There’s more in the Mail

In a world-first for tertiary education, the University of Newcastle is adopting a personalised approach to learning design, known as “Big Picture Education.”  Erica James explains.

Tiago Barros from Publons reports on the state of peer reviewing, including growing demand for, but declining supply of, reviewers and the push for publishing reviews.

Catalogue of job cuts for Charles Darwin U library

Management says the library needs to improve performance, so there’s a proposed new structure with fewer jobs

The change proposal calls for a head cut from 41 now to 27 – saving $922 000 a year. The university certainly appears to need the money (the NT auditor reports a $21m deficit last year on $254 in revenues) however the change proposal is scathing about the library’s existing operation, “many employees are aware of gaps or weaknesses in service and process delivery, and have great ideas, but escalating ideas to managers has not always resulted in timely action.”

To address this and numerous other outlined issues the university proposes, “a new structure aligned with new ways of working and positions that are aligned with the employee profile at similar regional universities with multiple campuses such as Central Queensland University, and allows for more flexibility and capability to provide resources to meet demand as needs change throughout the annual cycle.”

Management adds user comment, including the 2018 Insync client satisfaction survey, identified specific areas for improvement – response to consumer feedback, support for research data management and the capacity for research support to meet growth demand. Good-o, but 2018 Insync also rated the CDU library first amongst the 27 benchmarked and reported that on five core functions, “not only are these services among the most important to clients of the library, they are also being performed well.”

Learning to design learning

QUT  offers a grad cert in innovative design learning

Apparently, completing it ensures one, “will be well-versed in the core principles of learning and instructional design within a dynamic digital space, and well-equipped to prepare innovative instructional material in the form of online coursework, seminars, workshops and tutorials.”

They’re under-selling how on-line learning can transform teaching, including on-campus lectures. The extraordinary David Kellermann (UNSW) shows how to personalise a mass (really mass) in-person lecture, here.

Start-ups where the jobs are

Universities tell undergraduates that their degrees generate jobs – the ones with strong entrepreneurship programmes are probably right

Small young firms are the engine of net jobs growth in Australia,” Sasan Bakhtiari reports in a new paper for the Chief Economist.

It’s more dramatic than it sounds – in 2010–15, small firms from start to three years accounted for all net job growth.  While big and medium sized firms added a bunch of jobs, small mature firms downsized, “so the net effect in the absence of small young firms is negative.”

“Small young firms are not only covering the gap but also adding jobs on top of that,” Dr Bakhtiari states.

There’s more good news, “after 2014, entrepreneurship and job creation among small young Australian firms has constantly improved.”  – although it’s not that good, “the level of firm entry in 2016 is still below that of 2003.”

Which makes the case for the universities with entrepreneurship units embedded in degrees. A way for young people to find a job in business is to found one.

(Where the entrepreneur courses are:  CMM July 17 ).

National Party wants independent agency to vet research

People are being railroaded by science that might be wrong warns MP

Federal Council of the National Party has adopted a motion from George Christensen (Nats-Qld) to create an “independent science quality assurance agency, to check scientific papers underpinning public policy and affecting peoples’ lives and livelihoods.”

The motion, “notes recent concerns about the ‘replication crisis’ or ‘reproducibility crisis’ in science” and calls on the federal government, “to provide quality assurance and verification of scientific papers which are used to influence, formulate or determine public policy.”

Mr Christensen represents Queensland communities including Bowen, Mackay and the south of Townsville. He is a supporter of coal mining, and of Peter Ridd, the former James Cook U scientist who criticises research at the university which concludes the Great Barrier Reef is in poor condition.

Farmers, coal miners, business and industry across this nation are being railroaded by policies that have been implemented because scientific research papers said there was some problem that needed fixing. Many of those last scientific papers have never been tested and their conclusions may be wrong,Mr Christensen posted to FaceBook Saturday.

He is not the only member of the Nats backbench unimpressed with universities. In his first speech, last week, new Queensland senator Gerard Rennick suggested TAFE skills-training should “take precedence over non-vocational university degrees.”

App of the day

Apple has a new watch on health research

Last week’s Apple product launch included a new app for its watch – “which democratises how medical research is conducted.”  A free new app is for users to provide data, in the first instance, for three US studies, on menstrual cycles and gynaecological conditions, the relationship of heart rate and mobility signals to hospital admissions and impact of everyday sound exposure to hearing.”

Democratises medical research? Sure, among the Apple enfranchised.

Young Tall Poppies of Queensland science

The 2019 list includes;

Benjamin Allen (Uni Southern Queensland) – human conflict with wildlife. Jyotsna Batra (QUT) – genetic basis of prostate cancer. Katia Bazaka (QUT) – low temperature plasmas. Caitlin Curtis (Uni Queenland) – genetic technology in healthcare. Andrew Hoey (James Cook U) – marine ecology. James Hudson (QIMR-Berghoffer Institute) – human bioengineered muscle tissue. Laura Fenlon (UniQueensland) – plasticity in brain function. Sara Herke (Uni Queensland) – properties of networks. James Kesby (Uni Queensland) – dopamine in decision making. Severine Navarro, (QIMR-Berghoffer Institute) – immune system and allergies in new-born babies. Jodie Rummer (James Cook U) – climate change and marine eco-systems. Stephanie Schoeppe (CQU) – improving physical activity in families. Stephanie Topp (James Cook U) – governance for accessible health care.

Appointments, achievements

AsiaLink (at Uni Melbourne) announces its list of the 40 most influential Asian-Australians aged under 40 (as selected by a learned panel); it includes Muneera Bano (software engineering, Swinburne U), Eddie Woo (maths education evangelist, NSW Department of Education and Uni Sydney). Meru Sheel, (epidemiologist, ANU).

Barney Dalgarno will become the University of Canberra’s executive dean of education in the new year. He moves from Charles Sturt U, where he is deputy PVC learning and teaching.

The Heads of Departments and Schools of Psychology group has a new executive. Renata Meuter QUT) is in-coming chair, replacing Stephen Kent (La Trobe U). Lorelle Burton (Uni Southern Queensland) takes over from Aspro Meuter as deputy. Carla Litchfield from Uni SA replaces Julie Ann Pooley (Edith Cowan U) as secretary. Karena Burke (CQU) continues treasurer and Nigel Bond (Western Sydney U) as executive officer.

  Anthony Koutoulis is appointed DVC R at the University of Tasmania, he is now acting in the post. Professor Koutoulis joined Uni Tas in 1996, he is a molecular biology researcher.