Thunder and lightning-bridges less frightening

UNSW reports lightning fatalities outnumber deaths by bridge collapse by one hundred. But to be on the safe side UNSW researchers are working on mobile technology to measure bridge safety.  Problem is there are bridges, then there are bridges, with local government not having budgets to have permanent monitors in place on bridges now carrying way more heavy traffic than they were built for.

There’s more in the Mail

In Expert Opinion

There was a ton of talk about training at the Jobs and Skills Summit. Claire Field sets out the opportunities and challenges for VET and it must be way less “a political plaything” (episode 13 HERE)

and in Features this morning

The Australian Collaborative Education Network Board on quality outcomes of work integrated learning and why it must involve students. New in Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s celebrated series, Needed now in learning and teaching

plus Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on why knowing stuff matters and why Google isn’t everything

and Frank Larkins (Uni Melbourne) on the WA public universities 2021 financials – they had a very good year

with Mahsood Shah (Swinburne U) on the message in international student satisfaction survey scores. Institutions must do better.

Big on the Blockchain

While crypto currencies come and expensively go research on the potential of blockchains to transform the way people can exchange value rolls on especially at RMIT

Jason Potts and colleagues have published three working papers on the potential of blockchains – in about a week! They are all at the Social Science Research Network.

RMITers and friends have been at it for a while, exploring the where, how and why of blockchains in all sorts of environs. CMM started reporting their work way back – a paper on how blockchains for researchers could make journals unnecessary – even OA ones, (CMM April 26 2016).


Jobs to go at Auckland Uni Tech

VC Damon Salesa announce a “recovery programme”  

The university reports up to 230 jobs could be lost, from 4,354 total staff. The causes are a “significant drop” in international students, inflation, “economic pressures” and a drop in domestic student enrolments.

Administration and support will be reviewed and “a small number of declining courses and programmes” will close.

Auckland University of Technology reported a net surplus of NZ$12.173m in 2021, marginally up on 2020, with revenue stable

Clinical placement costs cap nursing student numbers


Nursing schools were not all impressed when Victoria announced new scholarships (CMM September 2). This is why

Nursing schools were not all impressed when Victoria announced new scholarships (CMM September 2). This is why

Public and private hospital providers have increasingly introduced fee-paying for undergraduate nursing placements over the last 10 years, initially restricted to private providers but more recently and more widely introduced by state public hospital systems, to cover clinical supervision costs.

The problem is Commonwealth activity-based funding for hospitals through Health Agreements with states is meant to include funding for clinical teaching, training and research in hospitals. And that public funding is meant to cover clinical teaching across all health disciplines – medicine, nursing, allied health. Except that, many hospital placement providers are using ABF income to cover the costs of fee-free clinical training for medical students. This means there’s no public funding left over to cover the supervision costs of nursing and allied health students, which means hospitals have to pass the costs on to universities.

Under the Rudd and Gillard governments, which set up Health Workforce Australia, there was a dedicated Commonwealth funding programme specifically for clinical training for nursing and allied health disciplines, the HWA Clinical Training Funding Programme. It was paid to directly to universities, calculated on their EFTSL enrolments, to use as they determined to fund or subsidise the costs of clinical training.

The Abbott government abolished the HWA, and along with it the CTF, in 2015. Since then, universities have had to cover the entire cost of clinical training for nursing and allied health students, in an environment of increasing fee-setting by providers.
More recently, as a result of the Jobs Ready Graduate (JRG) Package introduced by the Morrison Government, nursing and midwifery and allied health courses saw a reduction in the student contribution to fees without a requisite and commensurate increase in government funding for the CSG portion.

In real terms, this has meant a $1700 reduction per nursing student per year. For a nursing school with 2000 students, that’s almost $3.5m lost.
For universities offering nursing courses, many of them have to artificially limit their nursing intake, dependent on the availability and affordability of clinical training places. Many universities are, or were (before the pandemic nursing workforce crisis), oversubscribed in nursing applications. There’s plenty of demand from qualified, quality prospective students – there just isn’t enough money in nursing and allied health undergraduate education to pay for the clinical placements.

So putting more funding into additional places isn’t going to do much, if there’s not an accompanying investment in public and private hospitals to cover the costs of clinical training.

Danielle Brown is Project Coordinator in Edith Cowan U’s School of Medical and Health Sciences

A way for Jobs and Skills Australia to work

The estimable National Centre for Vocational Education Research has views

NCVER’s submission to the Senate committee considering the Jobs and Skills Australia bills sets out how agencies that went before worked and suggests the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency, “offers the closest alignment.”

“AWPA’s key functions were to develop sectoral workforce development plans, assess research, consult industry, disseminate information on workforce planning issues and advise on government funding. This arrangement provided the industry with a direct say in Australian government investment in workforce development.”

The coalition abolished the agency in 2014, moving its functions to the Department of Industry. NCVER mentions in passing the coalition-created National Skills Commission, which Labor is abolishing.

Colin Simpson’s ed-tech must read (and views) of the week

A framework for designing asynchronous learning activities from Alexandra Mihai


A tweet last week about students not turning up to a lecture got me thinking that, rightly or wrongly, asynchronous activities are doing more and more of the heavy lifting in HE learning and teaching. This thread of tweets from Alexandra Mihai sets out a series of useful steps to take as you design these kinds of activities to ensure that story, structure, sequence and schedule are managed well.


Broadcasting your voice to Zoom breakout rooms from Zoom

Having students in breakout room activities in Zoom has long had the challenge of providing updates and communicating changes on the fly. The text messaging function is adequate but fleeting and can be easily missed. The latest Zoom update has added the option of broadcasting your voice to participants in all of the breakout rooms at once. If students have captioning active, this will also appear on screen. (Students do need to be running the updated version of Zoom, which often happens by default)


Project Shasta from Adobe cleans up audio with AI from Adobe

Another handy audio tool – currently available by invitation – is Project Shasta in Adobe Creative Suite. This enables you to drag an audio file in recorded anywhere and it cleans up background noise to a studio sound level. This TikTok video showcases audio recorded outside on a busy street.


Teaching Online Hub from UniMelb Faculty of Arts’s Meredith Hinze

I noticed a link in a colleague’s email signature last week to this rich Padlet full of handy resources and guides about all facets of online learning and teaching. It is UniMelb centric, with a focus on institutional tools, but there is still a lot to take away from it.


Learning and engaging in gaming and interactive environments – Webinar Tuesday 6th Sept 11am AEST (10.30 ACST) – from Uni of Adelaide

This webinar from the Uni of Adelaide Library is this morning and explores the work of two researchers working with games and interactive environments. This includes the development of a game addressing the Spanish colonisation of MesoAmerica, a VR experience of the Torres Strait Islander history, culture and traditions and more.


Hyper-hybrid Learning Spaces in Higher Education – Webinar Tuesday 6th Sept 5pm AEST from Deakin CRADLE

Later today, you can also hear from Danish Associate Professor Rikke Toft Nørgård, Aarhus University, about Hyper-hybrid Learning Spaces. With hybrid and hyflex teaching modes still a part of the landscape, this is a great opportunity to see what the research has to say.

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

Appointment, achievements

Richard Hobbs (UWA) becomes an honorary member of the British Ecological Society. Membership is the society’s top honour.

 Sharon Lewin (director of the Doherty Institute) is the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences’ Outstanding Female Researcher for 2022.

Anne-Marie Morgan joins Uni South Australia as UniSA as Dean of Programmes at Education Futures.

 Forbes McGain and Jason Monty (Uni Melbourne) and collaborators win the MTP Connect Biomedical Translation Bridge Award for their isolation hood, to protect against airborne infections in hospitals.