In Support of Excellence

It's all about the students

University of Adelaide

If you exercise these capabilities … you will be employed!

Prof Geoff Scott from UWSI was suffering from a bad virus and struggling to stay focused at day two of the University Learning & Teaching Festival in Nov 2012, I was not expecting what happened next. Professor Geoff Scott was introduced as a keynote presenter. He is very interesting to listen to and his presentation was engaging. However it was the last slide and how he described it that became my major “Ah Aha!” of the conference. In the days following I kept returning to this slide’s content and it’s implications. I couldn’t resist contacting Geoff who was happy to talk to me over SKYPE and our dialogue became this episode.

Geoff is Executive Director of Sustainability at UWS and I asked him what is meant by Sustainability in Higher Education …. his answer could lead to more than one more episode. He describes Educational Sustainability as having four pillars that of Social, Cultural, Economic and Environmental which interact with the four functions of a university, research, teaching, engagement and operations.

I wanted Geoff to elaborate on his last slide of his keynote titled
Turnaround Leadership for Sustainability in HE – top 15 capabilities in rank order (n = 188)” They were:

  1. Having energy, passion and enthusiasm for EfS
  2. Being willing to give credit to others
  3. Empathising & working productively with diversity
  4. Being transparent and honest in dealings with others
  5. Thinking laterally and creatively
  6. Being true to one’s values and ethics
  7. Listening to different points of view before coming to a decision
  8. Understanding personal strengths & limitations
  9. Time management skills
  10. Persevering
  11. Learning from errors
  12. Learning from experience
  13. Remaining calm when under pressure
  14. Being able to make effective presentations to different groups
  15. Identifying from a mass of information the core issue/opportunity

These were dentified from an International project being run around the world from effective practitioners. Geoff has been doing this research for 20 years. They started with skill olympians in 1992 then looked at many different disciplines then university leaders. He describes how all disciplines have a similar top 15 capabilities. Geoff’s Slide presentation from the Festival is available here for download.

We talk about what is of the heart and what is of the head. Geoff talks about Emotional intelligence or personal and interpersonal capabilities and how they always rate up in the top 15 sometimes they are 10 of the 15. There are cognitive ones in there but not the ones usually mentioned on university websites as graduate attributes. He talks about outcomes and standards.  Geoff then identifies the most important pedagogical approaches for teachers to adopt to address the development of these capabilities in graduates.

1. Real world problem based learning centred around challenges identified by graduates who have gone before and have identified what is most important. This is based on research of 1.2 million students no less

2. Going on practicum, if at all possible, and have someone as supervisor who knows what the top 15 capabilities are for that discipline and the practicum uses these capabilities as criteria for success.

As he talked I was almost stuck for words …. that’s unusual :-) Here research is showing the most wanted graduate capabilities needed by communities and even countries as vital for sustainability … so what are we doing about it? The question that keeps running around my head is how can a university and even closer to home, how can I as a learning designer map these capabilities back into the courses and design activities and assessments to develop these in the graduates? How can we enrich and strengthen problem based learning and widen the scope and possibilities of the practicum real or virtual?

I believe one of the most strategic pedagogical approaches or tools that will gain in importance in the next 5 to 10 years is that of Scenario based Learning or Simulations. The software for these learning objects has come of age and now it is much easier to develop engaging real life based virtual scenarios using branching to allow the students to learn by mistakes – i.e. when things go wrong. This episode with Geoff has confirmed my intent to go to the USA to up-skill in simulation development using powerful simulation software called Simwriter.

Please listen to the podcast episode and join in the conversation. Ask yourself if you are a teacher: “How can I help my students develop these capabilities?” Would simulations help, what else would work?

Podcast Episode:

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Motivation and Retention Online … “Bonknam Style”!

This short podcast episode is the second with Curt Bonk when he was visiting Adelaide in November 2012.  I asked what was the next contribution to online learning and teaching we could expect from him.  Curt describes the new online resource and book he an a colleague in NZ are about to release. It is about how teachers can improve motivation and retention in online courses.

Curt and Elaine Khoo of the university of Waikato in NZ have developed  the “TEC-VARIETY” model or the 10 principles of motivation. This mnemonic stands for:

  • Tone/Climate: Psych Safety, Comfort, Belonging
  • Encouragement: Feedback, Responsive, Supports
  • Curiosity: Surprise, Intrigue, Unknowns
  • Variety: Novelty, Fun, Fantasy
  • Autonomy: Choice, Flexibility, Opportunities
  • Relevance: Meaningful, Authentic, Interesting
  • Interactive: Collaborative, Team-Based, Community
  • Engagement: Effort, Involvement, Investment
  • Tension: Challenge, Dissonance, Controversy
  • Yielding Products: Goal Driven, Success, Ownership

Each of the principles has a chapter with 10 activities in each.  This will be a very practical tool for teachers to develop their online facilitation in these areas.

This “Bonk Book” is almost finished and it will be available free to people online.  We go on to talk about how a teacher can use this resource.  It is not a book of theory but practical ideas for teachers facilitating technology enhanced learning and teaching to use. Please listen to the podcast and see the potential.

Sample Chapters available for download.

Podcast Episode:

The embedded Youtube video below is a synchronous session in his MOOC described in the previous podcast episode. It is a 1 hour session where Curt describes the TEC-VARIETY model in more depth. It is worth a watch.

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There’s good MOOCs and there’s, well … good teaching makes the difference!

Photo of Allan Carrington and Curt Bonk ... the MOOC shotProf Curt Bonk is in high demand around the world as a keynote speaker and someone who can shake up the status quo and engage academics and encourage them to seek excellence in practice.    During November 2012 he was invited to Adelaide to be a keynote speaker at the annual Festival of Learning and Teaching. Curt took time out to do this podcast episode with Allan about MOOCs  In this episode Curt explains why MOOCs suddenly have got the entire Higher Education Sector talking.  He shares from the lessons he has learnt from his first MOOC in May of 2012, His introduction to “Instructional Ideas & Technology Tools for Online Success is the YouTube Video embedded below.  As only Curt can, he has developed 20 teacher and facilitator guidelines that make a good MOOC and in this episode he expands many of these concepts

Teaching and Facilitating Guidelines

1. Plan and prepare 11. Combine sync and async instruction
2. Market the course especially to friends 12. Arrive early for sync session
3. Offer multiple types of contact info 13. Allocate ample Q&A time during sync session
4. Get help/assistance 14 Share resources
5. Designate feedback providers and tasks 15 Personalize where possible
6. Offer ample feedback from week one 16. Use polling questions
7. Use peer, machine, volunteer and self-assessment 17. Check chat window for comments and questions
8. Gather geographic data 18. Reflect after each session (e.g. Top 3 activities in chat window)
9. Use a warm and friendly tone 19, Offer weekly recaps and updates
10. Form groups and social supports 20 Be willing to change midstream


We go on to discuss how can a passionate teacher who wants to do a MOOC to get started, to not only use the university resources to reach even further with open arms (that’s the idea of the arms in the photos) Curt explains the importance of Open Teaching and the benefits of all involved including the teacher/facilitators.

Please spend time listening to the episode and then there are so many more resources on Curt’s websites “” and his Indiana University homepage “Curt Bonk’s e-learning World“. Bookmark these and browse often for a wealth of ideas and resources. As well here are the slide resources from the talks Curt refers to at the University of NSW and Macquarie University about MOOCs.

Podcast Episode:

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National Citations for Passion … It doesn’t get much better than that!

Linda and Allan photoOn behalf of the Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT) I am pleased to advise that your nomination for a 2012 Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning has been successful” that opening line of an email made my week .. actually it made my last 10 years.  I grabbed the mobile and called a good friend and colleague “Did you get it?” …. pause  “Yeees! did you?”  “Yep!” was the best I could reply in the excitement.  I was talking to Linda Westphalen from the School of Education here at the University of Adelaide.  We had just found out both of us had been successful in winning a National Citation or award, that is the top of the Learning and Teaching heap for the Higher Education space in Australia.  Only 152 of these prestigious citations are granted across 38 universities and Adelaide has been granted two and we did it.  Besides the kudos which is big, it comes with a A$10,000 prize for professional development … that is also nice.

Linda’s citation reads: “For vibrant and compassionate approaches to teaching and learning, which inspire students’ enthusiasm and passion for the profession of teaching.” While my citation reads: “For sustained commitment to inspiring, challenging and mentoring academics to teach with activity-centric pedagogies and the latest learning technologies, to enrich the student experience.”

This podcast episode is the first in a series of conversations together to discuss the teachable moments we both have had while reading each others citation applications.  We have links below to download our application documents and I encourage you to read them, as they are roadmaps on our journeys and full of personal “ah ahas”.  We never saw each others application before submission, yet the overlaps were significant. In the podcast Linda refers to them as bookends of the same thing – I agree.  The title hopefully got your attention, for to achieve best practice a teacher must be passionate about their content and their craft.  However as Linda shares in this podcast  a good teacher must also have a passionate care for their students as well.

We introduce the question “Can passion be taught and can we actually build PD resources and training to teach a teacher to be more passionate about their practice?”  The jury is still out on this, so please chime in with your comments below we would love to have your opinions.

Linda introduces in her application, an intriguing concept called “the chain of care” and talks more about it in the podcast.  She explains how Nel Noddings developed the thinking on this and there are some great resources linked below.  Could she be right? The starting point is easy to understand but the end point she claims is “never”. The chain of care continues after the students move on.  Boy that could have radical implications if implemented? Any thoughts? Another proposal is that university leadership should recognise caring in teachers.

We also begin to unpack this great extract from Linda’s application:  “Piaget and Vygotsky argue that people learn by experiencing knowledge at fundamentally emotional and cognitive levels:  they don’t learn because a lecturer prattles.  Enthusiasm, care and passion are essential for all teachers, whether in a university or in a school, since this makes the student experience (in the lecture theatre and in the cranium) enjoyable and satisfying.  Student experience is considered an imperative in universities these days.  Unless university teachers care, this imperative is nothing more that fluffy rhetoric.  More importantly, this pedagogy ensures that students learn actively and retain knowledge.”  The best student experience at a university must include caring teachers, skilled in best practice methods. get it out of balance and it is fluffy logic … hmm!

There is a great deal of information online about Piaget and Vygotsky, but we had to include this YouTube video as a clear explanation of their theories. Also this video is an example of the way creative use of media can in-fact enrich the teaching … “Piaget and Vygotsky in 90 seconds”  is characteristic of how video is being used by today’s students … mixing up information from different sources  and creating mashed up content some with excellent results.

Linda’s final challenge is on how technology might enrich the teaching experience and gives us the lead in question for the next episode. Please listen to the conversation and we value your input.

Let’s continue the conversation

Podcast Episode:

Online Resources of interest:

The final Youtube video is an example of the learning style of the future.  The author says “I couldn’t find anything on youtube to use in my presentation , so decided to try my hand at making my own”   Here is the mashup result …. it’s good.

Nel Noddings on Caring

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The Best Professional Learning Experience of My Career

Thats quite a claim for someone who has experienced as many learning and teaching conferences as I have and interviewed and learnt from 200+ thought leaders in Higher Education for our podcast programme over the years. When I was selected by Apple for the Apple Distinguished Educator’s Global Institute in Cork Ireland in July 2012 I never anticipated what a mind expanding event the entire experience would be. I was thrilled to be one of the 234 ADEs chosen from the 600 applicants and to have the funds to travel from my university award prize money. More of this experience below,but let’s start at the real beginning of the learning experience

Cork minus Four Weeks: About 1995 one of the first pieces of online education jargon I learned was “click brick and click” The idea of starting a learning experience online with the click of a mouse, then meeting  face-to-face (the brick), then continue back online with more mouse clicks.  It is the concept that influenced the development of blended learning. However I have never really seen it work as effectively as I did with the build up to Cork.  A month before the event we started using BaseCamp an online project management tool and putting into practice Challenge Based Learning.  We had four big ideas presented and all 234 of us entered into online community discussion to identify the essential  questions.  The discussion forums were reflective, mind expanding and very active. By the time we arrived in Ireland we had all chosen one of those big ideas areas we were interested in.  It was in these communities around a Big Idea where we split into small working groups for the week to define our challenges and make our pitch i.e. presentations.

For years when I travel internationally I do what I call a network crawl where I visit people/institutions with which I have contact, to learn from them and teach into them.  This trip to the UK was going to be no different. I contacted some colleagues I have met at some of those conferences, and asked would they like to meet and would they like me to talk about iPads. I never expected the response.  Five universities in three countries asked for seven Padagogy Seminars and extra meetings about LAMS. Wow I thought I had better upgrade the iPad seminars we (Ian Green from Adelaide and I) have presented to over 600 participants in Adelaide and elsewhere in Australia.

The Padagogy WheelSeminar Upgrade: I started with the skeleton of what we did and rebuilt it from the ground up using Keynote as the guiding presentation tool. The seminars by necessity are App centric and because not everyone has an iPad and if they do, nor the same apps the seminars need to be show and tell.  Their main function is to present a selection of apps that can be used for L&T.  I wanted more than this so I looked to the most well know learning model around the Bloom’s Taxonomy.  During the research I found all the great work people have done with Blooms and technology. However I had a interesting new idea of mapping iPad apps to the cognitive domain of the taxonomy and using the Taxonomy Wheel The Padagogy Wheel … it’s a Bloomin’ Better Way  to Teach was born. I also identified the need for a third more hands on workshop I will call PADAGOGY 301 which is under development targeted to a more specific audience.

By Popular Demand: I have learnt from the responses in Padagogy workshops, that academics are very interested in Simon Smith’s e-assessment system of marking assignments. I knew I would get heaps of questions from the floor in Singapore and the UK so I recorded a podcast episode with Simon. Quality Feedback: It’s all about the Students. explains more about this innovative e-assessment  workflow using iPads. I mention this in Padagogy 201 and now there is a resource for people wanting more. Its a total win/win for all stakeholders. The teachers save significant time and can enrich the feedback and the students reap the benefit of more personalised feedback.

Let the Games Begin – First Stop Singapore: The time in Singapore was very productive with four workshops/seminars well attended at the new Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine at the Nanyang Technological University.  It is an exciting new joint medical school by Imperial College London and NTU they are developing a very innovative curriculum using LAMS and iPads. The “Padagogy Wheel” created quite a buzz. I presented each of these seminars twice in two days

PADAGOGY 101 What’s all the fuss about iPads in HE: This is an introduction to the iPad and contains reference to 29 iPad Apps from Document Readers to Project Management and links to 12 Video tutorials

PADAGOGY 201 It’s a Bloomin’ Better Way to Teach: This seminar gives ideas of the latest use of the Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy and how the iPad can serve the pedagogy. It has reference to 62 apps with 18 video based tutorials.

I had a great interview with Paul Gagnon Director of eLearning at Lee Kong Chian. Collaborative Learning … What No Lectures!: is about how they are taking Team Based Learning and adapting the pedagogy to use iPads and LAMS.

The London Bridge ready for the OlympicsNext Stop London and a trip down the River Thames: This was a busy time with visits to four universities, but what a way to start, visiting the place where time starts and stops … Greenwich.  Simon Walker head of the EDU at Greenwich University had invited me to meet and talk LAMS.  When I got there I discovered they were doing some ground breaking work on Graduate Attributes. In the podcast episode Graduate Attributes – Spin or Education Simon talks about the long term initiative the University has to develop their academic skills and framework and push this into a pedagogical framework. How they involve the students and the tools they have developed is worth reflection.

Kingston University M25LTG:  When invited to present at this event while in London, I had no idea what that meant.  We caught the tube and some buses and eventually ended up at Kingston University for the M25 (thats the Motorway) Learning with Technology Users Group. A innovative users group of LT professionals from the University College Londondifferent universities across the wider London area.  Note to self – we need to start this in Adelaide South Australia. It was also great to meet Dr Ian Green my fellow ADE from the University of Adelaide while in London – it was unexpected. He joined me in the rest of the visits and seminars.

Blended PADAGOGY 201 and 101 seminars: were needed at London University and the University College London:     Tim Neumann a colleague and good friend from the London Knowledge Lab had organised a 2 hour iPad Seminar at London and another Australian colleague who works for UCL organised one there.  Both were well attended and Ian and I did our joint presentation as we always do. The response was very positive.

ADE Cork Day 3Transforming global education: (and learning a bit of Irish) reads the tee shirt we received on our arrival in Cork. Thus began an incredible week of professional learning managed by Apple but the real learning happened in the small groups.  The video at the start of this blog entry gives you an insight of what it was like and the visual journey is stunning thanks to the great photos that were taken there and shared by Daniel Woo of the University of NSW.  As the saying goes “It ain’t over ’til it’s over!”  Everyone who attended the event has committed to work to an October deadline to publish content on the ADE iTunesU. There will be significant curriculum published for the developing of teachers as an outcome of Cork.

Finally Scotland and The University of Edinburgh:  This was actually an email type I call “a G’day email” I literally looked up the university website ans found the team running a post graduate elearning course ans said “G’day I’m visiting Edinburgh and Edinburgh from the castlewondered if ….” four or five emails later we had set up a PADAGOGY201 workshop that filled up with registrations in 24 hours from announcement and had a waiting list. They said it was the fastest response they have ever had to an elearning event.

We had a successful  seminar and the next day started the marathon journey home. Edinburgh to London… changed planes.  London to Singapore overnight no sleep …. thank goodness 4 hours sleep in the airport hotel then back on the A380 now that’s a plane and overnight to Sydney still no sleep… then change planes again and home to Adelaide. Over 48 hours travelling… but it was worth it.

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