Archive for June, 2009

Virtual Worlds

June 1st, 2009

Postgraduate student and staff member Sue Gregory is working at the cutting edge of Web 2.0 technology. Her work here with Torsten Reiners of the University of Hamburg opens up a new path of research for UNE. As students increasingly engage with alternative social networking (or realities) there is scope for educators to explore whether they pose opportunities for rethinking learning and teaching spaces. They argue that there is a requirement to shift away from mapping traditional thinking about what constitutes a learning experience when considering virtual worlds. This work constitutes a soon to be published book chapter which draws upon two case studies that have provided two distinctly different learning designs for Logistics students and pre‐service teachers. These cases, alongside a comprehensive review of the use of virtual worlds in education draw out issues and factors which need to be considered when pursuing virtual worlds as learning spaces. Specifically, discussion and recommendations have a focus on pedagogical, organisational, equity and access, cultural, economic and social factors relevant to the use of virtual worlds in distance education. Sue Gregory, sue.gregory@une.edu.au,
Torsten Reiners, University of Hamburg, Germany, reiners@econ.uni‐hamburg.de

Centre for Higher Education Management and Policy

June 1st, 2009

The Centre for Higher Education Management and Policy (CHEMP) pursues through a multi‐disciplinary approach studies of national and international significance. The work of the Centre concentrates on analysis of the objectives and detailed specification of particular government and institutional policies; consideration of alternative policy options and their social and economic costs; evaluation of the effects, impact and consequences of the application of particular policies; assessment of the way that policies are developed, specified, authorised, implemented and evaluated; and exploration of appropriate management structures and practices to support higher education objectives. The Centre includes study of aspects of skills formation and training; links between higher education and schools, and vocational education and training and industry; and aspects of science policy relevant to higher education. CHEMP is at the forefront of theoretical and empirical studies of higher education and research policy and aims to advance the application of social, economic and political theory to higher education institutions and systems. For more information contact the Director, Emeritus Professor Grant Harman via gharman@une.edu.au or go to the webpage at: http://www.une.edu.au/chemp/

Going the Distance: Higher Education by Distance

June 1st, 2009

An Observatory on Borderless Higher Education report on distance higher education was published this past February to classify types of distance education delivery from around the world. Over 700 distance education institutions were identified by purpose using data collected by the International Association of Universities (WHED 2007). While the unique characteristics among types of institutions identified has led to define current key concepts related to distance education delivery, the report has helped map and interpret worldwide trends in distance education. This includes viewing distance education as another form of cross-border higher education as well as recognising that distance education has increased the proportion of female authors and material coming from or about developing countries. A second part of the report involved a case study analysis undertaken between 2006-07 to investigate distance education delivery in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States. The results found that there were differences in educational policies at all levels (international, national, institutional) and that infrastructure was overwhelmingly the largest challenge to overcome. Finally, it was determined that while distance education offers new opportunities to utilise new technology to enhance pedagogy, institutions must weigh issues of financial accountability and sustainability in order to develop sound and respectable distance education programmes that will ‘go the distance’. Contact Brian Denman via bdenman@une.edu.au

Indigenous Teacher Education Experience Project

June 1st, 2009

Dr Penelope (Pep) Serow, Lecturer in Mathematics Education, has been immersed in mathematics education for 19 years within primary, secondary, central school and tertiary contexts. Pep currently leads a research team for a DEEWR funded project which focuses on raising the number of Indigenous teachers in our schools. The project, titled the (2009), is multifaceted and incorporates: community partnerships; a Teacher Education Experience Day for Aboriginal Education Assistants/Workers and Indigenous Students in Years 10, 11, and 12; and, a follow‐up long term mentoring program. Analysis of evaluative data and case studies which involve participants as researchers will provide insights into the journey from secondary education to pre‐service teacher education. Pep also led a teaching development project which investigated effective teaching strategies which use technology as a means of meeting the needs of the ‘net generation’ in mathematics education (2007). Recently, Pep led, and completed, a participatory teacher research project which evaluated the effectiveness of uniting developmental frameworks and ICT in the secondary school setting (2006). Pep was a team member of an ASISTM project, led by Associate Professor Rosemary Callingham, which involved the professional development of primary teachers (in Victoria) through the development and evaluation of individualised teaching projects which promote the use of interactive whiteboard technology in the mathematics classroom (2007). Pep Predominantly, Pep’s work has involved the manner in which mathematical understandings evolve, and practices that facilitate student growth in their understandings. Contact Dr Pep Serow on email pserow2@une.edu.au

Sakai Distance Education Program

June 1st, 2009

The Sakai Distance Education (DE) project provided the School of Education with a unique opportunity to redesign two external degrees, the Bachelor of Teaching (Primary) and Master of Education (e-Learning), for innovative online learning and teaching using Sakai, an open‐source Learning Management System. In this project, Rachael Adlington, Lecturer in ICT education, Project Coordinator and 24 unit coordinators worked with Cherry Stewart, our School‐based educational designer, to redesign and reinvigorate units to take advantage of the affordances of the online learning environment. Importantly, the DE project provided opportunities for colleagues to research their own practice and reflect on the best ways to teach and learn in this new environment.
The DE project allowed Cherry and Rachel to collaborate on a number of publications, drawing on proactive evaluation and action research methodologies, as well as case‐based learning. Rachel was most interested in exploring and evaluating the reasons projects such as these are successful or otherwise, and what makes for good student learning experiences in online learning environments. The collaboration worked on a number of publications that explore these ideas, including national and international conference presentations and proceedings, a book chapter and journal articles currently under review, as well as a book chapter on case‐based learning being published this year. Contact Rachel at rachel.adlington@une.edu.au

International Capacity Building Research

June 1st, 2009

This program, based in social justice, attends to the problem of capacity building that makes a difference. There is a considerable amount of literature that identifies the “one shot” model of capacity building as inadequate in the long term. Our alternative is to require those involved in our capacity building efforts to undertake follow up work on return to their workplace and report on the effectiveness of that capacity building through using action research. The research program began over a decade ago in Bhutan (see http://www.une.edu.au/education/community_involvement/bhutan/index.php). The basic model there is replicated similarly in other projects, ie, in‐country commitment followed by workshops related to practice and developing action plans to implement upon return to the workplace. Projects using this model include:

  1. Bhutan multigrade attachment project: In collaboration with a range of colleagues, over a period of eleven years more than 100 remote teachers and officials completed this program resulting in over $500,000 in grants to UNE. The impact of this program is the subject of a recent paper. Currently involved in the project are Associate Professor Tom Maxwell, Dr Linley Cornish, Mr Warren Halloway, Dr Peter Ninnes, Mr Garry Clark, and Mr Tony Bennett of New England Educational Diagnostic Services. The projects were supported by the small school communities around Armidale, Tamworth and Coffs Harbour and the financial support of UNICEF, SAVE and the Royal Government of Bhutan.
  2. Associate Professor Tom Maxwell, Dr Charles Kuvinja and Emeritus Professor Grant Harman. Using action learning to develop leadership in teacher education: This AusAID project under the Australian Leadership Awards (ALA) program ($333K, 2008‐9) brought 19 teacher educators from Bhutan, East Timor, PNG and Vietnam to UNE in 2008 for workshops on leadership and action learning focused upon development in teacher education.
  3. Using Action Learning to develop Leadership in Early Childhood Education: This AusAID ALA project ($290K, 2009‐10), directed by A/Prof Tom Maxwell, managed by Dr Rhonda Forrest and Dr Neil Taylor, is similar to 2 (above). Twelve early childhood educators from the Pacific and PNG will attend workshops, present roundtable papers at a regional symposium and return to their workplace to undertake improvement efforts supported by AR. Selected participants will present conference papers and contribute chapters to a book.
  4. Developing Zambian and Ugandan Teacher Trainers in Multi‐grade Education: The British Council though its Delivering Partnerships in Higher Education program funded $156K over three years (2009‐11). Over 40 academics work on incorporating multigrade education into teacher education using AR annually. A/Prof Tom Maxwell, Dr Charles Kuvinja, Dr Linley Cornish.
  5. Associate Professor Tom Maxwell and Dr Bawa Kuyini—Developing Ghanaian Teacher Trainers in Multi‐grade Education: This project is similar to 4 (above). The application is pending.
  6. Associate Professor Tom Maxwell, Dr Robyn Smith—Bhutan Public Sector Capacity Building: An AusAID project ($129K, 2008‐9), ten Royal Institute of Management academics will develop expertise in distance education using distance education with the UNE Graduate Certificate in Higher Education as the vehicle. Associate Professor Maxwell can be contacted at tmaxwell@une.edu.au

DEHub: Innovation in Distance Learning

June 1st, 2009

The ‘DEHub: Innovation in Distance Learning’ project, funded by DEEWR will provide leadership in developing and implementing models for distance education across the Australian tertiary sector, engaging in national and global collaborations on evidence‐based approaches to new teaching technologies and build capacity across the sector, and promoting innovative modes of teaching and learning that strengthen the capacity of regional universities to meet the demands of their distance education students and to assist rural communities enhance their economic and social sustainability. DEHub has identified a distinctive strategy that will consolidate sector expertise in the use of technologies and enhance and build upon existing leadership in distance education. There is an absence of a dedicated higher education agency to support the sector on best approaches to learning technologies, to reduce duplication and address student attrition in distance education. DEHub will focus on the three key themes as they relate to the Australian higher education sector: Distance Education Research and Evaluation, Distance Education Learning and Teaching, and Distance Education Community. DEHub, as a central agency for distance education best practices, will be the primary ‘first step’ site on the way to updating and improving pedagogical approaches within these areas. The key DEHub operational priorities of ‘ease‐of‐access’, ‘ease‐of‐understanding’, and ‘ease‐of‐implementation’ are aimed at contributing towards DEHub’s
goal of being the principal resource available to people engaged in distance education. For further information on DEHub please contact: the Director, Professor Belinda Tynan via belinda.tynan@une.edu.au or extn 3196 or the Project Manager, Dr Nathan Wise via dehubpm@une.edu.au or extn 2180.