Sunday, May 27, 2012

Telecommuting for Education as Australia's Second Export Industry

A recent discussion in the TeleworkAustralia discussion forum has been on the legal impediments to working online. In response, I did a quick web search and found "Telecommuting: Issues in Public and Private Sector Employment", Nicolee Dixon, Queensland Parliamentary Library Research Brief, 2003:
"This Brief will attempt to examine the issues that may explain why the uptake of telecommuting has fallen short of expectations held many years ago. It will discuss, as matters for consideration by workplaces, the perceived advantages and disadvantages of telecommuting in achieving improved business outcomes and client services that are important to the
future of Queensland."
In my view it is not so much the legal issues, but the problem of defining what work is, which holds up telework use. If your boss can't see you "working", then they will have to judge by the results you produce. They might not mind that so much, but then their boss might want to judge them, by their results.

At present I am learning how to design online courses and then will apply that to research supervision.

The same issues arises teaching as with telework: how do you know if the students are "studying" and the teachers are "teaching", if you can't see them in a classroom? The obvious answer is that you get students to exercises and judge what they have learned from that. You judge the teachers by the results of their students and by what their students say about them. This then works its way up, with the school and principal, or university and vice-chancellor, being similarly assessed.

Education may emerge as the major use of telework in Australia. Education is Australia's largest export industry (after mining). As courses go online, it is very natural for teachers to telework.

I will be discussing some of this at the 7th International Conference on Computer Science & Education (ICCSE 2011) in Melbourne (Australia), mid July 2012:

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