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.

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!

Where to go for drinks in Toowoomba

After jam-packed days of listening to world-class keynotes, engaging in innovative sessions and connecting with peers and colleagues, you might think it’s time for a drink. Toowoomba does not disappoint, whatever your tipple.  As always, you can find a Google Map embedded in the name of each establishment.

The Moose
Domestic Lane, Walton Stores

The Moose is the newest player on the Toowoomba drinks scene, but also on the dessert scene. Not only is it a cocktail bar by night, but a chocolate parlour too. As you’re greeted by the large copper moose head above the fireplace, sit back and indulge in chocolate fondue with doughnut bites, or perhaps enjoy the Nutella tap. On the drinks front, try a candy sour that resembles a pink and white strawberry cream lolly with raspberries on top.

Muller Bros
25-27 Bell St

Muller Bros is Toowoomba’s favourite rooftop bar, situated in the city just off Ruthven St. The building dates back to the early 1900s as a hardware store alongside a motorbike workshop and sales department for Royal Enfield. At present day, as a restaurant, café and bar, they have one of the best cocktail menus and wine lists. Try a grapefruit margarita, traditional, yet classic grasshopper (aptly named, Patience my Young Grasshopper) or for something more adventurous, The Fig Honey Collins which has fig liquor, Bombay Gin, lemon juice, lemongrass syrup all mixed with soda. If you’re heading out with a group of your new #ASCILITE17 friends, get a pitcher of spiked ginger beer. All these drinks are of course accompanied by a delectable small plate and platter menu.

153 Margaret St

If pubs are more your scene, look no further than Fitzy’s on Church and it`s adjoining bar Tapestry. There are a range of dining areas and bars, indoors and outdoors. There is a huge selection of drinks ranging from craft beer to cocktails, and food ranging from snacks to multi-course meals so you can sit back and settle in for as long as you want. The espresso martinis are especially delightful. Live music is often playing here too.

Now that you're sorted for food and drink in Toowoomba, look forward to some more conference news over the next week.  The organising committee still have surprises to be revealed.

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.

Dine Around for ASCILITE 2017

Monday night in Toowoomba is usually the quietest night of the week, but that will not be the case this year as this is the chance for all ASCILITE delegates to hit the town and make merry with friends old and new.

We have compiled a list of some of the iconic establishments in the CBD and around the City Golf Club giving you a range of cuisines, prices and timings with an aim of meeting all tastes. Dine Around options will give you the chance to wine and dine with a group of friends/delegates with a common interest (think about the ASCILITE SIGs, or  Mentor/Mentee meetings), for first timers to meet the faces behind your favourite paper, or even put some faces to those Tweets.

On the conference website we have provided details of all the restaurants and will have sign up sheets available at the registration desk. Start thinking now about who you would like to dine with, and where you would like to go. Of course, there is no obligation for you to dine at any of these establishments but we do recommend all of these.

However, we understand if there are some difficult choices ahead, given your options and the fantastic location of the conference dinner.  You might like to visit other places on the list during the week. Other options for casual dining - particularly over the weekend -are the newly-completed café and restaurant precinct of Grand Central Shopping Centre, and the cafes and eateries at Waltons Stores.

We are looking forward to a chance to chat, reminisce, and make new memories with friends old and new.  Start making your plans today because there are less than twenty sleeps until the conference (a thought either exhilarating or terrifying - depending on whether you are on the organising committee, or an attendee).

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!

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.

Check out the final conference program

Guess what!

The final program for ASCILITE 2017 is now live.

Photo by Yasemin K. on Unsplash

We are excited to bring you a diverse program with a range of different session types, from traditional concise and full papers to experimental sessions, lightning talks, and open fishbowls. We're bringing you keynotes from the higher education sector and beyond, to ignite discussion on big ideas and issues that will impact our sector in the very near future. You'll also have the opportunity to check out more than 20 digital posters. The program has been curated to create an engaging experience for delegates. You won't be sitting in a lecture theatre for three days straight! Instead, the program will give you plenty of opportunities to participate.

And there's more in store! Over the next few weeks, we'll announce details of the social events, we'll launch the conference app, and we'll give you all the details about the conference gamification experience.

But you've only got just under a week to take advantage of the early bird registration rate. So don't delay! Check out the program now, then head straight to the registration page to secure your spot at the conference.

Privacy, trust, student data and the university: An exploratory panel

Photo by Sebastien Gabriel on Unsplash

We wanted to make sure the ASCILITE 2017 program hit on some of the key issues for the sector right now.

And that's why we're bringing you what we anticipate will be a thought-provoking, and sometimes challenging, panel discussion on privacy, trust, student data, and the university.

It's also why we decided that this session needs to be available to all in the higher education. This session will be open and free for all to attend online.

Applications such as Facebook, Gmail, Twitter, and iTunes offer users convenience, connection, and content for no perceived upfront cost, but the currency of digital citizenship is privacy. Data collection, use, and resale by global companies reinforces the perception of private information as a commodity, with ethical, legal, and technological consequences largely unexplored.

As higher education institutions increasingly collect and use data, questions arise over student privacy and the impact on a relationship of trust. This is exacerbated by the use of third-party (and often commercial) products in the curriculum; from publisher texts and online resources that require unique student log-in, to test banks that track individual student performance, to the integration of services like Google+ and Facebook into learning and teaching activities. Furthermore, questions arise when companies dealing with student data are purchased by commercial interests and the data is seen as ‘goods and chattels’ in the company sale.

This panel 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.

We've put together a stellar panel to discuss this important topic. We wanted to include multiple perspectives, including student and vendor perspectives. You'll hear from

  • Barney Dalgarno (facilitator), Director of Learning Online at Charles Sturt University
  • Jasmine Thomas, Sessional Academic, School of Law and Justice, University of Southern Queensland
  • Kirsty Kitto, Senior Lecturer, Connected Intelligence Centre, University of Technology Sydney
  • Kate Young, Student, Bachelor of Health (Biomedical Science Major), University of Southern Queensland
  • Allan Christie, Vice President eLearning, Blackboard

Catch this session

Tuesday 5 December, 1.30pm – 3pm
Room H102 Allison Dickson Lecture Theatre and live streamed via Zoom

You can participate in the discussion via Twitter. Tweet your questions during the session with the conference hashtag #ascilite17 and the committee will pose them to the panel.

For those not able to attend the seminar, you can follow along via Twitter using the conference hashtag #ascilite17.

More information, including information about panellists.