When only bacteria will do

Uni Adelaide researchers name a newly discovered type of lactic acid bacteria after SA Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier. It’s a homage “to someone who allowed them to continue their work” during the pandemic.

There’s more in the Mail

New in Expert Opinion The British Academy is allocating small grants via lottery (CMM Friday). Adrian Barnett from QUT advised the Brits on the scheme and makes the case for random selection of qualified apps. “When you have a highly competitive system, with lots of excellent applicants and not enough money, the final decisions between choosing who to fund and not to fund are on a knife edge, it’s like choosing your favourite shade of blue,” new in Expert Opinion, ep 15 HERE

And in Features this morning For work integrated learning to work it needs collaborative curriculum design. The Board of the Australian Collaborative Education Network makes the case in a contribution to Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s celebrated series, Needed now in learning and teaching.

plus Tim Winkler on the great Uni Tasmania debate – people are arguing about the wrong issues 

TEQSA guidance on research

The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency releases a “a major revision” of its guidance note on research and research training.”

It may look anodynely easily ignorable, at least until TEQSA turns up with questions about cross postgrads.

Policy scripts unis centre stage

Higher education had a supporting part at the Jobs and Skills Summit. The Australian Technology Network wants to them back top of the bill

The ATN’s pre-budget policy statement proposes using the government’s coming Universities Accord to do for HE what the summit did for TAFE – make them a policy partner.

“The Accord is our once in a lifetime opportunity to shape post-school education, enterprise and innovation,” ATN announces.

And specific recommendations are straight from the government’s show-notes  – the first, to lift low-income HE participation rates – is a core objective set by Education Minister Jason Clare.

The second – to provide skilled workers, “for priority growth sectors” is common among all ministers.

ATN also pitches research funding as serving the general commitment to applied research, and discretely calls on the government to deliver on the coalition’s plan (the now almost forgotten Economic Accelerator, CMM September 7), by “fully funding the research commercialisation package.”

There are also sector-specific speeches that need to be in the script, including ending the cap on students’ access to Commonwealth funded courses  and international graduate work rights.

But if the government is inclined to give universities a post skills summit encore of their own, ATN knows what it should be.

The showstopper ask is for HE’s own version of the TAFE-focused Jobs and Skills Australia;

A tripartite “skills forum,”  “a three-way partnership between industry, universities and government to drive the national skills agenda. It would help secure Australia’s skills future and realise Australia’s potential through practical and sustainable actions and reforms.”



Crunching complex numbers

The National Computational Infrastructure announces its fourth quarter allocations of supercomputing, cloud and data storage resources to, “support new and varied workloads”

The scheme is for projects that need access to complex kit in “short bursts,” rather than “millions of computer hours over the course of whole year.

There are 32 awards, with Uni Sydney researchers taking eight, and ANU six.

They are almost all from hard (very hard, at least for CMM to grasp) science, but one project will make for politically interesting reading – Kathryn Baragwanath (Australian Catholic U) wants to know, “can protected areas and indigenous lands mitigate electoral deforestation cycles?”

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

Scientists Asked Students to Try to Fool Anti-Cheating Software. They Did.

From Vice. Proctoring software for online exams has undoubtably been the most controversial part of education technology in the COVID era. These tools use a mixture of AI and human agents to monitor student activity in their homes during high stakes summative assessment. This article nicely sums up a 2021 conference paper from Bergmans et al. about a study where the researchers had 30 computer science students take an on-line exam, with six cheating and five behaving nervously but honestly. The technology caught nobody and its effectiveness is felt to mostly come from the perception that it works.


Perceived Anonymity and Cheating in an Online Experiment

from Eastern European Economics. This study complements the last one in some ways, demonstrating that questions of academic integrity are still thorny. 1500 Ukrainian students were asked to toss a coin 10 times, with those getting eight or more heads being entered in a cash prize draw. Students were either able to toss the coin manually, in a computer simulation or through a choice of the two. When they perceived that their tosses were private, notably more hit the statistically less likely 8+ heads target, indicating that a perception of observation is likely to affect behaviour.


ACODE Learning Modalities 2022

ACODE may not come up with the sexiest titles but their whitepaper from Ratna Selvaratnam about current thinking on learning and teaching in Australasian Higher Ed is vital reading. It summarises a recent survey of 20 ACODE member institutions and shows that the times they are a changin’. Virtually all respondents said there is significant rethinking of what learning and teaching needs to look like and there is some interesting data about what it looks like currently.


Sociomaterial Practices of Design for Learning Teams in Higher Education (Thesis) from Jenny Pesina. The people that will ultimately be tasked with supporting these changes, in whatever form they take, often live in the various learning and teaching teams around the university. This masters thesis from a Uni Sydney student offers some valuable insights into the ways these teams work and the complex collaborative environments and practices that they use to support success in this endeavour.


Webinar –  Curriculum Futures: Situational Factors in Learning Design Framework Thursday 4pm AEST from ASCILITE Learning Designers SIG

I have shared some useful learning and teaching resources from Danielle Hinton here previously so I was quite happy to see that the Learning Design SIG has booked her in to present their webinar this month. She will discuss the situational thinking that needs to occur before learning design occurs, covering students, staffing, subject, sequencing, space, scene, standards and scholarship.

Colin Simpson has worked in education technology, teaching, learning design and academic development in the tertiary sector since 2003 at CIT, ANU, Swinburne and Monash University. He is also one of the leaders of the ASCILITE TELedvisors Network. For more from Colin, follow him on Twitter @gamerlearner

High water content is king

There’s a new skill set, for people who work in irrigation

How it happened is explained HERE . (Thanks to Jenny Dodd at TAFE Directors Aus for the pointer).

Hopefully it will meet a need, “Water literacy has changed, such as the need for irrigators to now understand and have knowledge of how a water market operates. A farmer needs to not only farm, but simultaneously be an economist, trader, and weatherperson,” the Interim Inspector General of Murray Darling water resources,  warns (submission 45).


Virginia Barbour is appointed editor-in-chief of the Medical Journal of Australia, starting February. She is now director of Open Access Australasia,