UWA unionists warn digital teaching diminishes academic role

Plus does anybody like the new name for UWS? 

Local heroine

Julia Gillard will deliver her first lecture as a professor of the University of Adelaide on September 7. She will speak on “traditional and emerging barriers to global learning and how we can better address gender equity in school education, particularly in the developing world.” But don’t turn up to hear her speak, the free event in the 950 seat Bonython Hall was booked out on Friday in under an hour.

ACPET 2015 Conf EDM-FINAL

Who wants WSU

The imminent University of Western Sydney name change (to Western Sydney University) is causing management more grief. A student petition demanding the existing name and logo stay has picked up 2500 signatures, the SRC has opposed the change and now the campus National Tertiary Education Union is in on the act. The new branding “has created a lot of discussion among staff and questions put to Academic Senate highlighting concerns around consultation, whether the image reflects UWS values, impact on alumni, and whether the rebranding had input from the elders from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities,” the NTEU reported to members on Friday. The union asked members to complete a survey, including questions on whether they were consulted on the change, what they thought about the new brand and if the rebranding is worth the money. CMM suspects the response to this one will be unambiguous; university communities generally hate existing advertising, until management changes it.

What a shut mouth says

People who yawn when others do first are empathic souls and as such less likely to be psychopaths, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191886915003645 according to Brian Rundle of Baylor U in Texas and colleagues. But there is no mention of the really clever ones who cover up their antisocial natures by pretending to yawn.

Criterion Student-Retention

Attrition all over

Last week was terrible for private sector trainers with the Australian Skills Quality Authority reporting substandard child-care trainers and friends of TAFE hammering for-profit VET colleges for completion rates that are less low than flat-lining. There is no denying opportunists in the non government sector have a terrible, but deserved reputation for enrolling people with little chance of completing courses for the public funding they bring, but TAFE is not terrific either when it comes to completions. The National Centre for Vocational Education Research projects overall completion rates for apprentices commencing in the December 2014 quarter at 41 per cent and 57 per cent for trainees. Yes shonks in the private sector are damning the whole industry but the growth of the for-profit industry occurred because governments wanted alternatives to TAFE.

Shorter than it looks

A reader argues TAFE’s case on quality control in childcare training is not watertight, suggesting that ASQA should look beyond private colleges teaching Certificate Three childcare courses in half the optimum year (CMM August 20). In particular perhaps ASQA should have a look in Victoria at Kangan, Holmesglen, Chisholm and Box Hill institutes plus Victoria University which all teach Certificate Three in six months full time. Swinburne quotes 18 weeks, but as the reader points out, “six months” at TAFE translates as an 18-week semester.

Digital damage

Change agents of the morning (I) are at the University of Western Australia, which is rolling out a seven-strategy teaching and learning plan, Education Futures, one of which promises “learning technologies are used in innovative, engaging and informed ways to enhance students’ learning.” But whatever happens in the future, the use of technology is not going down so well in the present with all UWA staff. The campus National Tertiary Education Union argues the programme is being implemented in ways that “will have a negative impact on teaching, staff morale, teaching quality and student satisfaction. The harm this will do to UWA’s reputation and ability to recruit high-quality students and produce high-quality graduates is immeasurable”

UWA is a campus based university and cannot compete with the Open University, teaching support needs to support blended learning as well as provide technical support for online learning. The proposal diminishes the role of academic staff and their expertise in the development of digital learning tech,” the NTEU warns.

UWA did not reply to a request for comment Friday.

ANU June 3

Curtin academic stands for Canning

The Greens have endorsed Curtin University lecturer Vanessa Rauland as their candidate to contest the seat of Canning, left vacant by the death of Don Randall. Dr Rauland teaches two units in Curtin’s masters in sustainability and climate policy. Her PhD is on certifying carbon reduction in urban development. The Greens won 7.4 per cent of the primary vote in 2013 with a marginal swing against. The by-election is in a month.

Adelaide unionists upset

Change on the way (II). The University of Adelaide has a major programme to lift teaching and research performance (CMM June 1) and has already announced it is looking for efficiencies in faculty/school administration (CMM May 19). This last move has upset the campus union, which warns; “management’s stated view is that the purpose of the reforms are focussed on improved service delivery, but NTEU members have become increasingly concerned that the real agenda is based on narrow cost cutting.” The union alleges 120 jobs could go and is convening meetings of professional staff to consider responses.

Deakinlicious baby

Geelong Cats players and Deakin students Tom Lonergan (management), Jimmy Bartel (sports management) and Jordan Murdoch (physical education) all endorsed the university’s Open Day at the Burwood campus yesterday. Bad luck they drew with St Kilda on Saturday. Even so they are surely more on Deakin’s student recruitment message than the Austin Powers character seen at Open Day on multiple campuses.

Eight meets another elite

The Group of Eight is in India (CMM August 21) talking to a group of “elite Indian schools” which requested a meeting. “We want to engage with those quality students who have until now been seeking to study in the UK and US. This is now a concerted push by the Go8,” Executive Director Vicki Thomson says.

UoQ

Less deep than no impact

NASA advises that online warnings of an asteroid set to slam into central America are celestial stuff and cosmic nonsense – the skies are clear for the next century. However CMM’s conspiracy correspondent notes NASA makes no mention of a zombie apocalypse.

Top dollar

A reader suggests that when it comes to $100 000 degrees the yanks are getting there, pointing to US Department of Education stats showing tuition and fees at four year institutions in 2012-13 (in 2014 dollars) were $14 300 – a 45 per cent increase over a decade. The biggest rises were are state universities and not for profit private institutions ($30 000 per annum) while the private sector education industry had the lowest increase.

Know something the world needs to know? Anonymity guaranteed but lots of questions asked, stephen4@hotkey.net.au