A snapshot of Day 1

The first day of ASCILITE 2017 is behind us, but we had so much fun we wanted to capture some of the action here on the blog.

We’ve done a quick grab of all the activity on the Twitter hashtag yesterday on Storify (there’s some spam in there but we’ll clean it up today).

Our photographers from USQ’s Media Design and Development team took snaps around the conference yesterday. We’re still processing photos from the end of the day, but we thought we’d share some of the photos the photographers have given us so far.

From the welcome session

We had a moving welcome to country from Uncle Wayne and storytelling from Winangali (including some dancing delegates!).

We also had an official welcome from USQ Vice Chancellor Professor Geraldine Mackenzie, President of ASCILITE Dominique Parrish, and Chair of the Organising Committee Professor Helen Partridge.

From the keynote session

James Arvanitakis had us laughing from his first words (but we learnt some stuff too!).

From the exhibition

Delegates and exhibitors chatting in the exhibition.

From the concurrent sessions

Some snaps of speakers and delegates in the concurrent sessions.

The Organising Committee hard at work

A few snaps of our team on the job yesterday.

We’re looking forward to spending today with you and – importantly – some dinner and dancing tonight.

Monday morning bus buddies

Planning to catch the conference shuttle bus tomorrow morning?

The shuttle bus will pick delegates up at each of the three conference hotels:

  • Toowoomba Central Plaza Apartments
  • The City Golf Club Motel
  • Potter’s Hotel

We wanted to make your first morning as easy as possible, so we'll have a committee member at each of the three hotels to ensure that all delegates can find the bus and that everyone gets onboard.

Carmel, Madelaine and Leonie will be there to greet you. Keep an eye out for them so you know they're in the right place.

Here's what they look like:

We'll brief you on other important bus info across the conference, but you can check the timetable at any time, either online or in the app.

We're looking forward to seeing you tomorrow!


Everything you need to know about Toowoomba in one handy post!

Throughout the year, we've been publishing blog posts about Toowoomba - where to eat, where to stay, what to do here - to help you plan your trip.

As we head into the final weekend before the conference, we thought we'd gather up all those useful posts in one place, so you've got a handy reference throughout the conference.

We've also summarised the information in these posts - particularly about places to eat, drink and get coffee, and how to get around Toowoomba - in the conference app.

What to expect in Toowoomba

Here's some background on what to expect in Toowoomba, from weather to tap water (apparently ours is the best tasting in the country!).

Update: We also wanted to give you a heads up on the weather forecast for next week. Chances of rain are high - currently a 90% chance on Monday. We strongly recommend you bring a fold up umbrella with you to keep you dry as you move around campus.

Getting around Toowoomba

We haven't blogged about getting around but it's pretty important info, so we thought we'd include it here.

To get to and from the conference (including the conference dinner), we recommend catching the conference shuttle bus. Check out the timetable so you can plan your days.

If you're driving, there is plenty of free parking on campus. Just check the signs to make sure you're in the a free car park, and make sure you don't park in assigned bays. There's even free covered parking in the university's new solar panel car park.

Uber operates in Toowoomba, and there's a taxi service too. More info on the travel page.

Where to eat and drink

You might be surprised to know that Toowoomba has quite the culinary scene these days! We've given you a run down of our favourite haunts in the following posts:

What to do in Toowoomba

Looking for something to do before or after the conference? We've got you covered with these blog posts:

Still need more info?

If you have any questions about Toowoomba at any stage, we are more than happy to answer. You can

  • ask us via Twitter - just tag us in your tweet (we're @asciliteconf).
  • talk to us in person at the conference - the Committee will all be wearing rainbow coloured lanyards, and volunteers will be wearing green tshirts. We'll also have members of the Committee on the registration and speaker desks all day.
  • email us but note we're likely to be running around a lot over the three days so responses may be a little delayed. Our email address is ascilite2017@usq.edu.au.

We can't wait to welcome you to USQ and Toowoomba on Monday!

Introducing the Click Game!

Welcome tributes!

Our Head Gamemaker has been busily creating a gamification experience for ASCILITE 2017 that will allow you to earn badges and win prizes throughout the conference.

The game will become available to delegates via the conference app on Monday morning, but we wanted to give you a bit of an idea of what's in store ahead of time.

How it works

The Click Game will run via the conference app.

  • Tap the Click Game icon on the conference app to start playing (you'll see the icon pop up on Monday morning)
  • Complete challenges by uploading photos.
  • Unlock a badge by completing all the challenges within it, or just complete the challenges that interest you.
  • Watch the leaderboard to see how you're performing against the competition.

Watch for unexpected twists and turns as our Head Gamemaker shakes things up!

Don’t be intimated if your competitors streak ahead on the leaderboard. There will be many opportunities to catch them!


Daily victors

The holder of the highest score at 5pm Monday and Tuesday will win a Canon Selphy photo printer (valued at $159). (Note: The daily victor from Monday is not eligible for the Tuesday daily victor prize.)

Overall victor

The overall victor will be the holder of the highest overall score at midday on Wednesday. They will win a Go Pro Hero 5 (valued at $497).

Mystery prizes

Mystery prizes will be awarded across the three days according to secret criteria. These prizes will not be awarded based on points, but based on criteria related to creativity and ingenuity. Even if you’re not planning to compete for the daily or overall prizes, you’ve got a chance at a mystery prize!

May the odds be ever in your favour.

A few things you didn't know about Marita Cheng

To help you get to know our keynotes, we asked them a host of unusual interview questions. Here's what Marita Cheng had to say.

If you had six months with no obligations or financial constraints, what would you do with the time?

I would build robots in China while learning Chinese.  :)

What do you think about when you’re alone in your car?

Solutions to make better robots. 

If you could be any animal in the world, what animal would you be and why?

Panda bears because they're so cute! 

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Doing what I do now on a bigger scale.  Leading teams to create awesome technology, while travelling the world, and selling and telling people about the technology.

What inspires you?

Working with smart people to create beautiful and simple robots. 

What do you work toward in your free time?

Learning more to make cooler robots. 

[Editor's note: Are you seeing a theme here? So much more robot talk coming your way next Tuesday!]

What’s the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your resume or your bio?

I like travelling and wandering around the city or town by myself, or with my friends.

More about Marita

Join us on Tuesday 5 November for Marita's keynote Robotics in the future of work.

There's an app for that!

We've been busily building a conference app to help you plan and manage your conference experience.

Conference delegates should have received an email on Friday afternoon inviting them to download the app.

We strongly encourage all delegates to make use of the app in the lead up to and during the conference.

Why use the app?

We have summarised below no less than 17 reasons why you should use the conference app.

      1. It's the Organising Committee's direct line of communication with you throughout the conference. We'll be posting announcements and updates related to the program and social events. We promise not to inundate you with push notifications! But we will post things you need to know to help you get around the conference. The app is going to be a really important tool for us because this conference is on a university campus, and that means we won't have a PA system to make announcements (although we do have a bell to help us get delegates moving in the right direction!). Notifications will help us to get information to you.
      2. Once the conference gets underway, the app will always have the most up-to-date version of the program. So if any unforeseen circumstances crop up and the program needs to change, the app will be your single point of truth.
      3. You can build your personal schedule for the conference ahead of time so you don't miss any of the sessions you want to get to. You can also set a reminder to prompt you to head to the right location, and you can export your schedule into your default calendar on your device.
      4. While we're talking about the program, we should mention that all the papers and posters are available for viewing in the app. So if you're in a session and you want to know more about the topic, you can quickly and easily access the paper.
      5. My pet hate at conferences is having to trawl the web for presenters' Twitter handles when I want to tweet about a session. We've saved you that hassle - we invited all authors to provide us with their Twitter handle, and we've populated the author profiles with all the handles we have. No more hunting down Twitter handles for speakers!
      6. And you won't need to go hunting for their bios, either. Each author's page includes a bio so you can find out a bit more about the authors. You can also see a list of all the sessions a author is involved in from their speaker page.
      7. To help you find sessions, every session's page includes a geotag icon that you can tap to see the room location on a campus map.
      8. We've created a Toowoomba map that plots all the key locations for the conference: campus; the dine around restaurants; the three conference hotels; and Picnic Point (the venue for the conference dinner).
      9. And to make getting around Toowoomba easier, we've included travel information, including the courtesy bus timetable, in the app.
      10. We've included information about our favourite places to eat and drink in the app to help you find good eats and great coffee.
      11. All the info you need about the all important social events can also be found in the app.
      12. The app allows you to rate sessions and we'll be encouraging delegates to do that, to help us get a sense for how the different session types worked and what sessions people enjoyed the most.
      13. The social feed on the app offers Twitter integration. That means you can post to the social feed in the app and to Twitter simultaneously, with the hashtag pre-populated to make it super easy for you. This is great news, because it means those delegates who don't use Twitter can engage with your content in the app, and without any extra effort, you can contribute to the Twitter feed and help those people playing along at home see what's happening at the conference.
      14. The app pulls hashtagged content into a social wall, that you can access from within the app, which means anything hastagged with #ascilite17 on Instagram and Twitter will be visible to you in the app. We'll also be displaying the social wall around the venue.
      15. Customise your delegate profile to provide other delegates with key information about you. We've made your profile public or private, depending on whether you told us you were happy to have your details included in the app at time of registration. You can change the privacy settings at any time. Add a photo to your profile to help other delegates put a face to your name.
      16. There's also direct messaging in the app, so you can message other delegates, for example, to arrange a meet up.
      17. And last but definitely not least, we have planned an engaging gamification experience that will be run through the app. You'll have the opportunity to win great prizes across the conference.

    The Organising Committee are well versed in how to use the app, so if you have any questions during the conference, please find one of us, or visit the registration desk.

    If you're a delegate and you didn't receive your invite to download the app, please shoot us an email at ascilite2017@usq.edu.au and we'll re-send it.

A few things you didn't know about James Arvanitakis

To help you get to know our keynotes, we asked them a host of unusual interview questions. Here's what James Arvanitakis had to say.

What would your autobiography be called?

James Arvanitakis: Success is the right balance between stupidity and determination

Describe your life using film titles.

  • Fight Club
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
  • A Scanner Darkly
  • Dazed and Confused
  • Lost in translation
  • The men who stare at goats

[Editor's note: We'd like to know more about that last one! And are these in chronological order?!]

If you could steal credit for any great piece of art, song, film, book etc which one would you claim?

Picasso’s Guernica

If you were the CEO of a company, name one thing you would ban in the office?

The words ‘that will never work’.

What would your pet say about you if we asked for a reference?

Such a pushover.

If you had six months with no obligations or financial constraints, what would you do with the time?

Either lay on a beach in a Greek Island and write my next book OR run a first year sociology class with no marking.

What would the name of your debut album be?

Echoes of the musically talentless.

If you were a brand, what would be your motto?

James – simple but (occasionally) effective.

You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?

Pink… used to freak out the other dudes when I wore pink at the boxing gym.

What do you think about when you’re alone in your car?

Who I should call next… I love hands free Bluetooth… and my next book.

If you could be any animal in the world, what animal would you be and why?

Platypus… I mean, is there a cooler animal.

What do you want to be when you grow up?


What inspires you?

Every one person out their fighting for social justice.

What do you work toward in your free time?

My next book.

What’s the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your resume or your bio?

I had to lie to Gough Whitlam once so I did not have to tell him he was wrong about my surname.

I have an awesome comic book collection.

I danced the tango at my wedding.

More James

James is our opening keynote, and you can catch him in just 8 sleeps, on Monday 4 December.

You know you don't want to miss it!

Proceedings now available!

With just under two weeks to go til ASCILITE 2017, we're excited to announce that the conference proceedings are now available.

You can choose what you want to download:

The papers will also be available to delegates via the conference app, which will go live later this week.

Happy reading!

Reflecting on the past and imagining the future of edtech in Australian higher education

One of the most rewarding aspects of going to the ASCILITE conferences is catching up with old friends, learning something new and discussing the ins and outs of higher education and educational technology’s role within that landscape. One of the people I most enjoy catching up with is Professor Barney Dalgarno. Barney has a thorough knowledge of the space and is always ready with an anecdote, news of a new tool, a wise word for all occasions, all punctuated by a joke and a laugh.

I’ve known Barney almost as long as I’ve been an ASCILITE member. These days, Barney is the Director of Learning Online and overseeing a reimagining of CSU'ss T&L focus. He comes to this from being Co-director at u!magine, a think tank for educational innovation. And one thing I am certain of, is that Barney is an innovator.

Barney is always to be found at the bleeding edge of productive edtech adoption. He was right there pushing the boundaries of what was possible using virtual worlds. He crafted a virtual chemistry laboratory about the time I was wearing my NOOB threads in Second Life. An impressive list of category 1 grants attests to the fact that way more people than me think that Barney is one of this country’s leading researchers.

For Barney, it’s not about what’s new and flashy but how that bit of bling can be effectively leveraged for teaching and learning. His research can be broadly grouped under three themes:

  1. the relationship between learning technology and learning theory
  2. learning in polysynchronous learning environments, including 3D virtual environments
  3. university teacher and student attitudes towards and use of learning technologies.

Barney has been a long-time supporter of ASCILITE. He was the lead editor of the Australasian Journal of Educational Technology from 2012 until 2014. His outstanding contribution to both ASCILITE and the sector was recognised by him receiving a 2013 ASCILITE Fellow Award. We all raised a glass to Barney’s achievement in Sydney. Very well deserved.

We are so excited to have Barney with us for ASCILITE2017 in Toowoomba! We’re working him hard! He’ll be the facilitator for our exploratory session, Privacy, trust, student data, and the university happening Tuesday 5 December from 1.30pm.

But I’m also really excited that Barney will be delivering the closing plenary for the conference, reflecting on where we are and imagining what it might be like when we all gather at Deakin University for ASCILITE 2018.

The presentation titled Reflecting on the past and imagining the future looks backwards and forwards, reflecting on how educational technology was and will be leveraged within Australian higher education. Are we heading towards a utopian or a dystopian future? What have we learned, if anything, from the experiments of the past? One thing is for certain: We will be challenged, confounded, informed and entertained. No early flight is worth missing this.

5 reasons you need to attend ASCILITE 2017

With only four weeks to go til ASCILITE 2017 at The University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, we thought it was a good time to share some of the highlights of the conference. Here are five reasons you need to join us in Toowoomba from 4 til 6 December.

1. Three world-class keynotes

We have three diverse keynotes lined up to inspire, energise and challenge delegates.

Professor James Arvanitakis will kick off the conference with a keynote titled From blended learning to analytics: Why we keep getting IT wrong? James is the Dean of the Graduate Research School at Western Sydney University. He is internationally recognised for his innovative teaching style and has been the recipient of numerous teaching awards and fellowships. James will challenge us to think about how we can make best use of technology, rather than being held hostage by it.

Marita Cheng, 2012 Young Australian of the Year, technology entrepreneur, women in technology advocate, and Robogals founder will present a keynote titled Robotics in the future of work. Marita Cheng will take us through the robots of tomorrow and how AI will shape our future in ways greater than we can imagine today.

We'll also be joined by Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society Fellow Amber Case. Amber is the author of Calm Technology, Design for the Next Generation of Devices. Her TED talk, “We are all cyborgs now”, has been viewed over a million times. Our world is made of information that competes for our attention, and Amber's keynote Internet of Things, technology and our future will explore the implications for individuals, learning, higher education, and community engagement.

Learn more about our keynotes.

2. One provocative exploratory panel

Our exploratory panel, Privacy, trust, student data, and the university, seeks to explore emerging ethical, legal, educational, and technological issues surrounding the collection and use of student data by universities, and the impact these strategies have on student trust and privacy. Join Barney Dalgarno, Jasmine Thomas, Kirsty Kitto, Kate Young and Allan Christie to tease out the issues around this important topic. This panel will be live streamed and freely accessible to all in the higher education community. All the details.

3. Don't spectate - participate!

ASCILITE 2017 is not all about listening to papers! Beat the after lunch slump with interactive and engaging sessions, including experimental sessions, a debate, lightning talks, and open fishbowls. Check out the full program.

In addition to our more participatory sessions, we will be bringing you a range of activities to get you involved in the conference. Stay tuned!

4. Three great post-conference workshops

This year, we'll have three post-conference workshops running on Thursday 7 December. These are open to delegates (separate registration required) and non delegates. Here's what's on the agenda:

Workshop 1: Pedagogy GO with location-based mobile learning games
Facilitator: Roger Edmonds
Time: 10am – 1pm
Fee: $100 (includes light lunch)

Workshop 2: Transforming exams – hands on with the technology
Facilitators: Mathew Hillier, Andrew Fluck, Martin Coleman
Time: 10am – 1.30pm
Fee: Free – sponsored by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training funded project Transforming Exams (Grant ID 15-4747). Includes light lunch.

Workshop 3: Mobile virtual reality
Facilitators: Thomas Cochrane, David Sinfield
Time: 10am – 4pm
Fee: $150 (includes light lunch)

All the details about the post-conference workshops.

5. Opportunities to connect

We've put together a diverse social program to give you plenty of opportunities to connect with your colleagues and experience the best Toowoomba has to offer. The highlight of the social program will be the conference dinner. With a theme of Open, you're invited to RemixReuse or Repurpose your outfit. Join us at Picnic Point for great food, good company, and spectacular views of the Lockyer Valley. We'll be releasing details about the welcome reception, dine around and closing reception soon.

Social program information.

What are you waiting for?

Register now and join us in Toowoomba, 4-6 December!