Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Learning and Teaching Grants

Greetings from the Australian National University in Canberra, where I am attending a workshop on Learning and Teaching Grants from the Office of Learning and Teaching. A significant development is that these grants are now "Category 1", giving them a higher academic status. One tip for getting a grant is to get together with colleagues in other parts of the university to apply for a more comprehensive project  and reduce the duplication of effort in grant preparation. These grants are for applied research which will make a difference to teaching students at university. Many from the physical science would not see the work funded under the OLT as "research" at all, but practice. One interesting point is that Australian Government owns any intellectual property developed under a grant, but then licenses it open access, usually under a Creative Commons license.

The priority areas for 2013 from the application instructions are:
  • Assessment and promotion of student learning
  • Curriculum design
  • Improving tertiary pathways
  • Improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s higher education access and outcomes
  • Innovative use of technology in learning and teaching
  • Internationalisation Research and development
  • Strategic approaches to learning and teaching which enhance student access and progression, and respond to student diversity
It would be interesting to see if a change of government results in revised proposals in 2014. As an example, the federal opposition has proposed a "new Colombo scheme and on-line education" which would see much greater involvement of Australia in regional education and require new skills for Australian educators.

What occurs to me is that some on-line technology could be sued to enhance the process of preparing grant proposals. This would use the same on-line technology I is now routinely used to design complex software and organize projects.

My own area of educational research interest is how to teach professional skills online. Since 2009 I have been teaching postgraduate students online for the ANU and the Australian Computer Society (which is a member of the Open University Australia). A significant proportion of students can cope with the technical content, but have difficulty with literacy.

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