A hard no

WA Chief Scientist Peter Klinken suggests the state needs one university, instead of four (CMM yesterday)

So CMM asked Curtin U, Edith Cowan U, Murdoch U and UWA what they thought about the idea. Curtin was quick to respond that, “it hasn’t been involved in any discussions and won’t be commenting further.” Ditto Edith Cowan. Murdoch responded that it had nothing to say. As did UWA.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Mahsood Shah (Swinburne U) sets out students’ nine  expectations to improve teaching. This week’s contribution to Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s celebrated series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

plus, Corey Bradshaw (Flinders U) and colleagues have a fairer way than the H Index  to compare researchers at different career stages and across disciplines.

Counting the uncounted in Victorian public unis

James Guthrie tries to work out how many people they have employed

In a major analytic exercise, Professor Guthrie (Macquarie U) examined the various records Victoria’s public universities provide, to find the staff numbers change from data set to set.

“Sometimes the variations are in individual university practices from year to year. This has the effect of distorting the numbers considerably. As public sector entities why are these universities not following the Victorian Treasury guidelines on workforce data disclosures as required? When we mix the data from the Charities Commission reports into our analysis, the numbers become even less transparent, as they mainly differ significantly from those in the 2020 annual reports.”

His analysis of all eight is in CMM features this morning.

Southern Cross U gifts extra Christmas leave

 VC Tyrone Carlin tells staff that everybody needs to, “down tools and enjoy a richly deserved period of rest”

Which they will be able to do with an early Christmas shutdown, starting on December 20 – that week is concessional leave. SCU will be back on January 4.

La Trobe U proposes mandatory vaccination

First there will be encouragement then requirement

The university announces a possible two-stage strategy. Until November it will provide “support and encouragement” for all staff and students “to get vaccinated as soon as possible.” There will be a vax site on the Bundoora campus, arrangements on regional campuses are “being explored” and there is vaccination leave for staff.

From December, “anyone attending campus (staff, students, contractors, visitors) will be expected to be fully vaccinated.”

For staff and students with medical and “other legally recognised” exemptions, LT U will make arrangements for work and study to continue. However, “staff and students who remain unvaccinated by choice may not be able to have special arrangements made for them, which may lead to them compromising their ability to fulfil their respective obligations for work or study.”

LT U will survey staff and students, “with aggregated responses helping inform future initiatives.”

Deakin U VC Iain Martin put mandatory vaccination for campus access on the agenda in August (CMM August 10) but LT U VC John Dewar is thought to be the first to enact it.

Degrees stay a good deal

The Graduate Outcomes Survey demonstrates why

COVID-19 had close to no impact on employment for 2018 graduates, with a fractional decline last year. Just shy of 90 per cent of 2018 grads with bachelor degrees were in full-time employment.

However, there were substantial numbers of grads still studying, notably in science and mathematics, HASS and psychology.

The GOS reveals PG coursework study is a better business for men – three years after graduation they are earning 13 per cent more than women. The gender-pay gap for research postgrads is narrower, but it’s still a gap, $4000 after three years.

After three years, employment figures for graduates of all universities range from Western Sydney U (85 per cent) to Australian Catholic U (95 per cent).

The GOS is part of the Quality Indicators for Learning Teaching, produced for the feds by the excellent Social Research Centre. It is based on a 49 per cent response rate (37 650 valid responses).

Colin Simpson’s education technology must-reads of the week

The iceberg theory of EdTech: One Laptop Per Child from Gaurav Singh (Twitter) (5 mins)

The One Laptop Per Child initiative is a cautionary tale about what happens when well-meaning thought leaders with compelling pitches for ed tech don’t do due diligence and actually ask the people on the ground if their idea will work. OLPC was a project to manufacture and give robust, crank powered laptops to young learners in the Global South to help them eLearn out of poverty. This Twitter thread from @gauravsingh961 forensically works through the details of the failure of this project as a case study against the “tech as silver bullet” mentality.


How Learning Technology Can Help from Education…technically (6 mins)

Rolling out a learning technology is only part of many when it comes to good digital education. The Scottish pivot to on-line learning in higher education due to COVID19 was the focus of a recent government taskforce there, and Chris Kennedy discusses the vital support component of it in this blog post. While there was a sensible decision to lean heavily on JISC resources, he notes the virtual absence of input from expert professional support staff, subsequent proposed cuts in support to achieve efficiencies, and an expectation that educators will add a suite of digital learning capabilities to their quiver in their free time. In terms of understanding how some of the powers-that-be understand 21st century education, this post is eye opening.


How dark patterns trick you online video from Dark Patterns (7 mins)

User Interface/User Experience (UI/UX) has come into its own as a discipline in the last decade or so in helping us to understand how we use the web and how to design better and easier interactions. The shadow side of this – “Dark Patterns” – sees business and designers exploiting these principles to make users do things that they didn’t mean to using design tricks and cognitive science. This video explains some of these common tricks and the site overall offers some valuable tips to deepen our digital literacy.


“The end of Blackboard as a Standalone EdTech Company” from Phil on EdTech

While the title of this article veers toward the dramatic, the recent merger of the Blackboard LMS company and Anthology, a company with products on the student management, enrolment and retention side of things is kind of a big deal. This article walks through the details of this merger with somewhat of a business focus but it also discusses possible implications for particular platforms and institutional users. Given that Blackboard still has approximately a third of Australian LMS market, this is something useful to stay on top of.


Games for Change Asia Pacific Festival Oct 5th – Oct 7th

On a slightly more cheerful note, the expanded Games for Change festival is coming up in early October. This free on-line event offers more than 80 speakers talking about different ways serious games, game-based learning and other associated technologies are being used in tertiary education and beyond to help build a better world. It includes a mix of presentations and interactive workshops.

Colin Simpson has worked in education technology in the tertiary sector since 2003 and is employed by Monash University’s Education Innovation team. For more from Colin, follow him on Twitter @gamerlearner

Appointments, achievements

The Australian Society of Plant Scientists announces its 2021 awards. Joanna Melonek (UWA) – early career researcher.  Kim L Johnson (La Trobe U) – mid-career woman researcher. Xiaoyang Wei (Uni Newcastle) – early career researcher, travel. Ximeng Li (Western Sydney U) – best paper.

Danya Field is Griffith U’s new general counsel. She moved from legal and risk head at Virgin Australia

Sarah McNaughton (Deakin U) chairs the National Health and Medical Research Council’s new dietary guidelines expert committee

 Brent Ritchie starts today as dean of Uni Queensland’s Business School. He moves up from associate dean R in the university’s Faculty of Business, Economics and Law. He has the job for two years with the university announcing it will go to external recruitment “at an appropriate time” to either confirm Professor Richie or identify a new head of school.