Keeping muppets safe from microbes

If you missed antibiotics awareness week it was not due to an absence of effort by microbiologist Hosam Zowawi, the University of Queensland’s “superbug fighter and polo player.” Dr Zowawi has NHMRC money for the former but as far as CMM knows not the latter. Last week he explained what people can do to reduce antibiotic resistance, notably co-starring in a tweet with a worried muppet.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features today David Myton looks at why 3D technologies may be set to re-shape university teaching and learning.

UoQ wins edX MOOC of the year

A University of Queensland MOOC has won the 2018 edX prize for exceptional contributions in online teaching and learning. Blake McKimmie, Barbara Masser and Mark Horswill are honoured for their Psychology of Criminal Justice MOOC, running since 2014. They take students through a murder, from corpse to trial verdict, examining processes and procedures in eight episodes.

Hooray for UoQ: According to edX, “this incredibly innovative use of realistic drama combined with novel assessments to reinforce the course content, truly demonstrates the passion that these professors have for this subject and, in turn, helps to excite the same passion in learners.”

It is another achievement for the UoQ massive on-line open course community, a national leader in encouraging content and developing demand across the many present and emerging MOOC markets. With 100 000 enrolments in the first year of its bized micromasters, for example, the university is already refining them to meet market needs, (CMM October 12 ) and CMM October 24).

It’s not alone: UoQ does not have leadership to itself in the Australian moocverse. The shortlist for this year’s edX award also included Curtin U’s Reputation Management in a Digital World, a subject in its innovative digital marketing micromasters, and the University of Adelaide’s Shakespeare Matters, (“learn about Shakespeare’s plays and their influence through a focus on emotions such as love, hate, and jealousy.”)

ScoMo’s 2016 advice on research national interest: “look beyond the headlines”

Education Minister Dan Tehan’s requirement for a research national interest test looks like the sort of thing the prime minister approves of. Not quite.

Back in August 2016 then treasurer, Scott Morrison responded to a News Limited appallathon over HASS research saying of grant agencies, “we expect total accountability from all these bodies and I think what you’re pointing out will raise a lot of concerns on people’s minds.”

But the then treasurer added; “there was a project a while back which had to do with the research into snails and it copped a lot of flak. Well, that was actually a project that was looking at the infestation of particular insects that were destroying crops. As you would expect that has a pretty significant impact on Australia’s productivity. So, I would say look beyond the headlines of some of these projects. I think some of them will raise questions but others I think might have more value than it first looks like.”

There’s good news and …

Last week University of Tasmania Antarctic researchers reported krill will cope with ocean acidification caused by carbon emissions. This is good, given krill are a “key link” in the Antarctic food chain. But then on Friday other U Tas researchers advised that warming waters would change microbial activity, reducing carbon, “locked away in the depths of the Southern Ocean,” which is bad.

Hard numbers: UNSW proposes academic performance measures

UNSW wants to roll-out quantitative teaching and research benchmarks for academics, as part of the university 2025 strategy. “Academics have told us that they want a more formal quantitative way to measure what ‘good’ looks like in their discipline at their academic level,” PVC Academic Excellence Anne Simmons says. Once in place the benchmarks will be used in annual staff appraisals.

The process started over a year ago, with plans to manage staff reviews circulating a year back. University management has now developed performance requirements for all academic levels, which are out for consultation.

This will not take long if staff agree with the National Tertiary Education Union. According to the comrades, the proposed targets are “unreasonable and unachievable,” will increase workloads, lead to bullying and “undermine the real work needed for academic excellence.”

Deakin certifies non-uni skills in deal with marketing industry

Deakin U is expanding its skill certification product range, in a deal with the Australian Marketing Institute. It’s a move meant to increase Deakin’s competitiveness in the MOOC micromasters space.

What’s happening: Through its DeakinCo subsidiary the university will assess marketing competencies for AMI expert certification as an expert in five fields, data, digital, content, creative and customer experience. Certifcation is intended to be, “a common currency that demonstrates a person’s current professional capabilities.”

Certificates will be issued on the basis of applicants’ evidence, assessed by the university for a $495 fee. Deakin is at pains to point that these credentials are not degrees, but they are aligned with international qualifications and industry skill frameworks.” And they “may lead to credit towards further study at Deakin University.”

What it means: “Deakin’s Professional Practice credentials are intended to be affordable for individual professionals and are priced competitively versus other micro-credential options, like the MOOC-based credentials available from Coursera and edX,” a university spokesperson tells CMM.

“Through DeakinCo, Deakin has created the framework, model, technology and internal capabilities to sustain a world-class professional credentials system, underpinned by rigorous assessment methods and validated by industry.”

In addition to the AMI programme Deakin offers professional practice credentials at bachelor, pre-bachelor and masters levels in a range of generic work-life skills.

Celebrating but ignoring

Celebrating 25 years of excellence in vocational education,” the Department of Education and Training tweeted lunchtime Friday, with a url to a VET minister Michaelia Cash page. Sadly, the link, for winners of the Australian Training Awards, went to “the site you are looking for is currently unavailable please try again later.”  Learned VET readers suggest it says it all about the government’s attitude to voced. The link was  live when CMM checked yesterday.

It’s all in the timing

Grant announcements are on hold, with speculation that the Australian Research Council announced delay is due to it working on the “national interest testEducation Minister Dan Tehan wants (CMM November 1 and CMM November 6). Among all the deploregrams about the sticking in of the ministerial bib Emma Johnston makes the point that the extra wait is seriously stuffing scholars around. The president of Science and Technology Australia and UNSW science dean says researchers are still waiting – for the results of applications submitted at the start of the year, with peer review responses in June.

“More than 9 months after their application went in – they are still waiting to hear the outcome for research projects that are meant to begin in January.” This means those with the stomach for it are now thinking about new applications which will need to go in before, or not far after they learn about their last ones.

“Researchers are in limbo,” Professor Johnston says.

The way grant timetables are organised is a perennial problem for researchers who have, or would like to, lives outside lab and library.Back in 2014 Danielle Herbert (then QUT) and colleagues reported their survey of National Health and Medical Research Council applicants which found grant-writing made summer tough for applicants with young families.

Learning scientists set out seven principles for student success

The premise and promise of university study is learning for life and a new Australian handbook on how students can acquire the skills they need launches at the University of Queensland tomorrow.

The Australian Research Council supported Science of Learning Research Centre (SLRC) sets out seven principles in its Higher Education Learning Framework. Co-author Jason Lodge (UoQ) says the handbook, “is a substantial and important piece of work given actual student learning is often overlooked in discussions about quality in higher education in recent years.”

The seven HELF principles, which the handbook sets out strategies to apply, are:

learning as becoming: how students apply knowledge in life, as well as occupations

contextual learning:  applying learning in “novel and unfamiliar contexts”

emotions and learning: the ways students’ emotions shape learning

interactive learning: “the conscious and unconscious processes underpinning how students and teachers interact”

leaning to learn and higher order thinking: students taking charge of how they learn

leaning challenge and difficulty: how students can develop persistence and resilience

deep and meaningful learning: students moving from passive consumption to using previous learning to connect with new content

Appointment, achievements

Katy McDevitt is leaving Deakin U where she is director of professional education and moving to Pearson, as director of digital learning and innovation.

 The Victorian Young Tall Poppy science awards for 2018 are announced, including; Kathryn Backholer (Deakin U, policy to improve diet), Bianca Brijnath, (depression, dementia diagnosis in older migrants, National Ageing Research Institute), Andy Casey (Monash U, chemicals in distant stars),  Tim Doherty, (Deakin U, wildlife ecology,) Nishar Hameed (Swinburne U, strong, light materials), Roslyn Hickson (Uni Melbourne, maths models of disease spread), Megan Lim (Burnet Institute, public health), Yen Ying Lim (Alzheimer’s, Florey Institute), Erin McGillick (Monash U, fetal lung development), Gemma Sharp (Monash U, women’s body image),  Michelle Tate (Monash U, influenza).

YTP of the year is Scott Griffiths (Uni Melbourne, eating disorders),