communities of practice, and the scholarship of technology enhanced learning (SOTEL). His PHD thesis was titled: "Mobilizing Learning: Transforming pedagogy with mobile web 2.0". Thomas has managed and implemented over 50 mobile learning projects, with a recent focus upon Android and iOS smartphones and the iPad as catalysts to enable student-generated content and student-generated learning contexts, bridging formal and informal learning environments. Thomas has a peer-reviewed research portfolio spanning 45 journal articles, 29 book chapters, and over 120 conference proceedings (http://goo.gl/maps/YxkYP), receiving best paper awards at Ascilite 2009, ALT-C 2011, ALT-C 2012. He has been invited to keynote at several international educational technology conferences including: the 2012 Australian Moodle Moot, the 2012 m-Libraries conference in the UK, the launch of UWS massive iPad project in February 2013, the 2014 IBSA VET Practitioners Conference in Melbourne, and an invited speaker at EdMedia2014 (Tampere, Finland), and an Educator In Residence at the Disruptive Media Learning Lab, Coventry University in September 2015. Thomas was an invited keynote at the University of Western Australia’s Mlearning Summit in September 2015. Thomas was an invited keynote at the University of Western Australia’s Mlearning Summit in September 2016. In 2017 he was a member of the team winning the AUT Vice Chancellor’s Teaching Excellence, Teaching Innovation Award.

Thomas is an AJET Associate Editor, an editorial board member of RLT, BJET, and IJMBL, and the coordinator of the Ascilite Mobile Learning Special Interest Group. He is a regular reviewer for a number of educational technology journals including: AJET, CHB, IJMBL, JCHE, UAIS, and TLT. Thomas is also one of the first SCMALT holders (Senior Certified Member of the Association for Learning Technology).

How to Cite
Cochrane, T., & Narayan, V. (2019). A Model for Developing a SOTEL Research Cluster: MESH360. Pacific Journal of Technology Enhanced Learning, 2(1), 11-12. https://doi.org/10.24135/pjtel.v2i1.31
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