It’s all in the timing

Yesterday Acting Education Minister Stuart Robert announced $10m for “digital cadetships”

The funds will go to four organisations providing training. Apparently its part of the government’s, “commitment to make Australia a top ten data and digital economy by 2030.”

“Gosh, could the timing could have anything to do with the Budget tonight?” you ask. “Honestly some of you are such cynics,” CMM replies.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

The successful switch to on-line teaching and learning during COVID was not luck – it depended on the skills of third-space practitioners,  the learning designers, academic developers and educational technologists who had built the foundations for the transformation. Sally Kift and Colin Simpson set the scene for a discussion of a new book on how it happened.

plus Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on knowing there will always be unknowns and why it’s better than believing anybody has all the answers.

and  Tim Winkler worries uni websites look like they did in 2019 – which is a big opportunity lost.

Eyebrows raised over ASQA

The regulator is pleased indeed that it will oversight training packages. TAFE Directors Australia appears resigned

The Australian Skills Quality Authority will have approval authority over training packages from the new Training Cluster organisations, set to be established regardless of the election outcome (CMM March 24).

This appeared to mightily please CEO Saxon Rice last week, who assured anybody interested that the agency would, “leverage our deep understanding of Australia’s national training system and draw on our extensive regulatory skill set and capability,” (CMM March 24).

However TAFE Directors Australia’s Jenny Dodd suggests, “many eyebrows were raised around the sector last week when ASQA’s new authority was announced.”

“The regulator approving the products that it will then regulate is an interesting decision.”

But in what appears a spirit of working with what the training community has got she adds, “there was little alternative other than ASQA for an independent approval body. If ASQA sticks to their brief of approving Industry Cluster training products against standards and policies, then the model is likely to be successful.”

Charles Darwin U goes it alone

CDU announces a September exit from the Innovative Research Universities lobby

VC Scott Bowman says, “we do not see ourselves aligning with IRU direction as we once did.”

The exit is a year on from Professor Bowman’s first strategic plan, which is specific on CDU serving the Northern Territory.

The exit reduces Innovative Research University membership to seven, which it was prior to Uni Canberra joining last year. Continuing members are James Cook U, Griffith U, Western Sydney U, Uni Canberra, La Trobe U, Flinders U and Murdoch U.


Challenges for Uni Tas issue management

At the beginning of the year a U Tas veteran told CMM that the first six months would be a shocker for management. How right they were

shocker the first: the university’s new teaching model, which mainly replaces the lecture with small-group classes went over ok-ish when announced last year (CMM November 12 and 19 ’21).  But members of the Hobart legal community were not impressed by this, or by the university intending to outsource the grad dip of legal practice. Nor are those students, who are upset about loss of lecturers and lectures under the new model. There were complaints last week that management is not responding to concerns, with suggestions, that management is relying on, “ student expectations lowering to the current standard of education than that standard rising to meet expectations.”

Shocker number two: There are claims  that departing staff without access to the hot IP report are being asked to sign non-disclosure agreements. Independent MLC Meg Webb has asked the education minister if the university is asking people leaving to sign, “deeds of settlement containing confidentiality and/or non-disparagement clauses” and if so how many.  “”If this practice has become standard, it would be unfortunate if it were to create a sense of suppressed freedom of public discussion in relation to the university,” Ms Webb says.

The third is the worst: It’s continuing opposition to management’s plan to move most university operations from Sandy Bay to the CBD. Despite years  of consultation, opponents of the move are still making the social media running – reflected in continuing coverage in the Mercury newspaper and local ABC. Federal MP Andrew Wilkie’s public position demonstrates the state of the debate. “I support the UTAS relocation so long as all reasonable community concerns are addressed. So far they have not been, as evidenced by the widespread community concern with the project, especially regarding the future use of the Sandy Bay site.”

The U Tas development is the biggest game in town and as such all but automatically attracts attention to everything involved. The ABC has just won a three-year argument with the university over releasing refurb costs of city hotels for now not needed student accommodation – the state ombudsman ordered the information be made public. That COVID ended student demand for beds was hardly the university’s fault, back in 2018 housing was tight and the university needed to act on accommodation (CMM May 23 2018). But now critics can claim it is another example of the university getting things wrong.

One way or another, the city move seems likely to occur, if not as expansively as now intended – the university is in too deep financially to sell-up in the city and stay at Sandy Bay. But the criticism will continue.

Dolt of the day

Is CMM. Independent Higher Education Australia wants it known that its VC’s forum was last Wednesday, not Friday as reported.


Colin Simpson’s ed tech must reads of the week

The value of a Weekly Preview Video from Teaching@Sydney

As Zoom continues to lower barriers to using video in education, more and more educators are normalising its use to communicate with students asynchronously. Preview videos that outline what is coming in the week can enhance teacher presence, contextualise learning and shed light on questions from previous weeks. This post from Matthew Thomas at Sydney Uni describes the use of preview videos in an education unit with multiple lecturers and offers both technological and pedagogical tips.

Bourdieu and Higher Education from Meet the Education Researcher (podcast)

Most people no doubt have their own opinions about the root causes and solutions to questions of power relationships in universities, but the French theorist Pierre Bourdieu has probably given this more consideration than many. This 20 min podcast from the Education faculty at Monash is part of a rich series examining contemporary issues and ideas in education research. In this, Troy Heffernan (La Trobe) dives into ideas of power in the academy and the things that universities don’t want you to see.

Learner and User Experience Research from

User Experience design (UX) is, not surprisingly, a field of increasing importance as we spend more and more time online. Every aspect of the layout of a webpage including colours, shapes, locations and images influence our behaviours. Naturally these design aspects also apply to education technologies. What is sometimes less well understood is that the principles that work for an on-line shop don’t always translate directly to the more complex world of on-line learning. For this we have Learner Experience (LD) design. This free e-book from Schmidt et al is an invaluable resource for anyone that needs to understand how to design on-line spaces to support learning and teaching.

Students’ perceptions of, and emotional responses to, personalised learning analytics-based feedback: an exploratory study of four courses from Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education

A lot of discussion around the use of student activity data to automate feedback and identify and intervene when students are at risk – Learning Analytics (LA) – has focused on what’s possible and the ethical side of things. As the tools and systems have matured, we are now starting to see more work exploring the impacts of the use of LA in teaching. This paper from Lim et al. looks at how this feedback affects student behaviour in four courses in different disciplines in terms of positive and negative activation and deactivation.

2022 PressEd Conference (tweets) from Twitter

This conference about innovative uses of WordPress in education and elsewhere has been and gone but deserves a mention for its interesting format. It is held entirely on Twitter, with presenters scheduled for set times where they make their presentations in a flurry of tweets, all using the hashtag #pressedconf22. This means that it is possible to discuss things in real time and follow the tweets back later.

Colin Simpson has worked in education technology, teaching, learning design and academic development in the tertiary sector since 2003 and is employed by Monash University’s Education Innovation team. He is also one of the leaders of the TELedvisors Network. For more from Colin, follow him on Twitter @gamerlearner

Appointments, achievement

Graham Brown starts next month as Charles Sturt U’s DVC A. He moves from PVC A at UWA.  Sue Carthew has been Interim DVC A since January.

Helen Milroy (UWA) wins Momentum for Australia’s 20-22 Most Inspiring Woman of the Year award.

John Romalis moves to Macquarie U as head of economics. He comes from Uni Sydney.