Never smile at a  …

“A 10-month-old saltwater crocodile will be the first of kind in Australia to call a university home, “ James Cook U announcement yesterday. Presumably they excluded all the human ones in chancelleries.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

With blended learning set to stay , Lisa Tee and Susan Blackley (Curtin U) write on creating on-line laboratory and practicum course components. Theirs is Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s first 2022 selection for her celebrated series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

David Chinofunga (James Cook U) on access to advanced maths in schools. Disadvantaged students miss out on courses that build careers.

NHMRC applications open

But don’t drop everything today, to work on a National Health and Medical Research Council 2022 Investigator bid

The application form won’t be available until Friday, when a planned outage ends on the Council’s Sapphire system.

Assiduous applicants can use the time to pick the ten papers they want to submit in their forms – the NHMRC has capped the number (CMM yesterday).

Influencers trump celebs for cred

Swinburne U researcher Oluwakemi Shobowale finds people prefer beauty product marketing that comes from influencers, not celebrities

The former rate higher for attractiveness, trust, expertise and are seen as “real people”. “The micro-celebrity has a voice in a niche, which is more likely to be the consequence of competence,” Dr Shobowale says.

As a lost cause beauty-wise, CMM will take her word for it.

Need for speed in research publishing

For-profit publisher Taylor and Francis announces a pay to publish service for biomedical researchers with news that can’t wait

Articles can be published in a range of journals in five weeks from submission for a US$7000 fee.

“Acceptance of articles in all journals offering accelerated publication is driven entirely by editorial considerations and independent peer review, ensuring the highest standards are maintained no matter the route to publication,” T&F states.

And to compensate peer reviewers for moving things along, they will be paid, just not much – a US$150 honorarium.

Taylor and Francis suggests the service helps researchers  “keep competitive advantage by getting your discoveries to market quickly.”

For people who can afford to wait, there is a cheaper nine-week service and a “standard-track” 16-week publication process without author charges.

With open access challenging “pay to read/publish” business models and academics annoyed by long selection and production cycles this appears a way for the publisher to extract value from the traditional journal model.

Data to develop Uni SA workloads

University management and the National Tertiary Education Union disagree about a proposed workload model, particularly the student consultation component

Two conciliation conferences did not resolve the dispute and so Fair Work Commissioner Platt suggested it would be “prudent” of the university to “consider the current data … to inform the decision-making process and identify impacts.”

If the university agrees and does the work by beginning March, consultation with staff could be complete by April 1, with a proposal for 2023 by the end of the month and any adjustments for a final model by June.

The idea of using data to develop workload models appeals to the FWC.

Last year the commission concluded Uni Sunshine Coast should “either conduct research or gather data to develop workload models based on a median or average time taken to do the work,” (CMM December 2).

To which NTEU Queensland secretary Michael McNally responded, “this is an opportunity for university managements across the country to sit down with the NTEU and develop some rigorous and, most importantly, reasonably accurate models to allocate work for academic staff.


Swinburne U announces Tara Magdalinski is confirmed as PVC Education and Quality. Andrew Kong becomes PVC and CEO VET. He joins from Victoria U.

Colin Simpson’s ed tech reads of the week

On Reading the Syllabus: A Pedagogical Thread from Twitter (@ec_leininger)

Academics often complain students never read the unit outline, and from time to time a story will crop up about someone adding something quirky to get their students’ attention. Late last year a senior academic at the University of Tennessee posted a photo on Facebook of an unclaimed $50 note in a locker that he included the code for in a boilerplate policy section about not making allowances for COVID. Educators like Dr Liz Leininger were underwhelmed by this and shared this helpful thread about getting your students to read your syllabus by making it engaging and interactive instead.


Online Program Management Firms Are Thriving. And These Democrats Want Answers from The Chronicle of Higher Education.

OPMs are third-party providers that are increasingly partnering with Australian universities to build, deliver and administer their on-line course offerings. This article is American in focus so there are undoubtedly differences in systems and context but it does bring to light some questions that are being asked in the halls of power about these relationships.


We know why you hate online learning – and it has nothing to do with quality from Edugeek Journal. Nearly two years into the pandemic and we are hearing a growing chorus in some circles of people who are just tired of everything to do with on-line and remote learning and want to return to the old ways. These discussions are frequently wrapped up in rhetoric around the superiority of in-person teaching. Matt Croslin from EduGeek Journal dove into the research literature and spent a little time exploring the validity of these claims.


Learn programming in a codable music video from TikTok. This is a basic tool in some ways but I’m a sucker for new interactive applications of coding and video in the service of better learning and teaching, so here we are. The latest music video from Doja Cat for her new song “Woman” allows people to change a number of variables coded in CSS, Javascript and Python at different points that change the appearance of things in the video. It’s a fun way to introducing programming structures and concepts to a new audience of learners. The joy of the person discussing it in this TikTok video is something that needed to be shared as well.


How to win at Wordle using linguistic theory from The Guardian

I recently saw Wordle described as the sourdough starter of the Omicron era – the new craze people are latching on to as a social distraction from the world. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a simple, free, one-a-day word puzzle with elements of the old Mastermind game. The addition of a simple share function that lets people show their success without spoiling the answer has led to an explosion of Twitter posts with grids of green, yellow and white squares. This article from David Shariatmadari explores some handy linguistic strategies for Wordle success.

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

No new audit of ARC

The Australian National Audit Office will not expand the ARC’s world of pain

The ANAO has declined a request by Tanya Plibersek that it investigate the federal government’s administration of the Australian Research Council. Labor’s shadow education minister asked last month, before the (very) late announcement of Discovery Grant awards, on Christmas Eve.

Auditor General Grant Hehir now responds, “while the outcomes of the ARC’s grants programmes were announced later than usual, in considering your request for an audit, I have not identified any additional issues relating to ARC’s grants administration that would warrant prioritising such an audit.”

Which is pretty much what he told Greens senator Mehreen Faruqi, who requested an audit of the ARC when it excluded Discovery Programme applications, which breached a newish and obscure ban on citations of pre-prints (CMM October 25).

The ANAO’s announcement yesterday is a rare bit of good-ish news in a disastrous summer for the council.  Last month acting education minister Stuart Robert instructed the ARC on directions for research funding and told the council to establish an advisory committee with, “additional external and end-user perspectives.”

He also vetoed six Discovery Grants, which were approved according to council processes.

Prior to that announcement ARC chair Sue Thomas had  already resigned. She leaves at month end.