The right vax record

Now that fully vaxed arriving international students will not have quarantine in NSW it will be up to the Commonwealth to keep borders secure

So, hard can it be to check immunisation status at airport arrivals? Not hard at all, as long as officials are across different state and territory rules for people with a medical exemption. And as long as the dates on students’ vax certificates are legible and meet time-requirements. And as long as officials remember the Beijing version of Sinopharm (under 16 names) is ok but the Wuhan one isn’t.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

James Guthrie (Macquarie U) reports on QUT’s finances.

Michael Sankey (Charles Darwin U) and Chris Campbell (Griffith U) on live-lectures and tech in teaching – what students want is what works. It’s a response to Robert Vanderburg and Michael Cowling, in CMM here.

Suzy Syme and Liz Goode (Southern Cross U) on a prep programme for Y12s uncertain about study, new in Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

UNSW uni ranking reveals achievers (hello Switzerland)

The new Aggregate Ranking of Top Universities confirms the rise of China and the strength of small research- intensive knowledge nations

The ARTU (from UNSW) “meta ranks” annual performance from the big three comprehensive rankings, Times Higher, Academic Ranking of World Universities and Quacquarelli Symonds.

In CMM this morning Nicholas Fisk and Daniel Owens (UNSW) report a decade of data demonstrates the growing strength of China in the top 100. Tsinghua and Peking universities, plus Chinese University of Hong Kong are up 20 plus places in the global first century with another four institutions joining them – Zhejiang, Shanghai Jiao Tong, University of Science and Technology of China and Fudan U.

The ARTU also records Monash U and UNSW rising 20 places in the top 100. But the big local Australian movers are outside it, UTS up 102 places and Curtin up 84 since 2014.

Overall Australia rates third in the world, behind the US and UK, but not when adjusted for population – when it is fifth, following Switzerland, the Netherlands, Denmark and Singapore.

Refining value for universities

Three days of big ideas at the last CMM-Twig event for the year

Day one: What makes a university brand and matching graduates to job

Day two: New directions in marketing and the end for open days

Day three: is it all over for the ATAR plus courses in demand (and not)

Check out the experts addressing the issues here.

Chief Scientist’s Australian way to research open access

Make a change from the present where research reading and publishing could be costing $460m to $1bn a year in payments to research publishers

Chief Scientist Cathy Foley offers the estimate in an essay on the importance of open access, published (OA) in the new Australian Quarterly.

Dr Foley makes a considered case for a change to existing journal access, now based on subscriptions and pay to read/pay to publish. She also mentions elements of an Australian Model for open access, including,

* national agreements with publishers “negotiated by a central organisation”

* publication of research funded by the Australian Research Council and the National Health and Medical Research Council without publishing charges and free to read

* a later stage could be “a more transformative shift” to open access research data, open code and open research infrastructure.

For the moment, she suggests open access to research articles could be possible for what journal subscriptions and article processing charges now cost. It is, Dr Foley suggests, “a significant reform for which I believe Australia is ready.”

It already appears, in part, to be here. The Council of Australian University Librarians has announced four new deals with publishers, including with journal giants, Springer and Wiley, which including reading access and publishing fees for articles in thousands of their journals, for single subscription prices (CMM November 5).

Proposing one big U for WA

WA Chief Scientist Peter Klinken is talking up his plan for a single state public university again – the Perth establishment is listening

Writing in the West Australian newspaper yesterday Professor Klinken renewed his call for one big uni by merging the four public institutions. A news story about it was on page one.

Professor Klinken proposed one big u to a state parliament committee and it was raised in the House in September (CMM September 20 and 21). The idea is that the OBU would have sufficient scale to be a world top 50 on research rankings, which would increase demand from international students, thus generating more money for research, (CMM September 20). The four public unis variously no-commented or dismissed the idea back then, but they may want to expand now on why it is a bad idea – Premier McGowan was on to the issue quick-smart yesterday, saying he would cnsider a proposal.

And if anybody wants to present one there’s encouraging news this morning. In Features, Nicholas Fisk and Daniel Owens report UNSW’s Aggregate Ranking of Top Universities, including a big performance of Paris-Saclay University, up year on year from 141 to 68. It was created in 2019, combining University of Paris-Sud (rank 153) (with four grande écoles including CentraleSupélec (346th)) and ENS Paris-Saclay (418th).

Southern Cross U keeps courses short

SCU has piloted its “revolutionary teaching model this year – it will cover “most” courses next year and all in 2023

The programme consists of one or two subjects “with carefully sequenced content” over a six-week teaching term rather than four units over a twelve-week session.

“The shorter, more focused unit structure … gives students a greater sense of momentum and motivation as they achieve milestones quickly,” SCU states.

Sounds similar to the block model developed at Victoria U, which teaches one short subject at a time.

Colin Simpson’s Ed Tech must-reads of the week

Professional Development Opportunities in Educational Technology and Education via Stephen Downes

Stephen Downes has been a go-to source for information and opinion about on-line learning for decades. He is also one of the originators of the idea of the MOOC. In this post, he shares a comprehensive from Clayton R Wright of Ed Tech/Education conferences, seminars and workshops of note between now and 2024. (I did still manage to find one that isn’t on the list – that’s at the end of this column – but you had better believe it is comprehensive)


Teaching like a Master(Chef) – Using MasterChef as a model for effective and ineffective lesson design from Medium

Reality TV shows provide us with hours of content every week of “real” people engaging in challenging practices right at the edge of their capability for our viewing pleasure. In some cases they are thrown into a task cold but more commonly they are supported in different ways that can offer us insights into wider learning and teaching practices. James Bullous explores (UK) Masterchef in this engaging post, ranging over Discovery learning, Cognitive Load Theory, feedback, modelling, motivation and more.


25 more real-world examples of Virtual Reality from E-Learning Provocateur

This post is a couple of years old now but given recent buzz about Augmented/Virtual Reality (AR/VR), it’s worth revisiting as a handy source of exemplars of innovative uses of the technology in education/training, healthcare, marketing, gameplay, “travel” and storytelling.


Brain Implant Translates Paralyzed Man’s Thoughts Into Text With 94% Accuracy from Science Alert

Something that is a little further down the road from practical application in the classroom but nonetheless fascinating is this story that draws on an article from Nature. Researchers have been able to capture thought-to-text at a rate of ~18 words per minute with high accuracy. The mind boggles.


EdTechPosium 2021 – Canberra, Friday December 10th

EdTechPosium is a one-day conference with a practical bent covering innovative uses of educational technologies in ACT universities, TAFE and schools. Once known as MoodlePosium back when Canberra education institutions were collectively a Moodle shop, it is a great opportunity to connect with the dynamic local Technology Enhanced Learning community. Keynote speakers include chief Moodler Martin Dougiamas, ANU PVC Education & Digital Professor Maryanne Dever, Ed Tech guru Natalie Denmeade and Astrophysicist Brad Tucker. For $90 including dinner, it’s hard to go wrong.

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

Dolt of the day


In yesterday’s email edition Edith Cowan U professor Clint Bracknell’s surname was misspelt.

Appointments, achievements

The Australian Council of Graduate Research has new leadership. Imelda Whelehan (UWA) is in-coming president. New executive committee members are Clive Baldock (Western Sydney U), Susan Kinnear (CQU) and Justin Zobel (Uni Melbourne) for two years and Wendy Wright, (Federation U) for one. Anne-Marie Hede (Victoria U) and Simon Moss (Charles Darwin U) continue on the executive.

CMM ran new members of the Australasian Council on Open, Distance and eLearning executive yesterday. The complete complement is, * Michael Sankey-president (Charles Darwin U) * Steve Leichtweis-VP (Uni Auckland) * Colin Lowe-treasurer (Uni Sydney). Executive members, * Kate Ames (CQU), * Travis Cox (Uni Adelaide) * Ratna Selvaratnam (ECU) * Lynnae Venaruzzo (Western Sydney U).

The NSW branch of the Australian Institute of Physics announces its 2021 awards, including, * community outreach: Andrea Morello (UNSW) * postgraduates: Joe Zhiyu Chen (UNSW) Zain Mehdi (ANU)

Uni Canberra announces Tania Broadley will become PVC E in February. She will move from RMIT, where she is Associate DVC Learning and Teaching.

Tim Gardner becomes chair of TasTAFE at month end. Mr Gardner is executive chairman of transport infrastructure company, Stornoway.

Martin Nakata is appointed DVC Indigenous Education and Strategy at James Cook U. He steps up from PVC, leading the Indigenous Education and Research Centre.In-coming RMIT chancellor (January) Peggy O’Neal is the City of Melbourne’s Melbournian of the Year.

Damon Salesa will become VC of Auckland University of Technology in March. He is now PVC Pacific, at Uni Auckland.