Garry is a recent recruit to the Department of Educational Studies.
I have recently joined Macquaire University as Professor of Digital Learning and the Fairfax Foundation Chair of Teacher Education. Prior to winning this position, I had a similar role at Waikato University in New Zealand, and before that I worked with corporates such as Microsoft and CSIRO researching and designing education programs for schools. I also have nearly 20 years experience teaching in, and leading, a range of New Zealand primary and secondary schools.
My past research activities include exploring the effect of app design on student learning pathways, technology-facilitated school-scientist partnerships, the use of synchronous virtual classrooms in supporting distance students, online learning environment design, and the design and use of digital learning objects for learning. Presently I am engaged in school-based research on using apps for building science procedural and conceptual knowledge, and for fostering higher-order thinking capabilities.
What are your main teaching commitments?
I am really enjoying my role teaching the digital technologies component in the undergraduate 0-12 years program. I spent the first week or so of my time here redeveloping the content for this, and it is a lot of fun working with some really focused and interested young people in the tutorials and online.
My other teaching work is in postgraduate MRes and PhD supervision, and there’s some good stuff happening there too! I am also working with quite a few staff on Digital Technologies teaching and research projects, and are fully engaged with schools in the Hub Schools program. I expect to be starting some applied research work with teachers at Oatlands school soon on a technology-in-STEM initiative, and I’m working as part of a team at Carlingford West exploring 3D printing in Makerspaces.
What’s the biggest challenge you face as a university teacher?
I think the biggest challenge is keeping ahead (or even pace with) of the phenomenal rate of change in my field. Digital technologies certainly have significant potential to transform education as we know it, but this needs to be supported by curriculum designs and teaching and assessment approaches that encourage and reward the sort of capabilities they are best able to support. This means more individualised and project-oriented approaches focused on building creative, critical and higher order thinking capacities that are going to be so important for everyone in the future.
What has helped you improve your teaching most and why?
A realisation that the type of skills and dispositions needed by young people exiting the education system now are fundamentally different to those required even a few years ago. The world is a much more complex place, and young people need skills and attitudes that will enable them to work together to solve the many problems that it faces now, and into the future. Realising this has changed the way (and what) I teach to hopefully encourage a more critical and inquiring attitude in my students – one that does not necessarily accept the status quo.
What’s been your most memorable moment in teaching?
I have to say that this probably happened when I was teaching new entrant children (5 year olds) in New Zealand. I can’t really put my finger on a single incident (it was a while ago now!) but I have very fond memories of working with these very young children and recall the huge satisfaction of seeing them grow and develop during their first year at school. I think that’s why I enjoy so much my current research work in classrooms.
Who is your favourite music band? Why?
That’s an easy one! It has to be Pink Floyd – I especially love their live concerts. The guitar work and melodies of David Gilmour in Dark Side of the Moon, and the magic of Roger Waters in The Wall, are standouts for me. It’s great that Waters is coming to Sydney next year. We’ve got our tickets already!