Equity and Disability in Higher Education

In the past 2 or 3 decades universities in Australia (and elsewhere) have opened their doors to a wider variety of students than in the past. Universities are accountable to the government for their level of success in widening participation and making higher education more accessible. Research has shown that the widening participation agenda has resulted in many more non-traditional students being able to access a university education. The  number of women, Indigenous students, students from a low SES background, first-in-family to attend university, and students with a disability are equity groups whose numbers have grown, particularly in the last 10 years.

However, the equity group that we know least about is students with a disability. Many such students choose not to disclose their disability to their institution which makes it difficult to determine how many such students there are, and to provide assistance to this group. Continue reading

Teachers decry the marketisation of education

This post is a part of a series being written for my EDUC6352 online masters students.

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12 months ago I blogged about the Australian education policy context by providing an overview of the Melbourne Declaration. Today, The Age has published an anonymous piece by three teachers from Victoria who provide a scathing critique of the same context, and the education policies proposed by the opposition party in Victoria. In reference to the latter, they note that the:

draconian plans – which include installing police in our 10 most “high-risk” schools, abolishing the Safe Schools program, pumping up parochial Australian nationalism and stamping out celebration of diversity in the curriculum – are bound to have a devastating impact on the educational opportunities of our most disadvantaged and marginalised students.

For these teachers however, the half baked idea of putting police in disadvantaged schools does not represent the real problem. What they are really concerned about is the marketisation of education that’s been orchestrated by both the Labor and Liberal parties over the past ten years. Continue reading

Lazy Reblogging #3 Kids and digital footprint

I recently published this piece: ‘Post no photos, leave no trace: Children’s digital footprint management strategies‘ and my mother-in-law, (who runs a childcare centre) told me that it was a shame that this information is inaccessible for parents and teachers. With her in mind I wrote up the paper as a piece for The Conversation. Here it is, re-posted in all it’s glory.

Why children should be taught to build a positive online presence

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Rather than just teaching children about internet safety and reducing their digital footprint, we should also encourage them to curate a positive digital footprint which will be an asset for them in their future.

Today’s children are prolific users of the internet. Concern has been raised about the future impact of the digital footprints they are generating. While much discussion of this issue focuses on keeping children safe, little is known about how children manage their digital footprints.

While digital footprints are considered to be a liability, if managed well they can be an asset. Digital footprints can showcase identity, skills and interests. This is important in an era where employers “google” candidates to check their identity and verify their suitability. In this context, having no digital footprint can be as much of a disadvantage as having a poorly managed one.

The “Best Footprint Forward” project explored what children know about digital footprints. Focus groups were made up of 33 children aged 10-12 years from three schools in regional NSW. Analysis of the focus groups reveals children have strategies to keep safe online, but they need further guidance on how to build a positive digital footprint. Continue reading

If you’re not busy on Wed Dec 6th

come and join us at Newcastle for a discussion about EdTech.

We are searching for the middle ground. So much of the discussion regarding technology in education is either evangelical (technology will save us) or pessimistic (nothing will change). Often the educators most enthusiastic about technology are also the most critical. The DICE research group are hosting the EdTech Talkfest – a chance to confab about the contradictions, emotions, optimism and problems of the EdTech field.

If you’d like to come please email Erica Southgate ~ erica.southgate@newcastle.edu.au The EdTech Talkfest will take place on Wednesday 6th December, 2017 9:30 – 4pm, Room X803 NeW Space Building, University of Newcastle, cnr Hunter & Auckland Sts, Newcastle. The event is free but places are limited.

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Conferencing #RE4D

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Re-imagining Education for Democracy Summit. It was a wonderful event and an absolute pleasure to connect with passionate educators from all over Australia, each of whom was there because they felt that it is worth discussing how education can improve democracy in these turbulent times. Corinne Campbell has storified the #RE4D twitter feed if you’d like to retrospectively experience the conference.

With my paper: ‘Digital identity in a ‘post-truth’ world: the case for digital ethics‘ I talked through some ideas that I’ve been mulling over for a while. Continue reading

Examining the education policy context in Australia by looking closely at the Melbourne Declaration

This post is a part of a series being written for my EDUC6352 online masters students.

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One of the themes of policy in Australia (over the past 40 years or so) is the increasing influence of neoliberalism. This is particularly apparent in education, which has become increasingly marketised. Teachers’ work is increasingly subject to economic principles – made visible through the focus on accountability and standardisation; and performance pay which is perennially proffered as the a means of increasing teacher quality.

Nearly ten years after its signing, the 2008 Melbourne Declaration remains a useful case study which illustrates some of the ways that neoliberalism is manifest in Australian schooling. Continue reading

A belated update and some links of interest

So I arrived back at my home institution in early July, to the pleasant discovery that I’m featured in our faculty’s research showcase publication. Not that I’ve had much time for research since finishing sabbatical. As I’m coordinating a rather large foundational course this semester, my time has been spent organising the teaching for that. We have over 1100 students enrolled in the course (all of our first and second year early childhood, primary and secondary teaching students) and it is being delivered in a blend of face-to-face and online modes. Which means I’m coordinating a large teaching team to deliver tutorials (seminars to use the UK parlance) to 41 classes per week for the semester, organising the lectures and building the online content. And there’s been marking.

Being a blended course, I’m combining lectures; (yes, an old fashioned notion, I know, but it’s not without its defenders), with classroom discussions slated for the tutorials; and chunked resources that provide background information, and neat definitions, concept explainers, and contemporary perspectives (new stories, blog posts and the like) that link to the academic readings for the online components. This course is certainly stretching my teaching and admin skills and I’ve even starting using Adobe spark to make little videos (yep, even got my own youtube channel, something I never thought that I would have the guts to do) and memes for the LMS. Continue reading