Once again, it has been a long gap since the last blog post. In the intervening time I have been making strategy presentations to staff around the university. I have to say it has been pleasing and encouraging to get feedback from staff that they have enjoyed the blog and that it has been provoking discussion. A few people have commented that there was quite a lot to digest in the last post so maybe it’s not such a bad thing to have left a gap. I was also pondering that given the deluge of words on the Internet, perhaps sometimes silence can be a virtue.
I have had some wonderful and illuminating discussions with various people as a result of the blog and the presentations which have really helped us flesh out thoughts on the narrative. We have also had a Vice-Chancellor’s Forum at which we discussed strategy. There we committed to the conceptual content of the narrative and to producing a strategic summary of our direction on two pages. The aim of this is to spell out what we are trying to achieve and what problems we need to solve to achieve this. I am hoping that we can produce a document which is distinctive and which is useful for staff in thinking about priorities. Because of this, it will not be a completely inclusive document. I think one of the problems with strategic planning is that you can end up writing a document which attempts to honour every part of the organisation and ends up lacking clarity as a result. We are currently in the process of finalising the draft of this and will circulate it widely for comment after that.
I will be attending CSUED2012 in November as I think we have a lot of important work to do in considering our approach to teaching and learning. Merilyn Childs from FLI and her colleagues have created some videos of my thoughts in the lead up to these. They have been advertised via What’s New but if you haven’t seen them they’re here.
Also on the theme of learning technologies, there’s some really active discussion on the CSU Yammer Groups https://www.yammer.com/csu.edu.au.
There has been a lot of discussion about MOOCs and a suggestion they might sweep away existing universities. I doubt that is exactly what will happen and we are starting to see some commentary noting that completion rates are low and questions over the value of any badging from studying via a MOOC. I think there will be interesting things to be learned from engaging with MOOCs though. Facilitating online scholarly communities and diagnostic testing to help learners locate their current knowledge and skills within the discipline are particularly interesting. I do think we need to be able to innovate and experiment in the online space. I don’t know that we want to jump on the MOOC bandwagon but perhaps we too should be finding some lower risk spaces where we can give away content so we can learn.
20/30/40 Year Service Awards
As noted from the Twitter feed, I attended the 20/30/40 Year Service awards. It was lovely to get an opportunity to thank our long-serving staff. Geoff Bamberry who received the 40 Year Service medal put me on to some good information about some of the early influences on CSU. William Merrylees (after whom the Library is named in Wagga) was a long-term advocate of a proper university for the Riverina. It’s nice to see in a paper written by Donald Boadle that Merrylees said it all before in the ‘60s (if in the then predominant gender-specific form):
“Although no other academic critic was as trenchant as Anderson, most singled out Merrylees’ emphasis on the community’s interests, claiming that he was preoccupied with ‘the training of professional people’ whose skills would be tailored to the narrowly utilitarian requirements of the Riverina’s rural producers. But Merrylees replied that his aim, like Plato’s, was to educate ‘the whole man ; . . . to fit him to live a full life, and to respond to any situation; . . . in short to become a good citizen’.”
Medical School Bid
As you may have seen the National Party’s Federal Conference formally endorsed support for CSU’s Medical School bid. This is a very positive step and builds on the outcomes of the Senate Inquiry into rural health workforces which also provided support.
We continue to lobby for this with the Federal Government. We need communities that have appropriate health care professionals and the Health Workforce Australia 2025 and Senate Inquiry reports both demonstrate that the existing systems are very unlikely to fix the current maldistribution of doctors within Australia. This therefore is a community issue that we need to do our part in trying to solve. I note the recent discussions around finding internships for international students many of which may end up in regional and rural areas. It is clear therefore that the issue of placements and internships can be addressed if there is sufficient political will. We look forward to this will being directed to a long-term solution for rural and regional health rather than to meeting the training needs of metropolitan medical schools.
CSU Bike Week
I was delighted to take part in CSU Bike Week a week or two ago and cycle into the Bathurst campus. I have to confess I have generally driven into work because of the need to drive off to other places (and probably some laziness). I was doing OK at getting out on my bike for exercise early in the morning – but this was a bit disrupted by the spell of -5 mornings through the winter so it was great to get to work with the circulation moving.
Now I have the initial round of familiarisation out of the way, I am trying to spend some more time visiting the actual workplaces in the university. I had a lovely time on the Albury campus a couple of weeks ago with Julia Coyle just wandering through the offices and meeting people. I’m planning to do some more of this over the coming months and years, but it may take a while to get to everybody.
I have mentioned Sir Ken Robinson’s ‘Are Schools Killing Creativity’ TED Talk at my staff presentations and it seems not many people have seen it. It is wonderful and can be found here.
Sue Moloney, Director International Relations, forwarded a link to a lovely piece on the lessons from the Muppets for academic administration. Ever since we went to see the Muppet Movie my wife has been asking me if I’m a man or a Muppet. I’m happy to own up to channelling Kermit too.