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Monthly Archives: May 2014

It’s been a week…………

I forget that education is not about always about successful student learning and that sometimes it is about the politics. Fortunately these times are rare, but it just so happens that this week, there has been a confluence of politic events that has sharpened my focus.

Just when I was ready to inform some people in very non politic way that I thought maybe they should stick their ideas elsewhere, I saw students present on their experiences in relation to our education approaches. They made me remember the point of it all. They also used no politics at all. They spoke from the heart. They reminded me that education is about the heart as much as it is about the head and that quite frankly, we can play politics all we want, they will go on learning in spite of us.

You know, sometimes, it really is just worth it to stop and remember the point. Thank you to you amazing students!

My brain is breaking. I’m attending meetings, listening to people, doing work and all the time my brain is breaking. Then all of a sudden there is a Budget and well, it breaks again. And all I wanted to do was go to a seminar in a different state.

Higher education is really complicated. It’s full of rules, regulations, competing priorities and ideas, and then of course there are the people. What breaks my brain in the end, is that we are adding complications, not taking them away. The biggest complication we add is confusion. There is no clarity around the purpose or even existence of higher education. Fundamentally, why is it here?

In the Budget last night there was emphasis on the importance of higher education to advance the country of the future. This is something I agree with. Education is the key to the future, after all I plan to spend three years of my life (maybe four) looking into this. And yet, we aren’t sure what that means. Does it mean in the top 20 universities because of research output? Because of graduate numbers? Graduate quality (measured how?)? Fancy technology availability? Happy students? Number of students who find jobs? Number of students who change the world one day in some way? What is it we value?

At the moment it seems to me that we don’t know what we value so we ask academics to be everything to everyone without explaining what we really expect. Today I was lucky though. I work with amazing people and there is a vision. The vision will be developed with input from others so it is a shared vision and then implementation will be a team effort with everyone clear on why they are there and what their role will be, or could be, if they want. For those that don’t want, there are other choices.

I was also unlucky today to learn that academics are also responsible for booking travel. Seriously? On top of being a world expert in their field, teaching, being a technology expert, a compliance expert, a counsellor and an administrator, they now have to be able to manipulate a travel agency booking process??? Not too sure about this…..

Thanks to Brian today I have remembered there is a forest.

My job has got to the point where the ‘to do’ list exceeds my memory banks and I’m reliant on the kindness of Microsoft task list to keep me on track. The list is all worthwhile and productive outcomes, but somewhere it became a list full of trees and not any forest.

Brian today was talking to me about a range of issues but one that came up was academics who are adverse to the use of technology. I restated my position that technology supports the learning outcomes and the teaching philosophy of the academic and that sometimes no technology is required at all. Brian pointed out that some people see ‘technology determination’ driving their teaching. They are having technology imposed on them and this makes them adverse to trying new technologies.

This statement led me back to my forest. He’s right. We aren’t communicating why technology is being imposed. We aren’t explaining how it supports outcomes because we aren’t supporting the implementation. Somewhere I forgot to talk to academics and explore technology in their world. Thanks to Brian I’m going to return to my forest, somehow, by booking time aside in my diary to walk to academics and talk to them. If I lose sight of supporting the uptake of technology and academic engagement, my list full of trees will be useless. Well, it will be worth the paper it’s written on – remember how I record my tasks!

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