Friday, 24 April 2015

April Newsletter

This Month’s Question:
Last month we asked the question, what is the biggest hurdle preventing you from using more new innovations in the classes you teach, or units you manage? We had 22 responses from the community.

The responses were shared amongst all six available responses ranging from lack of access or training in new technologies to what we termed *less-willing* colleagues. The majority of respondents however said their workload was the biggest barrier, especially the administration demands they feel burdened with.

The responses highlight the importance of the continued activities of the SaMnet community. At the SaMnet leadership development workshops participants are trained in leadership which can be used to motivate less-willing colleagues and gain access to and training in educational innovations. Over the last three years many in the network have participated in action-learning projects where they trialled education innovations and shared results around the country through SaMnet.

Are you someone who finds the workload too great to be trying out new innovations? Skip down to section 6 of this newsletter, Leadership Insights, for a great article on managing competing demands in a university and making time for what will have a long term impact (or just follow the link here).

What advice would you give to the SaMnet community based on these results? Reply to

2.  Conferences & publication
Perth, 30 September – 2 October, 2015
ACSME submissions are now open. This is the main gathering and sharing event on the SaMnet calendar each year. The theme is Transforming practice: Inspiring innovation.
Early bird registrations close August 6th,
Submissions due June 5th.

Melbourne, 1-4 July, 2015
The conference organising committee is almost the same as FYHE in recent years but the scope of the conference has broadened to include all year levels in HE, not just 1st year.  The change in focus provides a broader platform for the dissemination of works associated with student experiences in higher education as a whole. The organisers have also scheduled the conference to closely precede rather than clash with HERDSA this year so that many of our senior T&L folk are able to attend both not just one conference and thereby disseminate, collaborate and mentor the next generation of HE T&L staff.

Monash University, 25-27 November, 2015
Universities are invited to send two person teams to showcase a laboratory experiment for improvement. Due date for EOI for experiments to be evaluated at the workshop: 17 August

3.  Connections/Events  
February SaMnet Leadership Development Workshops

Registrations are now open for the free SaMnet Leadership-Development Workshop
Date: Tuesday 9th, June, 2015
Location: Nathan Campus, Griffith University

4.  SaMnet activity 
Registration for the Brisbane Leadership-Development Workshop is now open for Tuesday 9th, June, 2015. The workshop will:
- enable sharing strategies for spurring adoption of innovative teaching practices,
- offer training in participating in the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL),
- provide insight on leading change in universities, and
- offer advice on career progression and leadership in academic institutions.
The workshop will run approximately from 10am to 3:30pm. Registration and lunch is free for attendees.

5.  Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)
Steve Kolowich, The Chronicle of Higher Education
An article about providing video feedback on student papers, which has been tested by some academics at Monash University. Two messages, (1) They not only tried the approach, but they also wrote a paper about it; (2) they have gained some international notice for it – at least with this article in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Carol E. Holstead, The Chronicle of Higher Education
You may have seen this article doing the rounds, but the data is in – there are some clear positives to pen-and-paper note taking over using technology. Do you get your students to take pen-and-paper notes?

6.  Leadership insights
We are highlighting just the one article this week, based on the responses to the question in last month’s newsletter.

Kerry Ann Rockquemore, President and CEO of the US National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity

“It seems to me that there is a core challenge that faculty members face: certain aspects of our work have built-in, daily accountability while other aspects of our work have no short-term accountability.” Developing your career, and investing in quality teaching have little to no short-term accountability but we would agree that these are no less important than our high-accountability administration tasks.

Kerry Ann gives five steps to realistic balance, but will you make the time to read them?

7. Initiative in focus: National standards for agriculture education launched
The University of Tasmania, with The University of Adelaide (Information provided by Phoebe Bobbi, project officer) 

In a national first, tertiary-level education standards for agriculture have been developed to help universities design and deliver programs that meet agreed standards, attract more students and produce skilled graduates.

The national standards were recently launched by Senator Richard Colbeck, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, in front of 700 delegates at the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) Outlook 2015 conference in Canberra.

Led by the University of Tasmania, in collaboration with The University of Adelaide, University of Western Sydney and Charles Sturt University, the standards were developed through a nationwide consultation with industry, students, and academics as part of the Federal Government funded Agriculture Learning and Teaching Academic Standards project.