Curtin U MOOC a trendsetter for teachers

Lang out of advancement at UNSW

Uni Wollongong’s $80m commitment to life sciences research

Jacobs shuffles UNSW executive

UNSW advancement VP Jennie Lang will not return to the job when she completes her leave in March. VC Ian Jacobs has responded by abolishing the position, which covers, media, marketing and digital comms, and placing them in a new portfolio of marketing, communications and international which will take over domestic and international student recruitment from the Education portfolio. Fiona Docherty, now VP International takes over the expanded portfolio. Professor Jacobs thanked Ms Lang yesterday but made no mention of what she will do next, or where she will do it.


Starting fresh

The feds have appointed a council for international education to “strengthen and expand the role” of Australian international education. Members are: Kent Anderson, DVC, UWA, Brett Blacker – CEO, English Australia, Sue Freeman CEO First Impressions Resources, Phil Honeywood – CEO, International Education Association of Australia, Tracey Horton chair designate, Navitas, Karyn Kent – CEO, StudyAdelaide, Nina Khairina, president, Council for International Students Australia, Gerald Lipman – CEO, International College of Hotel Management, David Riordan – Director of City Operations, City of Sydney, Belinda Robinson, CEO, Universities Australia, Derek Scott – Principal Haileybury College.

The council will oversee the government’s international education strategy, created this year by short serving minister, Richard Colbeck who lost his Tasmanian senate seat at the election. This will not be hard, as CMM put it when the light-on for detail document was released; “there are no specific objectives or accountabilities, commitments or costings, no dates and details on who will do what by when and how achievements will be assessed.”

From Canberra to Kensington

Dennis DelFavero is leaving the Australian Research Council, which he joined on secondment from UNSW in August last year. He is executive director for humanities and the creative arts at ARC. DelFavero is returning to UNSW to take up a new post as professor of digital innovation. The ARC says it is searching for a replacement.

International education experts honoured

The International Education Association of Australia announced its award winners last night. Stephen Connolly from GlobalEd Services is honoured for his distinguished contribution to international education over 25 years. In 2002 Mr Connolly was one of the first to go on record “calling for a national strategy for international education in Australia,” the citation states. Julia Renwick from University of Wollongong College receives the excellence in leadership award for industry service. The best practice honour goes to Aaron O’Shannessy and Bonnie Hermawan from the Asia Education Foundation for their BRIDGE project, which has created connections between 286 Australian and Asian schools. Ben Campbell and Daphne Ng from Deakin U are the awarded innovators for their digital campaign selling Deakin to international students on its coffee and cool. Stuart Hughes from IDP wins the commentary award for his research database. Pamela Humphreys from Griffith U is the research award achiever for her thesis on English language proficiency of international students.


Wednesday’s ribbon cutter

Education Minister Simon Birmingham will launch the University of Wollongong’s $80m Molecular Horizons centre at Parliament House, not the university this morning (it’s a sitting week). According to UoW, the centre will be, “a world leading research facility dedicated to illuminating how life works at a molecular level and solving some of the biggest health challenges facing the world.” UoW is especially pleased with the $7 million ultra-high-resolution Titan Krios cryo-electron microscope, which “will allow researchers to see with unprecedented clarity the inner workings of human cells.” The centre will house 200 researchers.

MOOC of the morning

Last month Curtin U launched an edX micromasters on human rights (CMM September 21) and this morning it has another edX offering, Demetrios Sampson’s Analytics for the classroom teacher. “Experts from all over the world will provide an overview of the current state-of-the-art in teaching and learning analytics. You’ll learn how teachers, curriculum developers and policy makers are collecting and analysing data from the classroom to help guide decisions at all levels,” edX announces.

Great branding for Curtin, great resource for keen teachers and a pointer to the future for professional development courses. How long before a state education minister in the mood for a blue with teacher fed officials makes MOOCs mandatory?

Deal of the day

CQU VC Scott Bowman is back at work after long-leave and starting as he means to go on, making the most of what he has all-over. Yesterday he announced the university’s bachelor of agriculture in partnership with Rural Industries Skill Training at RIST’s Hamilton (western Victoria) campus. RIST’s certificate and dip courses will be a pathway into the CQU degree – taught in Hamilton, where CQU “would be investing in staff and resources.”


PM’s literary prizes

The short list for the prime minister’s literary awards is out with scholars well-represented:

Nonfiction: Julia Cotter (Federation U) for Tom Roberts and the Art of Portraiture, Sheila Fitzpatrick, (University of Sydney) for On Stalin’s Orders: the Years of Living Dangeroulsy in Soviet Politics, Karen Lamb, (Australian Catholic University), for Thea Astley: Inventing her own Weather,

History: Geoffrey Blainey, The Story of Australia’s People: The Rise and Fall of Ancient Australia, Suzanne Rutland (University of Sydney) and Sam Lipski, Let my people go: the untold story of Australia and the Soviet Jews 1959–89, Peter Monteath and Valerie Munt, (both Flinders U) Red Professor: the Cold War Life of Fred Rose, Doug Morrisey, (PhD, LaTrobe U), Ned Kelly: A Lawless Life, Robert Stevenson, (official historian Iraq, Afghanistan theatres and East Timor), The War with Germany: Volume III—The Centenary History of Australia and the Great War

More to come

ABC Radio’s PM ran a very average report last night about the oversupply of teaching graduates. The tweeted summary “Unis spruiking careers in teaching to possible students despite glut of graduates” explains the yarn. It featured a woman who is yet to get a full-time teaching job six years after graduating but did acknowledge that getting work could come down to what you could teach and where you will teach it. Queues form for maths and science grads who will go to the bush.

There were more anecdotes and opinions than analysis – which makes CMM wonder why nobody pointed the reporter at research on demand for teachers, in the National Teaching Workforce Dataset, here. Granted it’s a couple of years old but the data is used to model three scenarios decades out. In one plausible scenario (CMM October 21 2014) it is 20 years before proportional growth in teacher numbers exceeds the same growth for students.

What makes this story important is less content than what it points to – the community concern that will occur as the growth in graduates under student centred funding does not translate to them all getting the jobs they think they were promised and know is their right.


History civil wars

While all are polite historians are animated by the Australian Historical Association’s proposal, now withdrawn to create a journal ranking, along the lines of the old ARC one (CMM Monday and yesterday). ARC Future Fellow Professor Mark Edele from the University of Western Australia dismissed a learned reader’s suggestion that a ranking was bad because it would lead to less attention for Australian history. He and 14 history colleagues from UWA opposed the proposal for a wider range of reasons, notably, “such a framework will create the very hierarchy it purports to describe (and) it will have the effect of narrowing scholarly choice, sustaining fewer and impoverishing the quality and diversity of research in our field.”

But Professor Robert Cribb from Asian history at ANU, is having none of it; “advocates of ranking (including me) argue metrics are already widely used to the disadvantage of history in Australian universities. (The) journal impact factor largely ignores Australian history journals and history is the lowest ranked of Thomson-Reuters’ 234 disciplines in terms of citations. A journal ranking devised for Australian circumstances and with proper consultation would substantially help Australian history in bibliometric battles,” he told CMM.

Professor Cribb’s full argument is here.