Not yet lecture normal

There were “back to campus life” pics across Twitter yesterday including lecture theatres, COVID-capacity full of students. “It won’t really be back to normal until they are all but empty because students are watching the recordings” a learned reader rues.

MOOC of the morning

La Trobe U announces “a sports diplomacy course.”  No. it’s not about being polite when beaten by a drug cheat

It is for athletes and officials who want to be “an effective ambassador” and “represent and advance Australia’s interests in the Indo-Pacific and other regions.”

The MOOC is free, although a completion certificate costs $70.

LT U developed the MOOC in partnership with DFAT – which if the feds funded it instead of an advertising campaign, seems a very sensible use of public money.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Angel Calderon (RMIT) on the growth of women in university leaderships and the challenges that continue, “universities need to focus on retaining and attracting academic talent but also ensure systems and robust process are in place which not only encourage but actively nurture women to apply for promotion.”

plus Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on the power of universities to encourage greatness and counter group-think

and  Jacquie Tinkler and Gene Hodgins (CSU) on help for students with mental health issues who choose on-line. Some do so to manage study around their particular condition. This week’s selection by Commissioning Editor Sally Kift for her celebrated series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

with Garry Carnegie (RMIT) on global university rankings – why they are a menace.

What’s next for casuals on the hunt for regular jobs

The Fair Work Commission  heard Toby Priest’s complaint that Flinders U decided he does not qualify for conversion to continuing employment last week and is now thinking about it 

Mr Priest is one of thousands of casuals at universities across the country who managements decided did not meet the continuity test for conversion to regular jobs under legislative changes to the Fair Work Act.

So have universities, in  common with other employers acted appropriately? The Attorney General’s department will review compliance, starting late March.

Second go to get a grant

The WA Government announces “near-miss” medical research awards

There’s $100 000 for researchers who came close but not close enough to winning a National Health and Medical Research Council Ideas Grant.  The 12-month funding is to “enhance their application for resubmission.”


VET on-line not easy

The Australian Skills Quality Authority surveyed organisations it oversights about taking courses on-line. The optimism was not overwhelming

VET providers worked with the way the world was during COVID-19 quarantines mark one. Private providers moved from 6 per cent fully on-line prior pandemic to 38 per cent in what is optimistically described as “post”, given the newly released survey was conducted a year back.

Providers who did not move on-line said digital delivery it was not suitable for students and/or content in courses they provided.

Some said it could be done with planning and investment. But others thought, “those technologies were likely to be too expensive, require too much lead time to implement and/or warrant new expertise, or would be disallowed by training package rules, industry and/or sector regulators.”

Perhaps ASQA could help by talking to “sector regulators,” oh, wait.

Macquarie U VC advice to staff, wherever they are

“We all have a responsibility to stay informed and manage our level of risk,” VC S Bruce Dowton  told staff yesterday

Which means being on campus for class and work, or not. For students, as of yesterday, “on-campus teaching continues to be scheduled for Session One, with flexible on-line options still available in many units for those who may be unable to attend campus.”

And for staff, “we will continue to support those of you who wish to work from home where your role allows it.”

As for vaccination, we “strongly encourage” all staff and students to be vaccinated and boosted and for others to use RATs “to help you make an informed decision about coming to campus.”

Names can change but USIs are forever

The HE unique student identifier is before parliament, in the snappily titled Education Legislation Amendment (2022 Measure Number One) Bill 2022

This requires students to provide their USI to their institution. This is to ensure providers can supply student data to the feds and calculate “students entitlements to Commonwealth assistance” as the explanatory memorandum puts it.

Problem is not everybody with a USI is providing it. “Higher education providers have experienced difficulties in collecting student identifier information from eligible persons,” the bill memorandum states.

Gosh, why could that be? Perhaps because of discrepancies in records. The USI Registry suggests when the names on student IDs differ from the USI, people have to make sure the former conforms to the latter (CMM October 15 2021).

Which students who like the name they go by may not be inclined change because they are told to.

Colin Simpson’s ed tech reads of the week

Academic Writing Analytics (AWA) Project from UTS Connected Intelligence Centre

As student cohorts and lecturer workloads get larger, automating feedback on student writing has become increasingly desirable in education technology. Tools to support the basics of writing in terms of grammar and structure are relatively commonplace now but identifying and commenting on critical/analytical thinking and reflection is understandably more complex. The UTS AcaWriter application, developed by their Connected Intelligence Centre in conjunction with the Institute for Interactive Media & Learning and the Higher Education Language Presentation Support unit seems promising in this space. While this is only available to UTS staff and students, there is an open demo site and this open-source software is also on GitHub.


99 Tips for Faculty Development in End Times from Karen Costa (Medium)

Academic Development units (or Faculty Development as they prefer in the US) are generally centrally based teams that provide pedagogical advice and workshops. Karen Costa is a Fac dev from the US with many interesting ideas about this area of work, particularly in a time of great change fatigue. She shares three key ideas for shaking up the way these units operate that are well worth the time.


The rise and fall of Ed Tech Startups from @EduCelebrity (Twitter)

This highly tongue in cheek and somewhat jaded take on the education technology life cycle from Twitterer @EduCelebrity nonetheless makes some insightful observations about technology, edupreneurs and well-meaning investors moving into the education space.


VideoSticker – video note taking system from International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces 2022

The richness of video as a medium for sharing concepts and information is unquestionable but it does present challenges for learners when it comes to transferring these to their own class notes. This paper from Cao et al, due to be presented at the upcoming Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces conference in Helsinki proposes a tool that allows students to easily create and manipulate “stickers” – essentially screenshots of components and text in the video – and incorporate them into their notes. There is also a handy video explainer on YouTube.


Heygo – virtual tourism

Sticking with video, while international borders are opening, it will still be a while before we return to any kind of “normalcy” with travel. Heygo lets you join enthusiastic locals around the world as they live-stream guided tours in their regions. It’s a fascinating way to find very niche spots that you might never have otherwise stumbled upon.

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




Jennifer Flegg becomes chair of the Australian Mathematical Society’s Women in Mathematics Special Interest Group.

Johanne Trippas will return to RMIT, as a Vice Chancellor’s Research Fellow. She moves from Computing and Information Systems at Uni Melbourne.