Academic extremism risks damaging the standing of Australia’s universities, says education minister Christopher Pyne.
6 January 2014 | Pyne’s comments come in the wake of the controversy over the support for the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement by Sydney University’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies and that a Sydney University senior lecturer was part of a WikiLeaks Party delegation granted an audience with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, where they affirmed “the solidarity” of the Australian people….[ READ MORE ]….
6 January 2014 | Professor Chris Gurney, leader of the ill fated Australasian Antarctic Expedition, has expressed his frustration over what he says “appears to be a misrepresentation of the expedition in some news outlets and on the internet.” The expedition has been accused of being a tourist trip with little scientific value (sort of the Love Boat in colder climes); of being ill-prepared for the conditions; putting rescuers at risk; and making light of a dangerous situation. Others have remarked on what they describe as the irony of climate researchers stuck in unexpected ice.…[READ MORE]….
Submissions to the review of the demand driven system initiated by education minister Christopher Pyne closed on 16 December 2013. University sector submissions support its retention and an extension to sub-bachelor places to create pathways for less academically prepared students. Submissions also propose readjusting fees, including a mechanism to allow full fees (IRU).
TAFE Directors Australia submission to the review of the demand driven system has a number of propositions in support of extending the Commonwealth fee subsidy (Commonwealth supported places) enjoyed by university undergraduate students to higher education students at non-university HE providers such as TAFEs. It also argues for creation of a special provider category of ‘Polytechnic university’ or ‘University college’ , as teaching only institutions, that recognises the increasingly important role of the non-university provider and upholds the status of their qualifications offerings as an alternative equivalent to a traditional university qualification.
“It is not yet adequately understood that a university education is not, and certainly should not be, the perquisite of a privileged few. We must become a more and more educated democracy if we are to raise our spiritual, intellectual, and material living standards… The new charter for the universities, as I believe it to be, should serve to open many doors and to give opportunity and advantage to many students.”
-Sir Robert Menzies, 28 November 1957, quoted in the Swinburne University submission
The Scan in 2013
Most viewed items for the year
In 2013, 816 items, featuring 936 pictures, were posted on The Scan (vs. 852 in 2012). We’re obviously an international publishing phenomenon, with visitors from 153 countries. The continuing ructions in the VET sector featured heavily in 2013 (Once was TAFE , a leading post in 2012, wasn’t too far off the pace in 2013, either), as did regulatory issues in both the VET and higher education sectors. You would have expected in an election year that politics and policy would rate highly: but it was the paucity of new policy, for either VET or higher education, that was notable BEFORE the election, although Christopher Pyne has had a bit to say since. With both a national commission of audit and a formal review of the higher education demand driven system to report in early 2014, next year’s budget (probably delivered on Tuesday 13 May 2014) should be full of interest.
The Scan December 2013
The 10 most viewed items on The Scan in December 2013, in order.
Executive Director, Victorian TAFE Transition Taskforce
4 January 2013 | The Executive Director, TAFE Transition Taskforce, is responsible for providing oversight, support and advice to Government on the transition of TAFE institutes into a new operating environment to maintain a vibrant and competitive TAFE sector. The role is responsible for governance, performance monitoring, and reporting for TAFE institutes, universities and other adult and vocational education entities. The Executive Director is also responsible for strategic engagement across government with central agencies and Ministers as well as the TAFE sector as a whole.
Leesa Wheelahan, formerly of the L H Martin Institute for Tertiary Education Leadership and Management at the University of Melbourne, recently moved to Canada to take up the William G Davis Chair of Community College Leadership at the Ontario Institute for Studies for Education at the University of Toronto. Leesa has been a champion of the public TAFE system and a strong critic of successive governments’ reforms of the TAFE and VET system in Australia, which has left the TAFE system in an emaciated state. In this “exit” interview. Leesa ponders the future of TAFE in the era of “skills reform.”
In Victoria TAFE market share has dropped to 40% and while that’s not the only measure of institutional viability or health, clearly when you have had a massive loss of market share the implications of that for the sector are dire because you lose institutional capacity, resources, funding. The capacity of TAFE institutions has been undermined and attacked. In a couple of the other states the drift is just the same. Poised as you are to leave, looking back, what advice would you give governments? What will happen if TAFE falls over? Is there any way back from where we are at the moment?
The rise of Massive Open Online Courses is presenting higher education with a powerful challenge. Access to great teachers will help millions. But will MOOCs cause a massive institutional shakeout as well, asks John Yemma of The Christian Science Monitor?
Are MOOCs making education a monoculture?
A balance needs to be struck between the franchising of high-quality education and the more intimate, locally grown experience that occurs when teachers and students reason together in a classroom. It seems inevitable that the MOOC monoculture will spread. But let’s make sure we preserve the woodlot. Amazing, unthought-of ideas could be growing in it.
Tech-savvy students are finding ways to cheat that let them ace online courses with minimal effort, in ways that are difficult to detect.
2 January 2013 | “Bob Smith”, a student at a public university in the United States, spent just 25 to 30 minutes each week this past semester on an online science course, the time it took him to take the weekly test. He never read the online materials for the course and never cracked open a textbook. He learned almost nothing. He got an A.
His secret was to cheat, and he’s proud of the method he came up with—though he asked that his real name and college not be used, because he doesn’t want to get caught. It involved four friends and a shared Google Doc, an online word-processing file that all five of them could read and add to at the same time during the test.
In this commentary for the ACPET Journal for Private Education, Brendan Sheehan looks to the higher education policy horizon under the newly elected Coalition government.
It has been clear for some time that general budget pressures, and the ballooning cost of higher education, would bring the gaze of policymakers, post-election, to the efficacy of a demand-driven system — whatever the hue of the government.
The post-election gaze is unlikely to stop at the demand-driven system, and will certainly take in the architecture of the entire system, including the place of non-university higher education provision, which has a small but growing role in provision.
The first School in the Cloud opens
Located inside George Stephenson High School in Killingworth, England, this one-room learning lab is a space where students can embark on their own learning adventures, exploring whatever questions most intrigue them….[ READ MORE ]….
What’s our vision for the future of learning?
For 150 years, formal education has adopted an ‘inside-out’ mindset – schools and colleges have usually been organised around the needs of the educators, not the learners. In areas such as research, this is nothing to be embarrassed about. Ground-breaking inventions and pioneering new thinking often arise from the selfishness that informs so-called ‘blue-sky’ research. Defending such freedoms from the external drive for practical and commercial implementation has often encouraged a necessary insularity….[ READ MORE ]…..
3 January 2013
Data collected and analysed by the Bureau of Meteorology show that 2013 was Australia’s warmest year on record while rainfall was slightly below average nationally. As Nobel laureate Peter Doherty observes, no serious climate scientist seems to be surprised at this – although Maurice Newman, a banker and chief business adviser to the Abbott government, describes climate change policies as being based on “scientific delusion“. On the same day that Newman’s remarks were published (1 January 2014), the University of NSW released details of research, to be published in the prestigious journal Nature, which shows our climate is more sensitive to carbon dioxide than most previous estimates and that global average temperatures will rise at least 4°C by 2100 and potentially more than 8°C by 2200 if carbon dioxide emissions are not reduced.
THE’s most read stories 2013
According to Times Higher Education, its readers have shown particular interest in global stories, including features on the rise of Singaporean universities and on life as an expatriate scholar in Japan, as well as the inaugural THE Global Gender Index, which exposed the inequalities facing women in higher education worldwide. Here, from fifteen to one (excluding stories on the THE World University Rankings), are THE’s most-read stories of the year.
28 December 2013
What people searched for via Google in 2013
Great Books 2013
Being pulled into the world of a gripping novel can trigger actual, measurable changes in the brain that linger for at least five days after reading. Research carried out at Emory University (US) found that reading a good book may cause heightened connectivity in the brain and neurological changes that persist in a similar way to muscle memory.
A selection of “best books” published in 2013 has been compiled by Booktopia for the the online news service The New Daily.
One of the most hailed works of fiction in 2013 has been Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch. Booktopia’s Caroline Baum describes it as a dense, intelligent, complex and dark story about a small jewel of a painting that goes missing from the New York Metropolitan Museum following a bomb attack.
Jonathon Alley of Stack Magazine sums up the past 12 months of “tunes, ascensions and triumphs”.
17 year old New Zealand singer Lorde was the debut artist of the year – this You Tube clip has been viewed 116 million times, so you might have seen it.
Images of 2013
Reuters presents extraordinary images taken by its global network of photographers in 2013 (click “view all images” at the top left to open presentation).
Please note that some of the images are of extreme violence, which are distressing.
30 December 2013
The year in cartoons
So much insightful, funny and cutting commentary comes from Australia’s great cartoonists. Many people miss out. Inspired by Barrie Cassidy’s Insiders Talking Pictures, this Facebook page – Political Cartoons Australia – has a selection of the year’s best cartoons. Our personal favourite by Fairfax’s John Spooner accompanied the post The tide goes out, on the crumbling of the Gillard Government.
Best of life & stuff
Nothing – or is it?
Life & Stuff is our lifestyle section: art, music, musings, celebrations and anniversaries, silliness, wisdom. This is our selection of posts from the past two years.
Smarter cities, cheaper tablets…
..from expanded connectivity, drones and patent wars to cheaper tablets, monster games and smart wearables, and a bubble in “cryptocurrencies”, The Guardian previews likely directions in technology in 2014.
Life & stuff
Cricket’s on the radio
The sounds of summer
One of the sounds of an Australian summer is the cricket on the radio. And the sound is about to change with the imminent retirement of ABC commentator Kerry “Skull” O’Keefe. As Tim Lane describes it, the one-time peroxide-haired leggie, with an action more complicated than the deliveries it produced, grew from relative obscurity to cult figure status in the space of one or two guffaws of snorting laughter. The laugh and his idiosyncratic form of humour annoys some people but for most of us, Skull has given an added colourful dimension to the cricket. One of his more celebrated moments was the Frog Joke but Harsha Bhogle’s Naga Chillies was also a classic radio moment. He’s also an expert commentator on cricket.
If you’ve got an Apple device – iPad, iPhone or iPod – you can improve your mind while you’re relaxing on the beach – cue up ancient Roman history or physics podcasts on La Trobe University’s iTunesU.
Summer School for Gardeners
Open Gardens Australia and the University of Melbourne are conducting the inaugural Summer School for Gardeners – Keeping Gardening Down to Earth at Melbourne’s Burnley campus 22-24 January 2014. The three-day seminar and workshop program will provide opportunities to learn about the latest gardening practices and contemporary horticultural issues from some of Australia’s most respected horticultural, environmental and gardening experts.
Music, Melbourne & Me:
40 years of Mushroom and Melbourne’s Popular Music Culture
A celebration of the last four decades of popular music represented through music, songs, posters, photographs, costumes, memorabilia and iconic rock venues.
Joe Camilleri and Paul Kelly, 1983, Walk On By.
Photo: Mark Ashkanasy.
RMIT Gallery, 344 Swanston Street, Melbourne, from 19 November to 3 March, 2014. Entry is free.
Opening hours are 11am till 5pm (Monday to Friday), 11am to 7 pm (Thursdays), 12 noon to 5 pm (Saturdays). Closed Sundays and public holidays.
Is there something interesting near where you live and/or work? Got an interesting story? Got an event coming up? Tell us about it!