All posts by Panos Vlachopoulos

Panos Vlachopoulos is the Associate Dean Quality and Standards in the Faculty of Arts and a researcher in the area of technology-enhanced learning in higher education.

How do you measure up?


How many sessional staff teach at your university? The majority of teaching across Australian universities is undertaken by sessional staff and it is time to ensure that the contribution of sessional staff is included in key strategic and operational plans for quality learning and teaching. The BLASST (Benchmarking leadership and advancement of standards for sessional teaching) framework is offered to you as an online interactive tool (go to to explore, even benchmark, how your department, faculty or institution ‘measures up’ to the national evidenced-based standards. Individual sessional staff can also engage with this online tool. You will be rewarded with a report which signals your standards using a traffic light system, for example green represents you are achieving a high standard.

For more information about the project contact Dr Marina Harvey,   Lecturer in Academic Development, Macquarie University

Welcoming and student bonding activities for Online Learners

Another academic term has just started at Macquarie University Campus.  First-years are looking around for opportunities to meet new friends, join a social club and attend one of the many induction sessions.  What a great way to start their journey into academia!  But what about our fully online learners? Do they have the same opportunities to ‘bond’? Do they experience the same level of engagement with academia as our campus students?

Continue reading Welcoming and student bonding activities for Online Learners

Guides for Academics from Students with Disabilities

A blind person using a BrailleNote Apex BT 18 Braille Notetaker

At some point in a career every teacher will encounter students with some level of disability or impairment.

 The University of Melbourne has recently released another two of their informative guides providing tips and advice that students with disabilities want teachers to know.  The new guides are the ones about Acquired Brain Injury and Anxiety.  Other guides cover topics such as Hearing Impairment, Mental Illness, Blindness, Dyslexia, MS, and mobility problems.  The guides can be found at

 You might also be interested in some of the Inclusive Practice resources produced by Macquarie.

– Tony Dwyer, LTC’s Head of Web, Media and Development Services

Top 25!

international uni photoOn Friday 24th of January 2014 The Times Higher Education published its list of the top 100 most international universities in the world. Macquarie University was not only one of the many  well established institutions named in this list, but made it to the top 25. Our university is in fact  number 9 on the list, a position higher than many prestigious international universities, like the University of Oxford and all other New South Wales Universities.

About 10 years ago Macquarie  launched a  global marketing campaign to attract and sign up international students. This has resulted over the years  in an increased number of international students studying at Macquarie but also in an increasing number of partnerships with overseas universities, both in terms of research and teaching.

But how well placed is Macquarie to respond to the challenges of internationalisation? A response to this question can be found at Macquarie’s Strategic Plan document ” Our University: A Framework of Futures”.  According to our Strategic Plan, we are not only interested in effectively recruiting international students, but we take an holistic approach to internationalisation that involves enhancing the international student experience, developing staff capability of internationalisation and enhancing the international experience of our home students (See Figure 1).

MQ internationalisation
Figure 1: Extract from ‘Our university” A Framing of Futures” (page 20)

The Learning and Teaching Centre has developed some useful resources that can support academics with understanding the challenges and opportunities  of our internationalisation agenda.  It also runs hands-on workshops on teaching culturally diverse tutorials .



We all need a (critical) friend!

book cowanJohn Cowan was the first Professor of Engineering Education in the UK, at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, where his educationally-oriented research and development concentrated on student-centered learning and the learning experience. On moving to the Open University in Scotland as Director in 1987, he encouraged innovative curriculum development and campaigned nationally for rigorous formative evaluation in higher education. When he retired from his tutoring duties in the autumn of 2011, he had been teaching, conducting, and publishing accounts of action research studies of his practices since 1952.

Continue reading We all need a (critical) friend!

Panos reflects on MOOCs

panos vlachopoulosIn October 2013 I engaged in a discussion with fellow online learning scholars in the Association of Learning Technology Mail-list (UK). We discussed various issues related to MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and their perceived and actual value for enhancing learning in Universities. Perhaps the most well thought out contribution was made by Professor Diana Laurillard  from the Institute of Education, University of London. She wrote: Continue reading Panos reflects on MOOCs

Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia Conference 2014

HERSDAThe Higher Education Research and Development Society of  Australasia (HERSDA) in collaboration with the Hong Kong Baptist University are hosting the HERSDA 2014 Annual Conference from 7 to 10 of July 2014 in Hong Kong.  The conference theme is ‘Higher Education in a Globalized World’ and the call for contributions is now open.The call for proposals closes on 7 February 2014. More information about the conference can be found on the HERSDA 2014 website.