The making and marketing of Deakin U’s expanding on-line courses


Birmingham makes it plain: ‘budget repair” is in the funding future for universities


Victoria U’s new services for students


Dentistry was destiny for Uni Adelaide


Always on message

They like it literal at lighthouse land

Macquarie University’s coat of arms and logo both include the Sydney lighthouse named for colonial governor Lachlan Macquarie – which explains the name of the university appeal, “light the way”. And you will never guess what features in campaign collateral – well actually you will, if you think of happy-snaps of donors holding a small model of the Macquarie light.

How Deakin does it

Airily announcing online courses will change everything (who CMM?) is one thing, creating them is just a touch tougher

Deakin’s U Darci Taylor showed the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australia conference how it’s done the other day in a presentation on the creation of the university’s Demystifying Diabetes online course. She set out pedagogical and production issues and explained how, she, with colleagues Rhonda Brown, Susie Macfarlane and Tim Crawford, “started with a goal of transforming the curriculum for a MOOC (and) ended up transforming ourselves.”

The MOOC they made is now available as a taster for a fee-paying, on-line graduate certificate in diabetes education. It’s part of the university’s “free and degree” programme, via Future Learn. Prospective students can access a two-week sampler subject before deciding on enrolling.

DVC E Beverley Oliver says that in trimester one this year 17 000 people picked up a taster and 700 went on to fee-paying enrolments in the diabetes course or units on cyber security and IT. In the second trimester Deakin will add courses on real estate, IT professional practise and a programme for people working in humanitarian aid.

The making of the diabetes MOOC makes it clear that the form is far more than the cyber equivalent of a collection of readings. The Future Learn connection demonstrates why the work is worth it.

Sweating on answers

Annaleise Naylor wants to know why people sweat it on track and field in gym and pool

The University of Canberra psychology student is surveying adults, including oldies who participate in sport to see if motivations across age-groups can apply to encourage others who don’t.  Details here.

Cuts to come

On Wednesday Group of Eight chair Peter Hoj gave the feds a serve over budget funding cuts. Yesterday Education Minister Simon Birmingham made it plain he could not care less

In a speech at the National Press Club, Professor Hoj warned the “most brutal cuts by a federal government in more than 20 years … will give away a national competitive advantage, and weaken the country’s economic resilience in the face of undesirable – but not unthinkable – global jolts.”

None of which appears to bother Senator Birmingham who responded yesterday that;

“the university sector, whilst maybe wanting to cling to every revenue stream it can, needs to be realistic that they’ve been on an incredibly good wicket; they’re going to continue to receive strong levels of government support in the future, but we have to make sure that that is sustainable.”

As for a Gonski-style give-away to get a deal done in the Senate;

“We’ve delivered fair, needs-based funding for schools because it’s the right thing to do. We are working to repair the budget because it’s the right thing to do. And, of course, when it comes to the university reforms, we will make sure we have sustainable funding for universities, ongoing equitable access for students, and a contribution to budget repair and we will, as always, be pragmatic in working with the Senate to get that done,” the minister said.

As ever, it will come down to who the crossbench listens to, but “budget repair” will be part of any deal the government does.

Up in the air

Charles Darwin U claims the first university course on how to fly a drone

Learning how to fly a drone can’t be as hard as it looks, with the university saying it takes two weeks to qualify for a commercial drone licence. The course is offered in cooperation with training provider Fly UAS and completers will be “job ready” to fly aircraft weighing up to 7kg.

Learning about lectures

Academics who like things the way they were hate the idea that if the lecture is not on its last legs it is certainly not up to running a marathon

But Katie Freund and friends at ANU are up for the long march and are running a series on the role of the lecture, in the excellent ANU Online Coffee Courses, here.

And ANU people know of which they speak. Back in 2015 DVC Marnie Hughes Warrington charted lecture attendances. In one course 450 students attended a week two lecture but by week seven just 250 were left. “We desperately want live lectures to work. We’ve done them for so long now that they seem a part of who we are. And we are tantalised by the mirage of thinking that if only everyone turned up, they would be a far more efficient way of teaching than the seminar or the tutorial,” she wrote back then (CMM July 9 2015).

Super-duper student services

Victoria U rolls out two new programmes to build student appeal

Victoria University is introducing new schemes to assist graduating students into employment. Talent Connect is a work prep programme to help final year students with job search and securing skills. The university will also record student engagement via VU Extra, a resume-enhancing formal statement of student community service while studying.

Both measures are designed to appeal to two crucial audiences. One is people who need convincing that a degree is a practical pathway to work. The second is Simon Birmingham. The education minister wants to introduce performance metrics for universities tied to funding and graduate employment is expected to be one of them.

Winners are grinners

At the University of Adelaide dentistry was destiny

Back in 2014-15 it was teeth bared between the University of Adelaide’s dental school, the only one in South Australia, and the state government. They were at odds over a new location for the state dental hospital and whether running it could go to tender (CMM July 22 2015). In the end UniAdelaide spent $50m moving the hospital to be close to the school in the city’s flash new hospital precinct and kept the contract. The decision by then VC Warren Bebbington was vindicated yesterday when the Academic Ranking of World University’s listed UniAdelaide’s dental school 39th in the world, and the only Australian in the world’s top 50.

Dolt of the day

Is CMM. In yesterday’s ARWU coverage ANU’s national-best rating in political science (24th in the world) appeared but the university’s name was deleted in production.



winners of the working week


Jonathan Powles has started as PVC Academic Innovation at the University of New England. Professor Powles moved from the University of Canberra, where he directed the teaching and learning centre. Prior to UniCanberra he was curriculum director at ANU’s School of Music.

Monash U has appointed Elizabeth Croft dean of engineering, “after an extensive global search”. She joins from the University of British Columbia, where she is an associate dean and a professor of both mechanical engineeringand engineering economics. She leads research on robots in manufacturingProfessor Croft will join in January, until then Jeffrey Walker will act.

Jainlin Chen starts at the University of Melbourne’s law school and Asian Law Centre next month. He joins from Hong Kong Law School.

Banker and ANU council member Naomi Flutter will be the university’s pro chancellor as of next month.

The Peer Prizes for Women in Science are announced. Funded by the Melbourne based, Sun Foundation, the two $20 000 awards are won on the basis of votes cast by women scientists who can demonstrate they are the authors of peer reviewed publications (CMM June 6).

The life sciences winner is ANU’s Megan McDonald for her work on a newly discovered fungal species that kills wheat.

An interdisciplinary team won the earth, environment and space award for research on biodiversity redistribution caused by climate change. The winners are Gretta Pecl (UTAS), Julia Blanchard (UTAS), Lorena Falconi (JCU), Charlene Janion-Scheepers (Monash), Sarah Jennings (UTAS), Vicki Martin (SCU), Phillipa McCormack (UTAS), Jan McDonald (UTAS), Nicola Mitchell (UWA), Sharon Robinson (UOW), Justine Shaw(Australian Antarctic Division), Jan Strugnell (JCU), Adrianna Verges (UNSW), and Cecilia Villanueva (UTAS)

The University of South Australia has created a new leadership role for its MBA and executive education programmes Peter Stevens moves from Hewlett Packard to fill it.