“Who knew?” of the day

It’s safer internet day (who decides these things?) and CSIRO uses the opportunity to warn that 50 per cent of people use the same password for multiple platforms, which “can create a security issue.”

Talking to the learning analytics believers (and the not so much)

The Learning Analytics community holds its eighth annual conference in Sydney next month. And a very focussed gathering it will be, with a mass of papers on using data to measure and improve, teaching and learning.

But the organising committee, (all from the University of Sydney, including LA maven Abelardo Pardo) appears aware of how scary it can look to the uninitiated. A keynote speaker is learning analytics “outsider,” Neil Selwyn from Monash U, who will talk about “key concerns,” “as learning analytics becomes more embedded in education settings.

“These range from familiar debates over data reductionism and algorithmic transparency through to growing unease that learning analytics are implicit in the devaluing and demoralisation of education as a human pursuit.”

MOOC of the morning

Half a million people enrolled in previous runs of the University of Queensland’s grammar MOOC, via edX, and there are more to come. Roslyn Petelin, Amber Gwynne and Megan Porter teach the course from February 19. It was short listed last year for edX’s teaching and learning award.

There’s more in the Mail

David Myton’s wrap of world news is in Features, including Ireland’s policy push to create Europe’s best higher education system by 2026.

QUT creates “unfit for study” policy

QUT has established a “fitness to study” policy, designed for “students who experience significant health issues which lead to disruptive or concerning (‘at risk’) behaviour.” According to registrar Shard Lornezo, it is designed for circumstances where disruptive student behaviour, now covered by conduct policies, is due to “significant health issues.” The new policy sets out circumstances where students may be “unfit for study,” details process and specifies who in the university hierarchy is responsible for what.

Where to work

Graduates name financial services company Evans Dixon as top employer in a new survey for the Australian Association of Graduate Employers. The public sector is the preferred employer with 19 state and federal agencies – including the NDIS and Victoria’s Level Crossing Removal Authority.

The banking and insurance sector is the largest private employer group, with CBA at 8th, the most popular of the big four banks.

Walker moves north

Shawn Walker is moving to Charles Sturt U, leaving La Trobe U where he is sales and customer experience director. He will become ED marketing and communications at CSU.

TAFE likes the look of university lunch

The end of demand driven funding was not the only enrolment hit universities copped at the end of last year. The government also cancelled a proposal for them to expand into sub degree courses. But this will not end blurring between HE and VET. In the UK degree apprenticeships, in largely white collar industries, is talked up and here the public training system is looking for ways to grow. TAFE Directors Australia’s budget submission proposes ending the $15 000 cap on VET student loans so it can offer higher-tech courses.

“Now that the VET Students Loans has been implemented and has thus far shown itself to be resistant to the excesses of the previous VET FEE-HELP scheme, TDA recommends the government adjust the scheme so it can meet the real costs of quality training, and aim to meet the demands of students as they seek to build their skills profile and career prospects in a changing economic environment,” TDA proposes.

This would be useful for the 11 TAFEs that are already HE providers and which TDA also thinks should have access to higher education funding. “TDA acknowledges that this proposal runs counter to the current cap on growth in university places but contends that it would be a modest increase in outlays and paves the way for a more diversified tertiary education sector.”

Which is the point. With DDF gone university leaders need new proposals to get back into the policy game – there is talk of a grand review of post-compulsory education. The problem for the universities is that the broader the debate the more vocal other voices will be. Voices who have not annoyed the government as much as the universities did last year.


UoQ and the ambivalent embrace of the Ibis

What is it with the University of Queensland and birds? University comms teams regularly reports the doings of ducks on campus and now one is using the local ibis to encourage students to enrol early. “An ibis would not wait in a queue so why should you?” the university asks on Facebook. Then again, ibis also steal students lunch (there is a UoQ video to prove it), so perhaps this is not the best example.

Humboldt award

Macquarie U’s Ingrid Piller has won a €250 000 Anneliese Maier Award from the Humboldt Foundation. She will use it for research at the University of Hamburg on opportunities in multiculturalism.

It may look like a review of CRCs but the feds say it isn’t

The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science assures the CRC community that the programme is not being reviewed, despite consultants asking about “efficiency” (CMM, Monday). In fact, DISS  says what is going on is a due diligence assessment of whether the department is collecting “appropriate data” “to measure programme performance in the future”. Good-o, but DIIS still wants to know, “is the CRC Program overall being administered and delivered efficiently?”