The playlist’s the thing

Monash U VC Margaret Gardner  publishes her selection of songs referenced in staff messages, that “reflect(s) the current climate in which we are working and living.” Number One is “Don’t Stop Me Now” (Queen).

As if anyone would dare try.

Uni Melbourne Covid policy insults staff says union

“the vice-chancellor and provost could lead with common sense approaches to keep us safe”

Uni Melbourne no longer requires evidence of double vaccination for people to be on campus. This it states, is in-line with Victorian Government policy, “which may be unsettling for some people, especially those who are, care for, or live with someone who is more susceptible to severe illness.”

However the university is sticking to being an,  “open and active campus, with teaching and learning, research and student engagement and most support activities continuing to be delivered on campus.”

“The university encourages any colleague with concerns about how this change may affect you to consult your doctor or health practitioner and then your supervisor.”

To which David Gonzalez, Uni Melbourne branch secretary for the National Tertiary Education Union, responds, “it is insulting to staff that at a university renowned for health and science teaching, research and scholarship the university is asking staff to talk to their GP about what is obvious to everyone paying attention.

“Regardless of what the government is requiring, when the vice-chancellor and provost could lead with common sense approaches to keep us safe – like requiring vaccinations and allowing staff that can work from home to do so, they choose to add stress and confusion.”

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Trudy Ambler (Macquarie U), Jayde Cahir, (Macquarie U) and Anna Rowe (UNSW on the benefits of academic mentoring. New in Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s celebrated series, Needed now in learning and teaching.

plus James Guthrie is making a submission to the Tasmanian Legislative Council’s inquiry into the state university’s Act. With the uni’s 2021 annual report not out until next month he researched what is – here’s what he found.

and Merlin Crossley went to the Universities Australia conference. He liked what he learned.

What young people make of history

Curriculum researcher Rebecca Cairns (Deakin U) wants to know why Y10-12 secondary students do, or don’t study history

So she is surveying them.

Results will be informative for the Australian Historical Association, which has a new report on jobs that history grads do (CMM July 5).

Maths not munitions in defence research

There are new tech grants – for things that  don’t go boom

Six National Intelligence and Security Discovery Research Grants: Intelligence Challenges were announced yesterday making a success rate of 7 per cent.  The six each receive just under $600 000

Macquarie U: security for Edge computing, “where billions of lightweight devices” collect information and interact with remote data services.

Macquarie U: invalidating phone scammers’ business model by re-directing calls to, “conversational AI Bots optimised to present convincing scam victims”

Monash U: measure public and elite opinion in China and India

Uni Melbourne: machine learning by miniature satellites

UNSW: electromagnetic interference shields

UTS: protection from microwaves for defence satellites

There is funding for four National Security Challenge projects, with a 12 per cent success rate and the same funding

ANU: data-driven methodology to mitigate supply chain threats

Uni Melbourne: quantum-based sensors for chemical/explosives

Uni Queensland: low-power device to detect explosives at trace levels

UWA: protecting AI against deception attacks

How hard green electricity can be

Harder than just plugging generators into the grid

Uni Queensland has $496 000 from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (total project $1.46m) to model connecting solar farms to the grid.   

New generators have to agree to complex performance standards, meeting which ARENA states, “can lead to significant delays and significant costs.”

So Uni Queensland and electrical engineer partner EPEC will build a model of a solar farm and the power system for testing.

The ambition is, “faster and lower risk commissioning will result in lower cost renewable energy projects and reduced barriers for hybrid projects.”

Monash VC managing pay expectations

Margaret Gardner sets a context for enterprise bargaining

The university’s salary expenditure for 2022 will be up 10 per cent on 2021, due to pay raises under the previous enterprise agreement and salary increase increments she stated in all-staff message yesterday. Staff numbers are also up 4.5 per cent year to year and the university is recruiting for 450 positions.

Professor Gardner also pointed to demands on the university’s two most recent  operating surpluses, which she did not specify but were, $259m in 2020 (CMM February 8 2021) and $305m in ’21 (CMM May 3 2022). Some $286m is committed research funding. “Not all of a surplus is free to spend on any of our needs,” she says.

And then there is income. Funding for domestic students and fees from internationals are expected to decline on 2021. Plus inflation, “which our revenue is not increasing to match.”

And yet with all this, “we expect to begin negotiating a new EBA this year, which will provide increased salaries.

But perhaps not as much as the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union  wants. Last week the union called for an extra 4 per cent, on top of the 1 per cent just paid under the old Enterprise Agreement. The union‘s national leadership is calling for 5 per cent per annum for three years in new enterprise agreements at all universities (CMM July 11).

Colin Simpson’s ed-tech must reads of the week

Some thoughts on ‘home’ pages for individuals within communities (and social networks) from Open Thinkering

One of the more common concerns raised in discussion of on-line learning and teaching centres around building community. Creating a warm and active space when your interaction with people is via pixels on a screen can be a huge challenge. This post from Doug Belshaw isn’t specifically about education but the principles are highly relevant. One interesting point the author makes relates to “notification literacy” M– community members’ ability to feel connected but not overwhelmed by activity.


Innovating Pedagogy 2022 from The Open University and  Open University of Catalonia

This collaborative report offers a rich state of the actual in terms of current and emerging pedagogical approaches. It includes the still controversial “hybrid” mode, microcredentials, influencer-led education, video “watch parties,” wellbeing, and pedagogies of the home, autonomy and discomfort.


EdTech procurement is the most boring…and most important thing we should be studying from Ben Williamson (Twitter)

A lot of popular discourse around education technology can be heavy on philosophical principles and light on practicalities. This branching discussion thread brings a lot of experienced commentators together to discuss how and why the processes behind evaluating and implementing education technologies are poorly understood and under examined despite this having some of the most significant impact on actual learning and teaching.


Edtech procurement matters: It needs a coherent solution, clear governance and market standards from EDDS & LSE

This working paper from the London School of Economics and education consultancy/think tank EDDS is focused more on education technology procurement in schools but many of the questions raised are highly relevant to the tertiary sector. Of particular note are questions around how technologies are evaluated before purchase and how their value is measured in practice.


The DALL-E 2 Prompt book from Dallery Gallery

If you are yet to discover the wonders of AI generated art – fantastical images created by computers from simple text prompts – a quick google image search for DALL-E 2 is time well spent. This 82 page guide from Dallery Gallery showcases some of the many prompts that might be used to create imagery in the style of impressionist painters or the TV show Starsky & Hutch. Now I just have to wait for my access to the beta to come through.

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


Alan McKee starts as head of Uni Sydney’s School of Art, Communication and English. He moves from UTS.