Supporting the Schools’ Night

Guest post from Dr Janet Buchan, Director CiTEL, Lourdes Hill College.

The new Centre for Innovation, Teaching Excellence & Leadership (CiTEL) is a major investment by Lourdes Hill College with the vision to provide professional learning programs and a dedicated space for educators to collaborate and learn towards advancing teaching excellence.

After over 14 years in higher education, in 2015 I moved back into the secondary sector to take up my current appointment as Director of CiTEL. My time in schools, TAFE and universities has taught me that the future of learning and the success of Lourdes Hill College’s vision for CiTEL lies in building connections and partnerships with experts in higher education so that teachers can remain at the top of their game and with ready access to the latest research in technology, pedagogy and assessment (amongst other things).

I have been a member of ASCILITE since 2008 and was a member of the ASCILITE Executive for three years with the CMALT portfolio my main interest. As a long time attendee of the ASCILITE conference I am very supportive of the schools’ night as a new initiative and had no trouble convincing Lourdes Hill College’s driving forces behind our own  Learning Futures project (our Principal Ms Robyn Anderson and Deputy Principal Mr Terry Niebling) to get on board with sponsorship by CiTEL.  Our College looks forward to the schools’ night and the opportunity to learn from and make connections with schools in the region. All schools in Queensland face significant challenges with a new Digital Technologies curriculum, the introduction of the new QCE System in 2019, the ongoing rollout of the Australian Curriculum and ongoing budget cuts in many areas. Schools and universities need to work together and it will be through events such as the ASCILITE 2018 Conference Schools Night that essential collaboration and support can be grounded.


Join Smart Sparrow at ASCILITE 2017

A Complete Courseware Platform for Adaptive, Interactive Learning

Guest post from Ashley Coolman, Smart Sparrow

There’s a cheeky joke we’ve heard told about innovation in education: “If Isaac Newton rose from the grave and looked around, he would not recognise the way people work, communicate, or travel; but if he walked into a university he would feel right at home.” It’s exaggerated, but justly highlights that education has been historically slow to change.

Fortunately, we are in the midst of a pivotal time; forward-thinking universities are creating strategies to take advantage of new technology. Exciting advances now enable the previously unimaginable in teaching — you can take students on exploratory field trips across the world, or provide every individual with a personalised learning experience based on their performance. ASCILITE2017 is a perfect space for educators and technologists come together, discuss what technologies and pedagogies show real impact on teaching and learning, and mould the future of education, and Smart Sparrow is excited to join.

Smart Sparrow is an edtech company dedicated to empowering every educator with adaptive and interactive learning technology. Our courseware platform provides user-friendly tools (i.e. no developers necessary) to create learning experiences and analyse their impact — from a single assignment to a fully online course.

Learning innovation with Smart Sparrow looks like this:

  1. Create engaging and personalised lessons with the authoring tool — on your own or with the help of our award-winning Learning Design Studio.
  2. Share what you create to get feedback or encourage other instructors to use what you’ve developed (thus scaling great learning).
  3. Deploy lessons to students directly through the platform or integrate them with your LMS.
  4. Analyse student behaviour and results with the analytics and report dashboards to identify common misconceptions and at-risk learners.
  5. Continuously improve lessons to include the latest information from your field, revamp learning objectives and content, and create a better learning experience every term.

Smart Sparrow began as a research and development group in intelligent tutoring systems and educational data mining at UNSW Sydney. Now, we have over a decade of experience collaborating with universities to improve student outcomes with engaging and personalised learning experiences.

If you’re interested in bringing adaptive, interactive, and personalised learning to your classes, please visit Smart Sparrow at ASCILITE2017 or email to set up a conversation.

Join Blackboard at ASCILITE 2017

ASCILITE 2017 is just around the corner. As the premier gathering of Australian and International researchers, managers and educators, this annual conference is always meaningful for us. But this year, it’s even more special as Blackboard is celebrating our 20th anniversary – that’s two decades of partnering with you, our clients, to help solve your toughest challenges. We are committed to being your partner in change and we are excited to be sponsoring ASCILITE again this year. For those who are headed to Toowoomba, we’ve put together a roundup of the most important Blackboard activities taking place during the conference. Don’t forget to follow us for news and announcements during the event on Twitter at @BlackboardAPAC. And to be a part of the larger ASCILITE conversation, follow #Ascilite2017. We’re excited to see you there!

Don’t-miss sessions

Developing a technology enhanced learning framework to gain a snapshot of institutional successes and challenges

Associate Professor Michael Sankey (Western Sydney University), Dr Caroline Steel (Blackboard), Mark Bailye (Blackboard)
Tuesday 5 December, 11.40am – 12pm
Stream 2 | Room R113

Exploratory panel: Privacy, trust, student data, and the university

Barney Dalgarno (chair), Jasmine Thomas (UNSW), Kate Young, Dr Kirsty Kitto (UTS), Allan Christie (Blackboard)
Tuesday 5 December, 1.30pm – 3pm
Room H102 Allison Dickson Lecture Theatre

Meet the Blackboard team

Stop by the Blackboard Booth (#5) for demos, product insights and giveaways. Take part in our ASCILITE Twitter Competition for a chance to win the latest Apple Watch Series 3.0!

What about dinner?

It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn’t use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like ‘What about lunch?’

A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh.

Over the last few weeks, it has been proven that ASCILITE has a strong community focus as a pattern in the correspondence with the organising committee has emerged:

When is the conference dinner, and what is the theme?

"Coat Check" (CC BY-NC 2.0) by Jeremy Brooks

This has been the conversation in the committee meetings, and certainly the tone of prospective delegates.

ASCILITE has been a supporter of open access, open education, and open publishing, so it makes sense for the organisation to support an open dinner.

Using the theme ‘Remix, Reuse, Repurpose’, you are cordially invited to join us at the ASCILITE Open Dinner.

Assemble your evening attire by purchasing clothing from an op shop or similar, by borrowing it from a friend, or shopping your own wardrobe archive. Your mission – should you wish to accept it – is to locate clothes that could be reused or repurposed for the ASCILITE dinner. Perhaps you'd like to bring out your high school formal attire, a bridesmaid's dress or a suit you wore to an event a couple of decades ago? You might even like to remix some items, combining items to create a new ensemble that will draw looks of (dare I say) open admiration? (See what I did there?)

The theme is drawn from three of the ‘Five Rs’ of openness. When educators use free and openly licenced content, they are able to:

  • Retain – keep a copy of the resource
  • Redistribute – to share it with an audience
  • Remix – to combine it with other openly licenced resources to create new material
  • Revise – to alter or update the resource (often to suit local contexts), and
  • Repurpose – to change the format or context of the resource.

As you prepare for the dinner, you may well ask ‘what of retaining and redistributing?’ We have thought of how to incorporate the final two ‘R’s’ into the dinner – you’ll be given the opportunity to donate parts of your ensemble back to a collection point at ASCILITE after the event so they can be redistributed back to charity stores.

Looking for a bit of outfit inspiration? Committee member Carmel O'Sullivan did a bit of preparatory op shopping and came up with a snappy ensemble!

Practitioners approaching any open activity though need to be supported through ‘mediating artefacts’, that is, resources that support the practitioner to understand the activity and how to locate resources. In this spirit, we’ll be publishing some future posts that will direct you to the best locations for your conference fashion to support you all in assembling outfits fit for an Open Ball.

Do you remember that the post started with community, though? (Or have your thoughts perhaps already been overtaken with notions of second-hand chic?) If you have ideas, places to share, or want to organise a group shopping trip, use the comments section below.

All the important info

Location: Picnic Point
Time: 6.15pm til 11pm
Getting there: Buses will depart the three conference hotels at 6pm
Theme: Open - Remix, Reuse or Repurpose your outfit!

Further details about the dinner are available on the conference dinner page.

Opening up ASCILITE: a call to action

I’m involved in in what I would call a deeply enviable space for learning and teaching.

"How university open debates and discussi" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by opensourceway

Open education, whilst certainly not a new concept, is starting to gain traction across the Australian and New Zealand higher education sectors (to varying degrees), and the attention it receives makes for interesting and exciting times. There are big issues that challenge practitioners such as institutional and national policy, the business case for open education, promoting and rewarding open educational practice, and even finding ways to recognise that many educators are already teaching openly. The possibilities for collaboration – both nationally and internationally – are extremely promising, and the potential impact on Australian students is positive. Reduced costs that lower barriers to education, better access to resources, more flexible pathways for study and recognition of prior learning, and opportunities to be engaged as co-creators of knowledge are all achievable in an open environment.

However, when we discuss openness, the most common foci are textbooks and learning resources. Why? Perhaps it is because replacing the textbook in a course with an open counterpart can be relatively simple. Repositories exist purely for the purpose of disseminating free and open texts. There is a defined cost associated with publisher texts, and it is easy to demonstrate student savings. Learning resources are already created for courses, and most universities have a repository for Learning Objects. Again, it can be an easy discussion.

The harder side of openness is practice, not resources, and as John F. Kennedy said ‘we do these things not because they are easy but because they are hard’. Recent workshops at the University of Southern Queensland led to very interesting debate on the value of resources for learning and teaching for the contemporary university. Are resources why students engage with a university? Do they select a higher education institution for the quality of the resources? Or is it perhaps something else?
The workshop conversation spent a lot of time on the notion that it is interaction and engagement – not resources – that represent the best value proposition for the student. The chance to interact with lecturers and peers, to receive feedback, and to be credentialed; these were perceived as valuable.

It makes me think that conferences are not that much different.

"community" (CC BY 2.0) by mikemcsharry

ASCILITE, like other conferences, is dependent on content for the schedule (and we’re still taking submissions), but is that where the true value of a conference lies? Or, as a previous post stated, is it about the connections, the discussion, the open sharing of ideas? Is it about testing or reporting your idea through a session and then engaging in questioning and discussions? Perhaps the value of the conference lies in the quality of the coffee?

In previous years, ASCILITE has openly licenced the conference proceedings and made them freely available to world. We’ll continue that tradition this year. One opportunity though, is for open streams for the conference, and the opportunity for open practitioners to gather, discuss and disseminate open education initiatives from across the sector. Openness – like learning and teaching – benefits from a community, and I’d like to see more papers and presentations this year about open education in our region.

It may be your chance to test an idea, meet new collaborators, and make that idea just a little bit bigger.

Like I said at the beginning – it’s a deeply enviable space.