What a difference two days make

Uni Sydney staff have a long, long weekend

Management has decreed Thursday and Friday are university holidays ahead of the Monday NSW public holiday in NSW.  “These dates fall within mid-semester break to minimise disruption,” the university tweets.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

James Guthrie (Macquarie U) on Deakin U annual reports and what they reveal.

plus Susan Blackley and Lisa Tee (both Curtin U) argue students like campus life and blended learning is not a complete substitute. This week’s selection by Commissioning Editor Sally Kift for her celebrated series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

with Angel Calderon (RMIT) on the new QS employability ranking – universities with industry-aligned missions shine.

and Merlin Crossley (UNSW)  on the true aim of a university education. Not every student has to be expert in everything but they have to be an expert in something.

The Euro-ranking that doesn’t rate

If some commercial uni rankings read like products, Multirank looks like the work of officials who would rather be right than read

EU funded Multirank creates comparable profiles of universities based on five standard sets of variables, teaching and learning, research, knowledge transfer, “international orientation” and regional engagement. But it does not combine them into scores that are ranked from highest to lowest. Rather, it’s a resource for people to create their own comparative sets by geography and institution and discipline.

It’s a good-enough idea for 45 ANZ institutions to participate and it is way less cumbersome than it used to be (CMM June 7 2019).

But it does not make good promotional copy for uni marketers, of the, “eleventy-first among universities in countries starting with A for astronomy and water-polo” kind and is accordingly and unfairly obscure.

Uni Melbourne makes campus vax mandatory

Vaccination will be required to be on Uni Melbourne campuses when they open on November 5

Vice Chancellor Duncan Maskell told staff yesterday that, “from this date, all students, staff, contractors and visitors attending our campuses will be required to be fully vaccinated.”

Vaccination will allow members of our community to move seamlessly between activities on our campuses and participate in the experiences in broader society that will be made available to fully vaccinated individuals.”

Professor Maskell says the university, “will endeavour to support individuals with a valid exemption to complete their study or undertake their work, in a manner that is reasonable and practical”

The VC added that implementation plans are being developed. However as of yesterday there is no mention of payment for staff and incentives for students to vaccinate, as Monash U announced last week, (CMM September 27 ).

The campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union also asked for further and better particulars on how testing and safety measures would work. “The Uni Melbourne community must feel physically safe to learn, teach, research and work in support of the mission of the University.”

Uni Melbourne is the third Victorian university to announce vaccination as pre-req for being campus, following Monash U and a proposal from La Trobe U management (CMM September 21).

Lights out for the lecture at Uni Sunshine Coast

“Face-to-face or pre-recorded lectures are being replaced with learning materials,” USC management tell students

“Traditional-style lectures” have “poor learning outcomes” be they face to face or recorded, USC advises.

So, starting next year, instead of lectures there will be digital delivery of “a range of different materials, such as formative quizzes, podcasts, interviews, simulations, screencasts and recorded discussions,” which are, “equivalent to an hour of traditional lecture.”

This will allow tutes and labs to “focus on developing an enhanced understanding of the learning materials.

Tutes will be live, either on campus or via ZOOM and will not be recorded, “as this does not allow crucial interaction and active leaning.”

To which a USC student petition responds that people who nominated to do a face to face course will not get what they signed up for.


Colin Simpson’s Ed TECH reads of the week

This week’s must-reads in education technology

How Dx Powers the Post-Pandemic Institution from Educause

We started with UX (User Experience), moved on to LX (Learner Experience), and now the ed tech world is talking about Dx, which appears to stand for Digital Transformation. (Don’t ask me why). Meaningful change to learning and teaching involving technology requires an approach encompassing technology, pedagogy and institutional culture. In the absence of a large body of academic research or models relating to how these kinds of educational change projects work at scale, a lot of these kinds of projects lean on generic IT project management strategies. This post from Educause, and the rich resources that it links to, presents discussion and frameworks for undertaking Dx specifically in educational institutions.

Why captions are everywhere on TikTok: ‘Glasses for your ears’ from Los Angeles Times

With some reports indicating that people now spend more time watching videos on TikTok than YouTube, it’s worth keeping an eye on the ways that the format of video content on this platform is evolving. This article from the LA Times dives into the widespread use of text captions – both automatically and manually generated – to augment video content on TikTok for all users, for a variety of reasons. While educational institutions still largely use captioning for accessibility, and research findings about the impact of them on learning is mixed, the fact that it is becoming commonplace for people to turn captions on for Netflix as we multitask while viewing shows suggests that more thought needs to be given to text in videos in education.

Why are hyperlinks blue? From dist://ed Mozilla blog

While they aren’t always blue and underlined, the default setting for a link to another page in HTML is resolutely underlined blue. In our years on-line, we have doubtless seen tens or hundreds of thousands of these links and seldom given this a thought – it is simply a convention of the web. This deep dive from the people at Mozilla (creators of the Firefox browser) travels back to the origins of hyperlinks in the 1960s and traces the design decisions that led us to this convention.

An OPM Debate: 11 Colleagues in 32 Tweets from Inside Higher Ed

On-line Programme Management (OPM) is a rapidly expanding sector in Higher Education that is not widely discussed. In a nutshell, they are businesses outsourced by institutions to provide services including learning design, course building and student recruitment, support and administration, among others, in the on-line course space. In Australia, this includes Kaplan, Keypath and OES. I recently came across this post from 2019 that summarises a Twitter discussion about OPMs between executives and academics in the US that still has some relevance. It crosses a range of issues including HE values, where innovation comes from, who pays for risk and how academia and industry see each other.

Stem Mixer from Courtney Barnett

Courtney Barnett is a big-name Melbourne indie-music darling with a new record coming out. She’s done something interesting to promote this, putting up a virtual mixing desk allowing fans to play with a new song (or an old one) by isolating different instruments, looping sections, and raising and lowering levels. Tools like this are great for teaching people how audio production works and creating opportunities to play while doing so.

Colin Simpson has worked in education technology in the tertiary sector since 2003 and is employed by Monash University’s Education Innovation team. For more from Colin, follow him on Twitter @gamerlearner

First way back for international students 


How the Sydney pilot will fly

On the back of the federal minister for Education and Youth’s optimistic comments at the English Australia conference two weeks back (CMM 20/9/21) NSW is the first state to announce the latest iteration of a planned return for Internationals.

The NSW International Student Arrival Plan will start before year-end

Key points as outlined by Study NSW are:

* funded by industry, with the support of NSW Government and endorsement of the Australian Government, 250 international students are set to return each fortnight to study in NSW. ​

* all international students who return to Australia must be fully vaccinated with a Therapeutic Goods Administration-recognised COVID-19 vaccination, and will quarantine in purpose-built student accommodation in Sydney. ​

CMM understands the scheme has 14 Universities signed up. Ten NSW unis, two ACT unis and two multi state / national universities – ACU and UNDA.

Furthermore, the initial Pilot will constitute two chartered flights of 250 students. Flights will be via Singapore with 14-day quarantine in student accommodation in Redfern.

Who pays? Students pay airfare, unis pay quarantine which will be run by NSW Police and NSW Health.

An evaluation will be worked through in December 2021 and with all going well a plan for full programme from early 2022.

CMM applauds the NSW government for their boldness and asks one question. With only TGA recognised COVID vaccinations being allowed, what about China (and Nepal)?

Dirk Mulder advises education and business clients on trends in international education. He writes regularly for CMM




STEM teachers good: recruiting good, growing better

Among many discipline experts, former Chief Scientist Alan Finkel long argued for more STEM teachers in schools (CMM July 11 2018). And now the NSW Government is acting – announcing $13.5m to recruit 560 STEM-qualified teachers from interstate and overseas by 2024,

It’s a plan peak body Science and Technology Australia was quick to welcome yesterday, while pointing to ways to create more home-grown STEM-teachers. STA’s submission to the Commonwealth’s Initial Teacher Education review included, trialling stipends as incentives for STEM students to study education and for teacher education students to try STEM electives and a “Teach for Australia” style programme for STEM professionals and researchers to retrain as teachers.


Appointments, achievements

Simon Biggs is announced as the next VC of James Cook U. He will move from UWA, where he is senior DVC.  Professor Briggs will start in February, replacing Sandra Harding, who has been VC since January 2007.

 Caleb Ferguson is moving to Uni Wollongong to be an AsPro in nursing. He is now at  Western Sydney U.