Headline of the week

Yes, it is Monday but this will take some beating

Uni SA announces “probing researchers strike gold to stop the trots in pigs.” Apparently researchers are using gold nanorod instruments to detect a swine virus – although CMM is puzzled as to why this involves supporters of the Fourth International.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Full-time IT CEO and part-time academic Michael Baron likes teaching but he laments universities don’t make more senior professionals welcome,  HERE.

plus Kurt Cheng on UTS’ student partnership agreement. New in Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s series Needed now in learning and teaching

with Jack Breen, (UNSW) who warns there are too many social-media platforms, sub-platforms and content formats in HE for anybody to keep up with – but all is not lost.

Legislation against cyber cheating just got harder to enforce

ChatGPT’s creator makes a point of protecting against academic dishonesty. It’s not a big deal but for now it might have to do

The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency has legislative power to “to protect and enhance the academic integrity of courses provided by higher education providers by prohibiting academic cheating services.”

ChatGPT is not intended for cheats but it is a fair bet that it will be used within weeks to produce essays. And what happens if (well, when, actually) academic cheating businesses work out ways to anonymise their using it for ill intent?

Probably plenty that regulators can’t do much to stop.

TEQSA’s act of parliament allows it to force ISPs to block domain names of contract cheating providers and search engines not to identify same.

But ChatGPT and imminent imitators will be ubiquitous in commerce and society, by about Thursday fortnight. US CBS News reports ChatGPT had 57m active users in its first month.

Demand from students inclined to cheat seems unavoidable but legislation to bar ChatGPT from  university addresses, when it is available to everybody else, would take some drafting.


Working with the AI the world has now got

CMM ed tech correspondent Colin Simpson  has an early recommendation for the week

It’s a webinar on ChatGPT, from the Global Research Alliance for AI in Learning and Education. It’s 9-10 am AEDT tomorrow. Access is HERE.

Featured speakers include, Aneesha Bakharia (Uni Queensland), Dragan Gasevic (Monash U), Hassan Khosarvi (Uni Queensland) and Shazia Sadiq (Uni Queensland)

GRAILE’s brief is to, “directly influence policy and senior leadership in areas where AI intersects with learning in K-12, corporate, and higher education settings,”

Charter members include, Monash U, Uni Queensland and Uni SA.

Research accelerator speeds up

Funding apps open this morning for uni projects from proof of concept to prototype

The 12 months max seed grants are for early-stage university applied research in government priority areas, renewable and low-emission technology, medical science, resources and agriculture, and forestry and fisheries. A second tranche of the seed grant scheme opens in March.

The “fast-fail” grants are the first stage of the $1.6bn Australia’s Economic Accelerator, the research translation programme created by the previous and continued by the present government.

“AEA is designed to build a pipeline from discovery research through to commercialisation, ensuring Australia reaps the benefits of investment in research within the university sector,” the seed grant guidelines state.

Universities’ big chance to be economic policy centre-stage

And the tech uni lobby knows its

The National Reconstruction Fund will not provide grants – but that should allow a core role for universities. The Australian Technology Network  argues the aim of the $15bn investment agency should “further …. economic and social progress” by developing, “research, industrial and skills capacity in partnership with universities.”

To accomplish this it needs to be part of an ecosystem of research funding agencies and programmes. “Universities are key linkers, transformers and translators across the research and development pipeline – we can play a valuable facilitative and generative role in this ecosystem.”

Quite a few agencies. The ATN points to, the Australian Research Council, the National Health and Medical Research Council, the Medical Research Future Fund, Cooperative Research Centres and funding from the Australia’s Economic Accelerator.  It could have also included the Rural Research and Development Corporations, the Defence Science and Technology Group, and even that oft impenetrable fortress of funding, CSIRO

That’s a lot of applied research underway – which leaves basic research in science and HASS rather on the outer for community support and attention.

Certainly the ATN acknowledges, “it is also important that to continue our supply of ideas and expertise to industry and communities a broad range of research is needed, including discovery research and research in the humanities, arts and social sciences which is vital for understanding our world and the people in it.” Good-o but that rather reads as a politely expressed irrelevance to the main game – what it being the last par to the reconstruction fund submission.

The AI opportunity to transform foreign language learning

Culture should be the core content of for foreign language teaching, but “unfortunately linguistic competence has instead always been the primary focus”

Yong Zhao (Melbourne Graduate School of Education) makes the case in a new paper for Uni Melbourne’s AsiaLink. The problem is, even after ten years study, “very few students can truly achieve native or near native speaker proficiency,” the reasons why are not enough hours learning, few opportunities for immersion and a focus on passing tests.

So, why bother continuing with courses, given machine translation is now better at translation than most human foreign language learners?

Because, foreign language courses for the majority of students should be about, “global competences” the “knowledge, skills, attitudes and values,” – about “human interdependence and interconnectedness.” Foreign language courses are the place to include competences because curriculars are already crowded with “too many required courses.”

Appointments, achievements

The (US) Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture announces its journal article award goes to, Janet McCaw, (Uni Melbourne), Alisdair Vance (Uni Melbourne) and Uncle Herb Patten (Gunai-Kurnai, Wiradjuri, and Yorta Yorta Elder, member of the governing board of Elders/Senior People for the Elder-Governed Indigenous Cultural Practices Project within the NHMRC Million Minds research programme grant). It is for, “A ‘Holding Place’: An Indigenous Typology to Mediate Hospital Care,” Journal of Architectural Education 76, I 2022, 75-84

The Australian Research Council announces 94 new members of the College of Experts, HERE. They have three-year terms. The college advises on research and recommends applications for competitive grants.

Tony Cook will become secretary of the Commonwealth Department of Education in April. He steps up there, from dep sec for HE, research and international.

Callum Cowell leaves UWA’s Centre for English Language Teaching, for Uni Birmingham, to becomes director of its pathways and professional English provider.

Eda Gunaydin (Uni Wollongong) wins the Victorian Premier’s literary award for non-fiction.

Thomas Schneider (University of British Columbia) is the new chief executive of the Association of Pacific Rim Universities, which has seven Aus members – all of the Group of Eight, excluding UWA, presumably because it fronts a wrong ocean.