MOOC of the morning

Deakin U  has a course to expand the digital-teaching workforce

Lisa Milne and Chie Adachi teach, “Transforming Digital Learning: Learning Design Meets Service Design” (via Future Learn). It’s open for six months

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Merlin Crossley’s lab is working from home – here’s how it’s going.

Amanda White (UTS) on dealing with contract cheating in virus times.

Cathy Stone (Uni Newcastle) and Nicole Crawford (Curtin U and U Tas) on three essentials in the move on-line.

Kevin Bell on the challenges of on-line and why it works.

The right rate for the job at Uni Melbourne

Casual teaching pay rates were an issue last year and years before that

There were disputes over rates per hour and hours paid in a number of schools (CMM, June 5, October 30) but the one just sorted out in Maths and Statistics appears the biggest.

Probably the longest – it started in 2009, when management decided what were then tutorials were practice classes, which paid a lower rate.

After much protest, especially last year, university management decided to reinstate the tutorial rate. Earlier this month Maths and Stats advised sessionals of the decision.

Good news for casuals, while the university has not commented, number-crunching suggests they could be owed a collective $500 000 plus for 2019. Word is the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union will be pushing for back-pay for last and previous years.

Dawn Gilmore’s open learning tip of the day

#3: Establish your discussion board presence

Facilitating a discussion board conversation doesn’t have to be difficult, engage your students with the use of these three strategies.

Dr Gilmore is Director, Teaching and Learning at RMIT Online. She has a masters in education design from Uni Pennsylvania and a PhD in on-line learning from Swinburne U. Tip Two was in CMM yesterday.

No time for regulation as usual

HE and VET regulators should leave private providers alone, lobby argues

Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia says COVID-19 “is placing an unprecedented strain” on providers, who should be left alone to support students. ITECA asks regulators to, “suspend routine compliance and reporting activity.”

And lo, TEQSA delivers : the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency reminds providers it is here to help

It’s extending provider registrations and course accreditations, so providers aren’t working on their renewals. It’s also delaying reports on conditions imposed.

And the agency reminds institutions that it has relaxed the rules (February 17) on how much of an on-campus course international students here can study on-line. Good of it, given there isn’t a campus in the country teaching live and in-person.

But if you think TEQSA is going to leave everybody alone you are really dreaming on the Kerrigan-Scale. “Please be assured that we will engage directly with you over the next few weeks to discuss and develop options relevant to your context and cycle of regulatory assessments,” acting CEO Nick Saunders says.

Needed: united front against next threat to uni jobs

There’s a job problem coming

There are suggestions universities are hoping for an advance on Commonwealth grants, repayable over three years. The case for the feds stumping up is that universities without big reserves – including regionals, will run out of money to pay staff well before a return to normal.

But even if there is some government support, the crisis means universities, not just those already financially marginal, will need, or want, to cut costs.

And that could mean sacking staff in ways and numbers not possible under enterprise agreements.

This would be a disaster for individuals but also for the nation’s teaching and research effort –destroying careers, up-ending the research ecosystem.

Perhaps the way to prepare (preventing is probably impossible) for the post-virus jobs crisis is for the university peak bodies to meet with union and IR reps across HE and adopt agreed positions for talks with government now – and each other later.

More of the same VET stats

The estimable National Centre for Vocational Education Research reports training data for September – it’s the usual ordinary news

Apprentice and trainee starts were down 1.3 per cent to 156 000, on the previous September quarter. Trades dropped by 4.3 per cent, offsetting a small increase in non-trades. In what passes for a positive in training stats, commencements increased 1.7 per cent.  And last September’s stats will look great when second quarter (and hopefully only second quarter, 2020) numbers are published.

COVID-19 wrap

Uni Queensland campus only open to staff who absolutely have to be there   

Everybody else is required to work from home, which is not always easy. People reported problems with conferencing this week as ZOOM was overwhelmed.

Uni Canberra goes to virtual teaching until end May

Campus functions that will continue include child-care, Uni Canberra Hospital, and some “research-related facilities.”  Student services are on-line.

Charles Sturt U students not locked-in on fees

Today is census date, meaning students have to confirm enrolment and HECS liability, before on-line teaching completely replaces on-campus courses after break, on April 14.

However, students will be able to apply for approved withdrawal throughout first session. If this is approved they can apply for a HECS refund.

Census date delayed at RMIT

Census date for HE students is now a month later, April 30. However, course changes are due by Tuesday. “This date is critical for us to appropriately support our students to succeed with their studies, and we simply can’t compromise on that.”

James Cook U med students on COVID-19 duty

Some 366 fifth and sixth year students are deployed to regional, rural and remote hospitals and clinics in Queensland, helping with regular healthcare provision by assessing and triaging patients. “Senior healthcare students are smart and well educated, and are a logical and available resource for primary care at this time,” GP training director Peta-Ann Teague says.

Not all agree. Last week Uni Adelaide cancelled med student placements, while Flinders U continued (CMM March 19).

Data crunches COVID

The nation’s giant data crunchers are making space for COVID-19 researchers. The Pawsey Supercomputing Centre in Perth and the National Computational Infrastructure (Canberra) are providing “streamlined, prioritised and expedited access.”

NCI’s new supercomputer is ten-times faster than its predecessor. Pawsey’s Cloud (officially opening Wednesday) is “being immediately re-prioritised” to support virus researchers.