Aussie Educator

It is too easy to confuse information access with genuine knowledge acquisition. Gregory Yates

Welcome to the latest update of this page. Over recent times there have been a number of educational events, discussions, reports, claims, counter-claims, suggestions, opinions and much, much more. To cover all would be, if not impossible, a mammoth task. Some will have a minor effect [if any] on education. Others, if taken up or even responded to, may have long term effects of a significant nature. Several are covered in commentary below. Meanwhile ...

  • The Australian Computer Society will be running a Global ICT Educators Event in Sydney on 6 November 2018, Brisbane on 7 November 2018 and Melbourne on 8 November 2018, in conjunction with Lego Education. Registrations close on 1 November 2018 for all three sites. A major bonus is the presence of Mitch Resnick as the speaker. All other details are available from the relevant pages listed above.
  • Just when you thought it was fully developed, NCVER has made their portal even better, with information easier to access. Navigation and search have been improved, visualisations are available, an all-new RTO hub and much more. IF you want to find information for this sector, this is certainly the place to go.
  • John Hattie is always interesting and informative to listen to when it comes to education. He is regarded highly not only in Australia but around the world. His work relates to teaching strategies. This covers a wide range of aspects. One of these is the role of feedback. Getting Feedback Right is a fairly short Q&A article [Education Week] in an easy to read presentation is an example of the sort of practical information which he provides. Well worth the time to read.
  • Early Career Teachers - an online survey is being conducted by UTS asking you about your digital competencies developed at university and how these then supported you into your teaching. If you are interested, please go to the following link : Survey Form, to complete the survey. Part of the project is an online follow-up interview and several more people are wanted for this as well. To thank you for your time completing the survey and interview, you can enter into a draw and be eligible to win one of four AU$50 vouchers’.

We have also included new articles in the relevant section. Some of these may also be referred to in the commentary. There seems to be an unending supply of documents and articles being produced in this area. It often proves difficult to select only the few that appear. However, as someone once said - ‘Life wasn’t meant to be easy’.

Among interesting talking points are ...

Glyn Davis

Glyn Davis has been among the forefront people of higher education for some time. Probably known best as the Vice-Chancellor of University of Melbourne, strongly involved in the development of the Melbourne Model and a cool head in relation to commenting on all aspects of higher education. However, not for much longer, as he will only remain in his current post until October. This was only one aspect of his contribution to higher education and there are likely many more still to come with several already proposed or being considered.

Recently, David Myton had a ‘conversation’ with Glyn Davis. In this he covered his ‘career to date, offers his thoughts on the state of Australian higher education – and whether our universities are being subverted by leftist radicals’. One hopes he continues to comment on our current and future system as he has done so well in the past.

A thought from the past

I recently went back to read an article from earlier in 2018. This expressed a question which has arisen several times over previous years back to before the turn of the century. It was related to something most people probably expected to occur but the author concludes the article with the statement ‘You would think that such models would easily appeal to a global student body, but that’s what we thought 20 years ago’.

He was referring to the question - Will global online higher education ever take off ? With the advent of internet, MOOCs and more, one would certainly have considered there was a high chance of this occurring. It simply does not seem to be the case, even though there has been some movement in this direction. Perhaps its time has yet to come. Perhaps the human interaction which has always existed in higher education is seen as such an integral part of the process that it never will. The article is well worth reading. Perhaps we might come back to it at a future date - and still be receiving the same answers.

Public or Private ?

In a period when funding of schools has raised its head again, it is probably not surprising to find commentary on the public/private structure of our education system and the values of one sector or the other. It is not surprising then to come across articles such as ‘Bespoke education’ : are Australia’s private schools worth the price tag ?, School choice : some parents are prepared to pay, but is society ?, Here is the expensive truth about private schools and student learning and The great public v private education con job.

While there are a number of valid points about decisions which parents make and why they make them, it is unlikely it will change those who are wedded to either sector. There are some interesting comments about the abnormality of the spread between sectors when compared with other countries such as Canada. They also refer to a range of research which makes for interesting reading and consideration. Will it change people’s views ? Probably not. It certainly has not done so in the past and, sadly, it is unlikely to do so now. My feeling is that we leave what we are unlikely ever to be able to change and look at the more important area. The maximum funding possible for every child’s educational needs whatever these may be - that is funding given on a genuine needs-based structure which is both nation wide and irrespective of which sector is involved. I cannot think of any position a person could take that would effectively argue against such a funding process. Can you ?

VET

In recent times it has been difficult to find a major positive story in this sector. Negative reports - you would be swamped by them. However, perhaps the tide is beginning to turn. A number of reports suggest there is considerable scope for developing skills and finding employment. Articles such as Vocational training leads to more career options than many know are quite open about this. Perhaps a second article with a major sub-heading of The vocational image problem can be seen to provide some of the reasons why this is so.

This can easily be seen when KPMG recently suggested a commonwealth takeover of both tertiary sectors - universities and vocational education. There certainly seems to be some value to their rationale in suggesting this. It even garnered some positive support for the vocational sector, though there were restrictions on how far some were prepared to go [see here]. There were others who also thought a single sector may have value. These included Stephen Parker and, in some respects, Jennifer Buckingham.

Karen Andrews continues to slug away on behalf of the sector. Among the various releases are Successful tuition protection program to expand [also see here]; Celebrations as one-millionth apprentice signs-up and even indicating A resilient VET sector holding steady.

NCVER while producing an extensive range of data and research, has also taken a fairly positive approach with a number of release and reports. The latest includes VET in Schools, with a media release indicating School students still choosing VET and a statistical report which details some minor drops and one very large increase. Hopefully, a number of these factors will coalesce, and the initial positive shoots of support will continue to expand so that vocational education will be recognised for the value it offers and be seen as a viable alternative to the university sector.

Aah, those acronyms are in the news again ...

Among the best known acronyms in Australian education are ATAR and NAPLAN. While they become especially dominant in particular parts of the year, they never quite escape some level of reporting.

The first is now being touted as being gone in ten years and tying it in to other areas such as curriculum offerings [see here]. The place of an ATAR score in our schools is another opinion piece but does not go quite as far. However, based on current evidence, one has to wonder why it will take this long. Evidence suggests significant numbers of students are entering universities on the basis of other factors. Business often indicates it pays the scale any attention at all.

The second is facing a similar uproar at present. After NAPLAN results [were] delayed over concerns national data could be invalid followed by International education expert questions validity of this year’s NAPLAN data we reached a point where it was indicated that Calls [were growing] for a ‘comprehensive’ NAPLAN review. Twas always thus. Perhaps the point made at the end of this article should be brought to the fore - ‘The real issue is misuse of data’ - and sorted before leaping to the call for total cancellation.

And finally, what happens to Gonski now ?

The last week in politics does not need explaining [who can ?]. Whatever the cause and the end product, it will impact in many areas, not least education. Already there have been ructions with Gonski 2.0. While Gonski 2.0 as not perfect and did not promise as much as others, although it still detailed increases in funding, it was better than anything which had preceded it - one agreement, increased funding, even eventually a preparedness to find a new funding formula.

Just a few of the recent articles relating to the funding process alone brought forth presentations including the following. The funding process - Explaining Australia’s school funding debate : what’s at stake; 5 facts on school funding; Catholic schools’ funding : here we go again; Explaining Australia’s school funding debate.

General commentary - Best way to lift schools’ performance is the will to get on with it; School war has unravelled our national story. Specific aspects - Minister open to rejigging schools funding; School funding after Batman and Longman, responded to via Tempora mutantur ... [Lindsay Connors]; Coalition warned ‘all bets are off’ if it bows to Catholic school funding demands; Independents gain Govt assurance over new funding methodology; and The schools funding saga wends on its way and everything changes while everything stays the same. If you look, you will find many more. And don’t start trying to comprehend the scope of letters and other opinion pieces !

Even with these and more, we are still in limbo and may be for some time. Will people stick to a not perfect scheme [and in the process of being modified in the financial sense] that has actually moved closer to the Gonski concept than the previous one ? Will we see move back to the original scheme ? Will more funding be thrown at all schools or just some groups of schools ? Will this solve the problems that exist and that still exist in many instances today, even given the significant funds which have already been used ’. Will we end up being offered something completely new ? One would hope the current process, with a modified funded methodology, will be retained by whoever is in power over the next several years. It seems to promise the best hope we have of changing the trajectory of educational progress for the whole of this sector, especially those with specific educational needs.

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There are recently produced items that warrant at least a brief mention. See what you think about each and whether you agree or not. Most items are Australian in origin. Follow each link that piques your particular interests.

Connecting the worlds of learning and work
Prioritising school-industry partnerships in Australia’s education system. More is being demanded of schools to prepare young people for an unpredictable and uncertain future, but there are limits to what schools can achieve in isolation from the wider community. Both schools and industry play a role in ensuring that all children and young people are given learning opportunities that enable them to reach their full potential and develop the skills and capabilities that are needed in future jobs’. The Executive Summary provides a succinct explanation of what the report is about and what it recommends.

Institutionalised Separation : The Impact of Selective Schools
‘Institutionalised Separation looks at inequity within selective schools and their impact on other schools, focussing on NSW. It presents evidence of dramatic, and deepening, educational inequality. However, My School and other data now reveal that selective schools are all but inaccessible to most students’. Discussion paper.

Micro-credentials in New Zealand’s education and training system
Micro-credentials are being talked about in Australia when looking to lifelong training for people who will have multiple jobs over their working life. With this consultation paper, New Zealand has placed itself ahead of Australia in looking at what might be involved. The related page, Recognising micro-credentials in New Zealand [New Zealand Qualifications Authority], provides additional detail.

Reimagining Tertiary Education
From binary system to ecosystem The document behind much of the recent commentary by many people about what tertiary [including both universities and vocational training] should be like in the future. If you are going to listen to the multitude of comments, having read this will give you the appropriate basis to understand what individuals are saying and whether this actually makes sense. After all, those approaching this level of study and the potential result[s] from what and where you study, have a vested interest in what is decided upon - it is your future that is being talked about.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution
The implications of technological disruption for Australian VET []. ‘The focus of this report is to provide insights into the potential implications for vocational education and training of the ‘disruptive technologies’ associated with Industry 4.0 from the perspective of industry [technology users] and innovators [technology producers]. Here, the term ‘disruptive technologies’ refers to large-scale technology/market changes as a consequence of technological advances such as automation, advanced robotics and virtualisation’.

Understanding Work in Schools - The Foundation for Teaching and Learning
‘The survey of 18 000 NSW primary and secondary public school teachers reveals the severe and intrusive impact of data collection requirements on teachers’ core job of providing quality teaching to support student learning. Preliminary findings of the survey [done in Term 1, 2018] were released in May, and the final report’ was released in July of this year. ‘Dr McGrath-Champ [lead author, University of Sydney] said the need for systemic change is urgent’.

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