I’ve got designs on you……

Who do you have in mind when you design or add content to your unit?

Braille Font Keys, Image courtesy of Hans, Pixabay, http://pixabay.com/en/braille-font-keys-metal-plate-52554/The needs of students with disabilities are often overlooked when academics are designing and building an online unit.  Sometimes it is due to time constraints, busy workloads or not knowing where to seek help. Online learning should be an even playing field, even if you are unaware of students with any special learning needs, you should be designing and building as if there are.  ‘But where do you find help?’ I hear you ask. Continue reading I’ve got designs on you……

Quality and the market

In the report, Dimensions of Quality, Graham Gibbs (former Director of the Oxford Learning Institute at the University of Oxford) synthesised significant research over the last 30 years or so that identified valid success factors in undergraduate education.  It attempted to identify what data we should take seriously when making judgements about the quality of learning and teaching and associated resourcing.  Much more than input and output, what mattered most were process variables – what institutions do with their resources for the students they have.

In late 2012 he published another report, Implications of ‘Dimensions of Quality’ in a market environment, which considered how institutions are variously responding to demand driven, data based markets as they attempt to improve market share, quality and value for money.

Sound familiar?

Both reports draw evidence form the USA, Australia and elsewhere, but the higher education system Gibbs was most interested in was the UK’s.  So as the Australian sector increasingly focuses on the market to drive quality, is there anything we can learn?  Probably.

Implications found that reputation still dominates even though this is an invalid indicator of educational quality and institutions with already high reputations have a vested interest in resisting the introduction of more valid indicators.  It found that quality assurance in most institutions overlooked the most crucial indicators of quality, namely: class size, who does the teaching and the contact students have with them, learning resources, feedback, collaborative learning, and belonging and engagement.

Gibbs went on to look at the practical consequences of the data market and the ways in which institutions are reacting.  He observed a retreat from the unitised system toward program level organisation and assessment; quality enhancement focused at the team level (along with reward and recognition for leadership in teaching and learning); new processes for institutional change (including things like changing the students’ role from consumers to partners); a focus on hygiene factors and service delivery; promotion of institutional distinctiveness; and a re-built emphasis and systemic infrastructure for teaching (one that aligned things like recruitment, initial training, promotion, resources, library, priorities, etc.)

If, as the Minister for Education expects, the market will drive quality I believe these two reports offer much in providing us with a glimpse of a possible future, its opportunities, and mistakes to avoid.  There is more in them than I can summarise here and I leave it to you to consider where we are and will be in the years hence.

Universities as non-places

Dr Agnes Bosanquet reflects on “Universities as non-places”

MQ sculptureImagine, somewhat like Dorothy or Alice or Bastian, you find yourself in a strange place. You perceive that you are in a university (being overly familiar with such places). But can you tell which university? Or even what country you inhabit? How strong is your sense of place? Continue reading Universities as non-places

Need beautiful scientific images? Meet your new best friend

Finding images that are freely available for educational use can sometimes be tricky.  CSIRO has just made it a whole lot easier for those in scientific (and other) fields by releasing its ScienceImage library (http://www.scienceimage.csiro.au)under a Creative Commons Attribution license.

Everyone now has access to freely use, repost and transform the collection’s 4000+ high definition images and videos – perfect for Powerpoints!   The library represents more than six decades worth of environmental, industrial, agricultural and technological research images.

Get to Grips with Copyright

CopyrightCome along and join Sylvie Saab from the Library who will be facilitating two workshops on the subject of copyright. Sylvie is a copyright lawyer based in the Library. She has previously worked in copyright for the education sector (schools and TAFE) and commercial broadcasting. She joined Macquarie University last year to advise on all matters of information policy and has a knack for turning complex copyright laws into simple and practical principles.

Introduction to Copyright Session
This session will explain what copyright is, why it’s important and how Australian copyright law provides special exceptions and licences for the educational use of copyright material. It will also explore some ‘smart’ practices that will assist in overcoming copyright barriers and complexities.
Monday 12 May,      2pm-3.30pm
Tuesday 20 May,     2pm-3.30pm

In-Depth Copyright Session
This session will provide greater detail on the educational exceptions and licences and present some common case studies illustrating their application. It will also provide a summary of the report recently released by the Australian Law Reform Commission on the need for copyright reform in Australia and what the ALRC’s recommendations mean for the education sector.
Wednesday 14 May,   9.30am-11am
Thursday 22 May,  2pm-3.30pm
To register:  Please outline the session/s you are interested in, and send an email to lib.training@mq.edu.au


Janet’s Rally for Hope Africa


As you all know, our very own Janet Greeley is on safari in South Africa in support of the organisation Hope Africa.  

The Student Centre launched its support of Janet’s fundraising rally on Wednesday May 7 with a magnificent curry lunch for the team , raising $300. Grateful thanks must go to Radha, Shyam and Neil’s mum Meena for a magnificent spread of butter chicken, raita, potato curry, breads and pickles! Thanks also to Anita and colleagues for setting up an stunning instant restaurant in the staff room!

On Wednesday 14 May, the Student Centre also hosted a morning tea with a great turn out of staff who enjoyed a wonderful array of teatime treats and a welcome opportunity to catch up with colleagues. Thank you to everyone who attended both functions  and helped us to raise a total of $715 towards Janet’s Rally for Hope Africa.





ATTENTION all lecturers! International Student Barometer Survey

international uni photoEvery year , Macquarie International takes part in the International Student Barometer and, as with all surveys, participation is critical. Your help is needed to ensure as many international students as possible complete the survey by the deadline of 16th May.

The survey is a chance for students to tell Macquarie University what’s working and not working, and what their university experience has been like. Their feedback will help us improve the Macquarie experience and our rankings.

To thank students for completing the survey, i-gradute offers a chance to win $1000 cash prize. Macquarie is also offering a chance to win an Apple iPad!

If possible, we would like to access the first two minutes of your lecture in the next week to address the group. Please advise the most appropriate times and locations for this.

It not, please ask students to check their emails and complete the survey.  https://survey.euro.confirmit.com/wix4/p1834294624.aspx?ins=100112&rort=r&abc=1

We highly appreciate your cooperation and we thank you in advance.

A message from Nicole Brigg, Director, Macquarie International

Learning and Teaching Week 22-25 September Call for Proposals and Reviewers

Planning your online courseopCelebrating Learning and Teaching: Less is More: Call for Proposals and Reviewers

22-25 September, 2014

This is an invitation to contribute to Macquarie’s Learning and Teaching Week which will be held from Monday 22 – Thursday 25 of September, 2014.

This year the Program will run from Monday 22 September to Wednesday 24 September, followed by the annual Macquarie University 3 Minute Thesis Finals on Thursday 25 September.

We are seeking interesting, exciting practice-based contributions for nano-presentations, demonstrations and poster sessions, as well as papers based on research and scholarship. Proposals for workshops, roundtable discussions and symposia are also welcome.

As the program covers only three days, there are limited places available for presentations. All abstracts will go through a double-blind peer review process against set criteria. More information is available on the website below. We are also asking for expressions of interest from those who would be interested in reviewing abstracts.

Abstracts are due on May 17, 2014. For more information about the criteria and process, if you wish to submit an abstract for review, or you would like to become involved with the review process, please visit the Learning and Teaching Week website.

Contact: Elizabeth Shoostovian or call ext.1608.



Faster easier grading? How rubrics and Grademark can help



The scenario:  A second year Accounting unit of over 800 students, 32 tutorial groups and 10 tutors. The assessment task:  A research project (1500 words).  The challenge: how to achieve reliable and efficient marking across such a large number of assignments and teaching staff?


As part of her plan to tackle this scenario, Nui Savanid invested time developing a solid rubric to mark the assignment, setting out clearly the criteria for marking and levels of achievement.  Rubrics help students to understand expectations about an assignment, improve the quality of their work – and ultimately improve their grades. While a comprehensive rubric  takes time to develop, the investment should save time in the long run as it clearly communicates expectations to students and provides a relatively quick marking tool. It also helps ensure consistency amongst markers.


Marking online with Grademark can be an efficient way to deliver all-round feedback including  comments, grades and feedback student performance in relation to rubric criteria.  With the help of the Learning and Teaching Centre’s faculty liaison team, Nui has also developed a series of workshops for her teaching staff  in response to the challenges of her unit. More – Nui’s rubric, how to use a rubric in iLearn








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