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AndersB

Government cutting research funding by $499m over four years

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I am not feeling anything. Tertiary education is a racket. Cutting funding conflicts with the government's higher education target. More hypocrisy is revealed and more people will wake up to the loss of morals and ethics within society.

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Tertiary education is a racket. Cutting funding conflicts with the government's higher education target. More hypocrisy is revealed and more people will wake up to the loss of morals and ethics within society.

I agree Syd3,

The only reason students pay outlandish subject and unit costs, is because of HECS and guaranteed government money which enabled universities to simply raise their prices.

The second question for me though is; Why all this push into schools before the election?

Could it be that the Labor Party is targetting Gen X and Y for a support, given that they've lost their heartland.

Nothing wins over the heart of a parent better than support for their children.

Do Julia and Wayne think they have to be seen to implement Gonski, as though that will give integrity to their promises or something?

And yet, these arguments don't weigh up, because it is Gen X and Y who are currently engaged in tertiary institutions, and who will stand to suffer most from the loss of funding and supplements.

Something just doesn't add up for me.

Weird.

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..The only reason students pay outlandish subject and unit costs, is because of HECS and guaranteed government money which enabled universities to simply raise their prices...

Same thing has occurred in medicine/pharmaceuticals, real estate (FHOG). The moment a government provides a subsidy/grant, the market ratchets up the price accordingly.

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I agree Syd3,

The only reason students pay outlandish subject and unit costs, is because of HECS and guaranteed government money which enabled universities to simply raise their prices.

The second question for me though is; Why all this push into schools before the election?

Could it be that the Labor Party is targetting Gen X and Y for a support, given that they've lost their heartland.

Nothing wins over the heart of a parent better than support for their children.

Do Julia and Wayne think they have to be seen to implement Gonski, as though that will give integrity to their promises or something?

And yet, these arguments don't weigh up, because it is Gen X and Y who are currently engaged in tertiary institutions, and who will stand to suffer most from the loss of funding and supplements.

Something just doesn't add up for me.

Weird.

Well, you might recall that universities don't get to set their own tuition fees (though this will change soon as regulation of commonwealth supported places and regulation of fees changes) so universities haven't been raising prices, the gov't has been raising the prices for universities. a good part of my weekend was spent reading over these kinds of regulations (for an unrelated matter).

Having studied and taught in the US, Japan and Australia I am amazed at how underfunded the university system is here. This has a decidedly negative effect as universities latch onto the few means that they have at their disposal to raise funds--international students & postgrads. everyone and their uncle can get a phd now. not because people are suddenly smarter or better at research but because it is a net plus for the uni so they pack em in. same with international students. if the chinese students stopped coming the university system would collapse--they are subsidising the domestic students to an extraordinary degree.

julia is cutting universities because it is politically safe. middle australia is not going to rise up in protest over eggheads in ivory towers, especially not when it means that junior will have another brand new library at his primary school.

obviously i'm biased, but 2%, while not the end of the world, will bite as there is very little fat (at least in my area, and we actually run at a surplus). i have no doubt that VC's across the country are rubbing their hands in delight as they are handed an excuse to push through cuts to economically unprofitable programs. They will use a temporary funding reduction to justify permanent cuts. it's yet another counterproductive measure that does not seem to reflect any kind of holistic or long term planning.

seems typical of a gov't that is incapable of anything more than spasmodic policy shifts.

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Well, you might recall that universities don't get to set their own tuition fees (though this will change soon as regulation of commonwealth supported places and regulation of fees changes) so universities haven't been raising prices, the gov't has been raising the prices for universities. a good part of my weekend was spent reading over these kinds of regulations (for an unrelated matter).

Having studied and taught in the US, Japan and Australia I am amazed at how underfunded the university system is here. This has a decidedly negative effect as universities latch onto the few means that they have at their disposal to raise funds--international students & postgrads. everyone and their uncle can get a phd now. not because people are suddenly smarter or better at research but because it is a net plus for the uni so they pack em in. same with international students. if the chinese students stopped coming the university system would collapse--they are subsidising the domestic students to an extraordinary degree.

julia is cutting universities because it is politically safe. middle australia is not going to rise up in protest over eggheads in ivory towers, especially not when it means that junior will have another brand new library at his primary school.

obviously i'm biased, but 2%, while not the end of the world, will bite as there is very little fat (at least in my area, and we actually run at a surplus). i have no doubt that VC's across the country are rubbing their hands in delight as they are handed an excuse to push through cuts to economically unprofitable programs. They will use a temporary funding reduction to justify permanent cuts. it's yet another counterproductive measure that does not seem to reflect any kind of holistic or long term planning.

seems typical of a gov't that is incapable of anything more than spasmodic policy shifts.

Thanks Urchin for a rational and reasonable assessment of the matter.

Consider me suitably chastised for suggesting that Universities were responsible, when as you explain, the government actually were probably more to blame.

If what you suggest happens, there could be a few academics looking for work.

Someone always loses, when governments start mucking about with their budgets.

Thanks for posting.

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Thanks Urchin for a rational and reasonable assessment of the matter.

Consider me suitably chastised for suggesting that Universities were responsible, when as you explain, the government actually were probably more to blame.

If what you suggest happens, there could be a few academics looking for work.

Someone always loses, when governments start mucking about with their budgets.

Thanks for posting.

Very welcome. I thought I was ranting and here you are calling me reasonable :P

Unfortunately, as usually happens in these kinds of situations, if academics find themselves out of work, it probably won't be the ones who really ought to go. The ones who are un-hirable elsewhere will stay to the bitter end and the truly capable people will depart for greener pastures as the university system is not capable of providing them with the kind support they can get elsewhere. For a country where tertiary constitutes a major segment of the economy (third largest "export" industry), I find it incredible that they would make a point of weakening the institutions, and their reputation as study destinations domestically and abroad, even further.

It is also worth noting that Australian unis rank 23 out of 29 OECD nations in terms of gov't funding, so we haven't exactly been bathing in milk and honey. Unis get 0.8% GDP in public spending (1.1% is the avg for OECD). (citation link here) These cuts come on top of $500 million of cuts to research over 4 years announced late last year.

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ha, abbott is saying that he won't give the extra money to the schools but he would keep the cuts to unis...

it would be interesting to hear the logic behind that....

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I reckon the universities are about to experience a big budget cut independently of the government. The internet is finally becoming disruptive for the tertiary education sector, much as it has already been for newspapers over the last decade.

My link

Georgia on MOOC minds: Georgia Institute of Technology has announced a MOOC masters in computer science “with enhanced support services for students”. Initial cost is under $US7,000, “a fraction of the cost of traditional on-campus masters”, Ga Tech says. The program is a joint venture with MOOC provider Udacity. A pilot program will enrol a “few hundred students", which is expected to expand “gradually”. This is global competition on price and quality. Think MOOCs are going to flair and fail? Think again.

I don't imagine the pollies are clever enough to realise it, but soon costs to the government of educating students will drop dramatically as many online courses from reputible universities replace the bricks and mortar universities in Australia. Why do a $30,000 a year degree from the University of Wolloomolllonoon, when you can get one from Stanford for $7000?

What then is the role of Australian Universities? First they need a far more flexible workforce then is currently allowed by their unions.

Then they need to rethink how they offer education. What can they do that is unique or better? What can they offer that requires physical space and human-human contact?

A sensible/clever government (this is hypothetical) might try to drop the barriers to new tertiary education institutions entering the field.

Unexpectantly I believe this new world might increase the importance of research, and the associated prestige and public good that it brings to an institute, in attracting students. For example, "come to our institute and rub shoulders with our Nobel lauretes". This argues for a shift in government funding from education to research.

Universities need to quickly adapt to falling funding. I wish there were some signs that the government or the university leaders were aware and responding. Instead it seems well off the radar. Denial is the new black.

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ha, abbott is saying that he won't give the extra money to the schools but he would keep the cuts to unis...

it would be interesting to hear the logic behind that....

The logic is simple - reduction of the deficit, by reducing government expenditure.

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I reckon the universities are about to experience a big budget cut independently of the government. The internet is finally becoming disruptive for the tertiary education sector, much as it has already been for newspapers over the last decade.

My link

I don't imagine the pollies are clever enough to realise it, but soon costs to the government of educating students will drop dramatically as many online courses from reputible universities replace the bricks and mortar universities in Australia. Why do a $30,000 a year degree from the University of Wolloomolllonoon, when you can get one from Stanford for $7000?

What then is the role of Australian Universities? First they need a far more flexible workforce then is currently allowed by their unions.

Then they need to rethink how they offer education. What can they do that is unique or better? What can they offer that requires physical space and human-human contact?

A sensible/clever government (this is hypothetical) might try to drop the barriers to new tertiary education institutions entering the field.

Unexpectantly I believe this new world might increase the importance of research, and the associated prestige and public good that it brings to an institute, in attracting students. For example, "come to our institute and rub shoulders with our Nobel lauretes". This argues for a shift in government funding from education to research.

Universities need to quickly adapt to falling funding. I wish there were some signs that the government or the university leaders were aware and responding. Instead it seems well off the radar. Denial is the new black.

The local bricks & mortar institutions will have to replace on-site lectures and tutorial with distance education. I'm working on projects in that area, including web conferencing.

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The local bricks & mortar institutions will have to replace on-site lectures and tutorial with distance education. I'm working on projects in that area, including web conferencing.

I work with someone doing the same. I don't think it is enough. If a student is doing a course online then they may as well do the best online course. In all probability this is unlikely to be at their local uni.

The new online business model initially will use quantity to our compete the traditional universities on price. Australian universities need to do more than just reproduce existing courses online.

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I reckon the universities are about to experience a big budget cut independently of the government. The internet is finally becoming disruptive for the tertiary education sector, much as it has already been for newspapers over the last decade.

My link

I don't imagine the pollies are clever enough to realise it, but soon costs to the government of educating students will drop dramatically as many online courses from reputible universities replace the bricks and mortar universities in Australia. Why do a $30,000 a year degree from the University of Wolloomolllonoon, when you can get one from Stanford for $7000?

What then is the role of Australian Universities? First they need a far more flexible workforce then is currently allowed by their unions.

Then they need to rethink how they offer education. What can they do that is unique or better? What can they offer that requires physical space and human-human contact?

A sensible/clever government (this is hypothetical) might try to drop the barriers to new tertiary education institutions entering the field.

Unexpectantly I believe this new world might increase the importance of research, and the associated prestige and public good that it brings to an institute, in attracting students. For example, "come to our institute and rub shoulders with our Nobel lauretes". This argues for a shift in government funding from education to research.

Universities need to quickly adapt to falling funding. I wish there were some signs that the government or the university leaders were aware and responding. Instead it seems well off the radar. Denial is the new black.

I think you're correct specifically going to the point that research will become the selling point for online courses. The point of difference will be the specialities that are offered by different universities. Universities will no longer be able to offer generalist degrees covering all subject areas. Specialisation will become the norm. If I want a degree in the classics why wouldn't I subscribe to Oxford rather than RMIT?

If I can get access to the most brilliant teaching minds interactively and the most stimulating educationalists then why would I enrol in a boring non-educationists course. I have had so many lectures from bad teachers whose primary interest wasn't educating others but research. They were probably far better at research than teaching.

It's funny but I've always found that the best teachers were enthusiastic about the subjects that they were best qualified in. Enthusiasm is infectious. It's going to require a change in the philosophy of teaching but I'm not sure it will be all bad. The lack of socialisation that traditional universities provide and online course don't might be remedied by faster internet and viable video conferencing. Another reason to be pro fibre to the home.

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It's funny but I've always found that the best teachers were enthusiastic about the subjects that they were best qualified in. Enthusiasm is infectious. It's going to require a change in the philosophy of teaching but I'm not sure it will be all bad. The lack of socialisation that traditional universities provide and online course don't might be remedied by faster internet and viable video conferencing. Another reason to be pro fibre to the home.

Funny I think one thing bricks and mortar may provide in the future is pastoral care and the broadening plus social stuff. Not at the postgraduate and so-calledmature age students, but for the freshly minted undergraduates. They often need help learning the skills to help themselves.

In any case universities are really about finding a future mate. Online can only get you so far before you need to take matters into your own hands (*ahem*).

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Funny I think one thing bricks and mortar may provide in the future is pastoral care and the broadening plus social stuff. Not at the postgraduate and so-calledmature age students, but for the freshly minted undergraduates. They often need help learning the skills to help themselves.

In any case universities are really about finding a future mate. Online can only get you so far before you need to take matters into your own hands (*ahem*).

hehe. I moved states to seek out a more compatible cohort to interact with on a physical basis. So I agree that the social aspect of university is important. Getting drunk and breaking into Go-betweens concerts in the refectory were formative. Online learning is by no means a panacea. The drop out rates will be higher than physical bricks and mortar I imagine. I changed my peer group from my bogan hotted up car friends to new leftist politically aware group in quick time. This was a good thing for me at least as most of the previous peers entered the correctional system. How about if the online learning is not done to the home but to a centralised location (lecture theatre) so that one gets to interact as per the traditional model?

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hehe. I moved states to seek out a more compatible cohort to interact with on a physical basis. So I agree that the social aspect of university is important. Getting drunk and breaking into Go-betweens concerts in the refectory were formative. Online learning is by no means a panacea. The drop out rates will be higher than physical bricks and mortar I imagine. I changed my peer group from my bogan hotted up car friends to new leftist politically aware group in quick time. This was a good thing for me at least as most of the previous peers entered the correctional system. How about if the online learning is not done to the home but to a centralised location (lecture theatre) so that one gets to interact as per the traditional model?

Agree on that last bit (and the first too). I see the future brick&grit lecturers is to become facilitators, using the excellent online course material prepared by others as a spring board for class discussion, case studies etc.

I met my widyllic during extra curricular university subsidized activities. I often think about that when faced with a room fall of hormone fuelled near teened students. I am just a distraction (perhaps) from the main game.

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Agree on that last bit (and the first too). I see the future brick&grit lecturers is to become facilitators, using the excellent online course material prepared by others as a spring board for class discussion, case studies etc.

I met my widyllic during extra curricular university subsidized activities. I often think about that when faced with a room fall of hormone fuelled near teened students. I am just a distraction (perhaps) from the main game.

It is an interesting point that one of the main purposes of university is to pair with a partner of ones own class. Thus the hegemony is maintained. Order is preserved. :)

What if the new order allowed for researchers to spend more time in actual research and translators to impart the fundamentals and the state of play to the noviciates? Would this be better? When I did my undergrad first year it was firmly put to me that I should look to my left and my right and realise that both those people would most likely not be there by second year. It was true. It doesn't mean that there is no career for the academic teacher. Quite the contrary. I don't invent new stuff in what I do currently but I can and do impart an enormous amount of information to the newbs. It is still satisfying in spite of the fact I stand on the shoulders of giants.

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It is an interesting point that one of the main purposes of university is to pair with a partner of ones own class. Thus the hegemony is maintained. Order is preserved. :)/>/>/>

What if the new order allowed for researchers to spend more time in actual research and translators to impart the fundamentals and the state of play to the noviciates? Would this be better? When I did my undergrad first year it was firmly put to me that I should look to my left and my right and realise that both those people would most likely not be there by second year. It was true. It doesn't mean that there is no career for the academic teacher. Quite the contrary. I don't invent new stuff in what I do currently but I can and do impart an enormous amount of information to the newbs. It is still satisfying in spite of the fact I stand on the shoulders of giants.

There is a strong resistance to seperating the teaching from the research. Everyone is expected to be good at everything. I think it does a disservice to strong researchers and strong teachers. It ignores that teaching has its own profession, research and expertise. It also ignores the benefits of specialisation Henry Ford etc. Typically the resistance is along the lines that students want exposure to the best researchers and that a separation of knowledge between cutting edge and undergraduate courses shouldn't be allowed to occur. I think the real fear is that because university promotion is so strongly linked to research track record, not teaching, a system of second class academics might arise. Unions don't like that. Most academics don't pay their way in attracting non teaching income. This might seem contradictory but I think the poor researcher above the level of senior lecturer is probably over paid unless they can show why they shouldn't be replaced with a trained educator with a postgraduate degree in the area of the course.

Edited by Ugg

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It is an interesting point that one of the main purposes of university is to pair with a partner of ones own class. Thus the hegemony is maintained. Order is preserved. :)/>/>

What if the new order allowed for researchers to spend more time in actual research and translators to impart the fundamentals and the state of play to the noviciates? Would this be better? When I did my undergrad first year it was firmly put to me that I should look to my left and my right and realise that both those people would most likely not be there by second year. It was true. It doesn't mean that there is no career for the academic teacher. Quite the contrary. I don't invent new stuff in what I do currently but I can and do impart an enormous amount of information to the newbs. It is still satisfying in spite of the fact I stand on the shoulders of giants.

There is a strong resistance to seperating the teaching from the research. Everyone is expected to be good at everything. I think it does a disservice to strong researchers and strong teachers. It ignores that teaching has its own profession, research and expertise. It also ignores the benefits of specialisation Henry Ford etc. Typically the resistance is along the lines that students want exposure to the best researchers and that a separation of knowledge between cutting edge and undergraduate courses shouldn't be allowed to occur. I think the real fear is that because university promotion is so strongly linked to research track record, not teaching, a system of second class academics might arise. Unions don't like that. Most academics don't pay their way in attracting non teaching income. This might seem contradictory but I think the poor researcher above the level of senior lecturer is probably over paid unless they can show why they shouldn't be replaced with a trained educator with a postgraduate degree in the area of the course.

Edited by Ugg

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There is a strong resistance to seperating the teaching from the research. Everyone is expected to be good at everything. I think it does a disservice to strong researchers and strong teachers. It ignores that teaching has its own profession, research and expertise. It also ignores the benefits of specialisation Henry Ford etc. Typically the resistance is along the lines that students want exposure to the best researchers and that a separation of knowledge between cutting edge and undergraduate courses shouldn't be allowed to occur. I think the real fear is that because university promotion is so strongly linked to research track record, not teaching, a system of second class academics might arise. Unions don't like that. Most academics don't pay their way in attracting non teaching income. This might seem contradictory but I think the poor researcher above the level of senior lecturer is probably over paid unless they can show why they shouldn't be replaced with a trained educator with a postgraduate degree in the area of the course.

Last post before beddy byes.

No one can be be good at everything. Teaching is undervalued. A good teacher should be paid almost as much as the person that discovers the <thing> as the <thing> needs to be adequately communicated to be useful to future researchers. To understand how to teach complex concepts the teacher needs to be as skilled as the researcher. f*ck the unions! That from a committed unionist.

Undergrads don't deserve access to "the best researchers" until they enter post grad if they qualify. Same speech as the look left and right speech also mentioned that you were considered sub human until the degree was earned. I don't see that teaching universities are less able to discover talent as effectively as the current system. If we are to have mass online courses then teaching universities will have access to a larger pool of talent than is currently available. Their success should be gauged on this alone. They will serve as filters.

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Interesting article

The Teaching and Learning Foundations of MOOCs - the conversation

The most obvious characteristic of MOOCs is that they are delivered online. Reviewing the research, there is little evidence that online learning is any worse than face-to-face modes of teaching and there is plenty of evidence to suggest that it may in fact be better for some of the reasons that we are about to cover. Of course, this is not the general perception amongst US faculty staff at least. In a recent survey, 66% of faculty staff believed that online outcomes where inferior to traditional modes of teaching. The underlying subtext of why people believe that online teaching is less effective has not been extensively examined but certainly one would assume that it is related to a fear of technology generally which includes a fear of being replaced by that technology.

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it would depend on the class environment, i imagine. it is extremely difficult to replicate a seminar-style course online. however if we are comparing traditional lecture type formats with online courses i would be surprised if online didn't prove to be a far more effective model.

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it would depend on the class environment, i imagine. it is extremely difficult to replicate a seminar-style course online. however if we are comparing traditional lecture type formats with online courses i would be surprised if online didn't prove to be a far more effective model.

My thoughts exactly. I'm not sure how MOOCs would cater for courses requiring participation. I have held (or tried to hold) roleplaying sessions with only one participant skyping from NZ and 4-5 people face to face and it doesn't work that well for the skyper. The background noise makes it difficult to follow the conversation. It might be possible to hold workshops with really good bandwidth and a better conferencing software but this wouldn't fit the MOOCs model anyway. The costs savings of having a coordinator run a discussion would be unchanged (except for the bricks and mortar) and if the course were O/S then you would need local providers to overcome the time differences. Local study groups would also be difficult unless institutions shared resources. Maybe that is the answer. Franchising?

For passive delivery I see huge benefits. There is always multiple ways of explaining a concept and some people are very good at it. These people should do the delivery. The ability to rewind or even seek an alternate lesson (if you didn't quite grasp the concept in the first instance) would be helpful.

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My thoughts exactly. I'm not sure how MOOCs would cater for courses requiring participation. I have held (or tried to hold) roleplaying sessions with only one participant skyping from NZ and 4-5 people face to face and it doesn't work that well for the skyper. The background noise makes it difficult to follow the conversation. It might be possible to hold workshops with really good bandwidth and a better conferencing software but this wouldn't fit the MOOCs model anyway. The costs savings of having a coordinator run a discussion would be unchanged (except for the bricks and mortar) and if the course were O/S then you would need local providers to overcome the time differences. Local study groups would also be difficult unless institutions shared resources. Maybe that is the answer. Franchising?

For passive delivery I see huge benefits. There is always multiple ways of explaining a concept and some people are very good at it. These people should do the delivery. The ability to rewind or even seek an alternate lesson (if you didn't quite grasp the concept in the first instance) would be helpful.

over the past year i've been changing one of my classes from a lecture format to a flipped classroom model and it's been a huge improvement - for me and for the students. the online component offers a lot of flexibility - it's more or less entirely self-paced, they can pick and choose the components that are most effective for them and once they have achieved sufficient mastery they can move on. by putting all of the lecture component online i'm able to use contact hours much more effectively--creating a student-centred environment, with people working in groups and pairs rather than just listening to me drone on (or not listening as was likely the case). contrary to what most of my colleagues think, however, this doesn't mean less work for me (substantially more, really), but it's a hell of a lot more interesting. i'm hoping to put together a 100% online course (but for credit and with active teacher/tutor involvement so very diff't from the mooc model in that respect) over the next year or two if i can scrape together enough grant money.

there's a lot that can be done with technology now that will, eventually, change how we look at education (hopefully in a positive way) but the university will stick around for a while yet, i think (i hope). there is still the whole experiential aspect of it and, thinking back on my undergraduate days, that was by far the most important component. i learned far more from the people i met at uni than i did from my coursework.

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over the past year i've been changing one of my classes from a lecture format to a flipped classroom model and it's been a huge improvement - for me and for the students. the online component offers a lot of flexibility - it's more or less entirely self-paced, they can pick and choose the components that are most effective for them and once they have achieved sufficient mastery they can move on. by putting all of the lecture component online i'm able to use contact hours much more effectively--creating a student-centred environment, with people working in groups and pairs rather than just listening to me drone on (or not listening as was likely the case). contrary to what most of my colleagues think, however, this doesn't mean less work for me (substantially more, really), but it's a hell of a lot more interesting. i'm hoping to put together a 100% online course (but for credit and with active teacher/tutor involvement so very diff't from the mooc model in that respect) over the next year or two if i can scrape together enough grant money.

there's a lot that can be done with technology now that will, eventually, change how we look at education (hopefully in a positive way) but the university will stick around for a while yet, i think (i hope). there is still the whole experiential aspect of it and, thinking back on my undergraduate days, that was by far the most important component. i learned far more from the people i met at uni than i did from my coursework.

I wish you every success in obtaining the funding. It does seem a much better model having the course material online and students turning up prepared with questions. At least from an educational point of view. I guess you are also getting feedback to improve the online component. Definitely wouldn't make it an easier job. More effective though. If your KPI's are based on grades you should do well. :)

I have been delivering training on digital certificates just this week. It was alas a powerpoint presentation of my own making interspersed with practical examples using openSSL. To keep the participants awake I was firing questions about the content. It's hard to gauge how effective it was. I am interested of course but I did see some glazed eyes. :o It would be great if there was a canned session that I could provide. I can't help thinking that given time and a better understanding of slick graphics I could make a saleable product. There's nothing else out there that I could find.

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oh look KRudd gets back in and hands $10million to his pet project from the 2020 summit. A project that has already recieved $50million and is well outside the usual funding research channels that everyone else must go through.

bionic eye

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