Four levels of optimism

Level One. There is still a promo on-line for a Monash U executive short-course on, “leading and managing internationalisation in higher education.” Level Two. the “invitation only” event is scheduled for September. Level Three. It’s planned for the university’s Prato Centre, in Tuscany.  Level Four. The most recent advice on the centre’s website is that it is closed until May 3.

A Corona Bot with no lime, but lots of AI

Uni Sydney wanted a bot double-quick, to answer student questions on COVID-19. So, they asked Microsoft

The company created Corona Bot in a week. It answers two or three questions from 300-400 students a day. How it happened and why it works are explained by Microsofthere.

Affordable payload

The Australian Space Agency now has a Facebook page! To celebrate it’s giving away on merchandise pack, with a cap, a mug, a hoodie and a t-shirt. Even NASA started small.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Jack Goodman (Studiosity) sets out what the crisis will change, “COVID will refocus university efforts on students as the top priority”.

Vitomir Kovanovic, (Uni SA) and Maren Scheffel, (Open Universiteit, The Netherlands) explain how to prevent COVID-19 killing your conference @  – a new contribution to Contributing Editor Sally Kift’s series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

Tim Winkler on the new national market for on-line education and training. It’s bad news for local heroes.

Uni and union leaderships in talks to cut costs and save jobs

A group of vice chancellors and National Tertiary Education Union federal officials have been talking (April 2)

Late Tuesday the union set out terms for cooperating on staff savings, including protecting casual and low-paid staff and senior management “bearing a larger financial burden”.  The NTEU offered flexibility on employment conditions where a university has made savings but needs more (CMM yesterday).

Last night Universities Australia responded for the system that; “universities recognise there is an opportunity to save jobs if we can achieve significant short-term cost reductions while working through the uncertainty affecting the sector.”“Discussions with the NTEU at the national level have been constructive. We are hopeful we can achieve a solution, and will continue to work with the unions in pursuit of a deal that works in the best interests of all,” UA chief executive Catriona Jackson said.

The research bumf burden

Forms eat time but apparently the peak agencies are on to it

Adrian Barnett petitioned parliament last year for an inquiry on improving research ethics and governance. “Millions of dollars-worth of Australian health and medical researchers’ time is being wasted on: submitting the same forms to multiple review committees; or submitting forms for negligible risk research that should not need formal oversight,” the QUT biostatistician and president of the Statistical Society of Australia said (CMM July 3 2019).

But nothing doing – apparently, the feds think the National Health and Medical Research Council and Australian Research Council have the problem covered.

Monash U student need outpaces admin

Applications for emergency grants are opening late

Last week Monash U announced student support of a $500 emergency payment and $7000 in grants, with a separate payment of $5000 for students from China and Iran, “who incurred reasonable costs” due to travel bans.

The cash went fast over Easter, so fast the university has delayed opening applications for the grants until Friday.

UTS appeals dismissal defeat in FWC

As widely expected, UTS is appealing its Fair Work Commission loss against Lucy Zhao

The university sacked Ms Zhao for unsatisfactory research performance however the commission’s Deputy President Sams over-ruled this, stating, among other points, that as research accounted for only 40 per cent of her time and she was ok on the rest of her work  it, “is difficult to conceptually and rationally conclude that a 60 per cent performance rating equated to poor or unsatisfactory performance overall,” (CMM March 12).

On-line education ideas in engineering, science and technology

Today’s is three in a series by Steve Mackay and Edwina Ross (Engineering Institute of Technology) 

Go mobile: The Internet of Things has revolutionised mobile learning for engineers and scientists. We once had a student attending a session on the train between London and Glasgow while his teacher presented between the vines in the Swan Valley, during a staff Christmas lunch!

There are many ways in which a phone or mobile device becomes your learning tool; it can be used, for: * communication, * assessment, * reading data in the environment, * written assignments, * social networking, * collecting data, * simulation, * using the camera to record lab experiments, and as * a remote control

More: here.

From Ulster with optimism

Paddy Nixon has started as VC of the University of Canberra, moving from Ulster University

“I have been struck by the support and care our staff and students are showing for each other. Thank you for this and for wholeheartedly embracing the challenges we face. I can’t help but be excited about what we can achieve together,” he says. Jove, imagine his enthusiasm when he meets a campus full of people in person.

VET workforce surveyed

The estimable National Centre for Vocational Education Research has published the first profile of the VET workforce for a decade

Genevieve Knight, Ian White and Pip Granfield used survey data from early 2019 on numbers and qualifications.

They found just under half the 71 000 trainers and assessors (29 per cent of the total work-force) were employed part-time.

In terms of qualifications in the field they teach, 89 per cent had a Certificate III or above, with most holding not much more for teaching.

The survey was taken before the July 2019 start of the required new Certificate IV in Training and Assessment but for the vast majority of trainers this would require an upgrade, with 93 per cent holding the old Certificate IV . The possibility of teaching-degrees being the norm in VET (CMM June 21 2018) is a long way off.