Teacher of the week: Matt Bower

Matt Bower is an Associate Professor within the Department of Educational Studies.

After beginning professional life in the actuarial field I decided to return to Macquarie to pursue my passion for Education. I then taught high school mathematics for several years in Sydney and Alice Springs, but also ventured further afield to relief teaching in England and Business English teaching in Japan. The whole time I was fascinated by how technology could be used to enhance learning, so decided to complete a degree specialising in computing and a Master of Education. This led to me designing and teaching an Online Graduate Diploma of IT over in the Faculty of Science, and completing my PhD in how web-conferencing systems could be used to promote more interactive and collaborative computing education.

When a position opened up in the Department of Educational Studies I jumped at the opportunity to teach and research the use of technology to enhance learning. I’ve been doing that for almost ten years now, and still immensely enjoy it. On the domestic front I live in The ‘Bra and try to surf or ocean swim whenever there is time outside of work and raising two young boys.

  1. What are your main teaching commitments?

I convene and teach in the units ‘EDUC261 ICT and Education’, ‘EDUC362 Digital Creativity and Learning’, and ‘EDCN865 Learning Technologies in Practice’.

2. What have you been working on recently?

I’ve just released a new book entitled “Design of Technology Enhanced Learning – Integrating Research and Practice“. It synthesises the general and empirical learning technology research to so that educators and researchers can adopt an evidence-based and design-driven approach to technology-enhanced learning design.

  1. What’s the biggest challenge you face as a university teacher?

To be honest I find the current uncertainty around learning technologies in the University the biggest challenge. While I was very excited by the Learning and Teaching Strategic Framework, we still don’t have a fully featured University web-conferencing system that enables basic things like collaborative notes areas or presenting slides while viewing a text chat channel, and the MQ blog server is being shut down due to lack of staffing to maintain it. I understand these things can take time and I’m looking forward to the execution of the Framework.

  1. What has helped you improve your teaching most and why?

Listening carefully to students makes the greatest contribution to improving my teaching. And also research literature is enormously helpful because it provides insights from reflective educators around the world who have spent a lot of time thinking about and researching education.

  1. What’s been your most memorable moment in teaching? 

My most memorable moment while teaching at Macquarie was probably the blended reality environment we setup as part of the Blended Synchronous Learning project. We had half the class participating in a tutorial via a virtual world and interacting with the students in the face-to-face classroom. The technical setup with video streaming into the virtual world classroom took immense cooperation from over a dozen people right across the University but in the end we pulled it off and the students were ‘wow’ed.

  1. Who is your favourite music band? Why?

Powerderfinger, because they rock.

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