Last week I attended the 2017 international conference of the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education (SITE) with support from the USQ Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts where I work in the School of Teacher Education and Early Childhood. I’m thankful for that support and for the patience of students in my classes who may have experienced oddly time-shifted responses to queries resulting from the time zone differences and long haul flights.
With my retirement locked in for 31 December this year and accumulated leave to be taken from early July (77 working days to go) I anticipate that this will be my last visit to SITE and likely my last conference in any working capacity. I’ve attended SITE each year since 1998 (20 times). It has been my core professional community and a major benefit in my work as an academic. Whether I would have the motivation and fortitude to attend a conference beyond my years of paid employment remains to be seen but I’m doubtful.
Those of us involved with developing and teaching courses hear a lot about the desirability of consistency which sometimes seems to be interpreted as just short of uniformity. Historically that is based on student responses to a survey conducted a few years ago which was interpreted as students wanting to see the same features in the same locations in different courses. An alternative interpretation of the data I saw might be that students wanted more consistency in the availability of staff in courses. At times it has seemed as though having courses appear too similar has confused students about where they are leading to questions being directed to the wrong staff. Nevertheless, there is probably value in looking for consistency at a high level such as exists among different web browsers or word processors in respect of essential features.
It’s late January. I started writing this earlier in the month, soon after I was back in my office and thinking about first semester courses. After a couple of years working with the most recent iteration of assessment in EDP4130, a project-based design challenge, it was time to consider a change. In 2015 and 2016 students created teaching resources for the two Australian Curriculum: Technologies subjects, Design and Technologies and Digital Technologies. With more than 150 students each year that’s in excess of 500 teaching resources, many of which were very good quality. Having so many examples from past years out there means that there may be as many as are needed, it will be more difficult for students in 2017 to innovate in those areas, and it may be tempting for some to ‘borrow’ work that has been done in previous years. (more…)