Adios AUC for Another Year or So


The excesses of the Conference Dinner still fresh in mind, Day 3 began. After 2+ days of concentration, far too much coffee and eyes that started to pack it in from starting at screens small and large, keeping up with the sessions let alone blogging proved something of a strain. As I noted a day or so back, this would be a test of my resolve.

Today’s sessions took the themes of Web 2.0 and Digital Natives further, although we started with Nick Tait, UQ Director of ITS among other impressive things. Nick spoke at length and wittily on the development of AAF (Australian Access Federation). AAF will ensure cross-institutional certification of its members in an effort to enable trustworthy collaboration on research, learning, and teaching. Nick introduced the notion of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ trust as a plank to the successful creation and operation of AAF. ‘Hard’ trust is the sort based on contracts; ‘soft’ on what used to be covered by the underpinning principles of ‘collegiality’ … at least that’s how I understood it. It was a bit blokey … you get to know other Directors of ITs at a bar and learn to trust them etc. ….that kind of stuff. AAF is intended to form part of a wider network of global access organisations, opening up the kind of collaborative effort in research that, up to now, we have only dreamed about.

I enjoyed Colin Warren’s (Deakin U) stream session on the way Deakin is engaging with social software in the learning and teaching domains. Colin dealt with Web 2.0 apps, and the idea of genial and well-meaning subversion by academics of the organisation’s CMSs to open up the sort of creative use of these thousands of apps and services that I’d mentioned in my session. Good to hear colleagues talk about their challenges and successes, and to feel that there is a real groundswell of creativity and collaboration at work in Higher Ed learning and teaching. Subversion, eh?

The final keynote and in fact, presentation of the conference was from Carl Berger (Emeritus Professor from Michigan U) who took a statistician’s razor to the idea of the Digital Native in ‘The Digital Student and the Milennial Instructor.’ Carl is a quick-witted, very sharp academic, and a very, very good presenter. I didn’t think I could be as fascinated as I was by statistics … but there I was, like everyone around me, lapping it up as he raced through the results of a huge survey designed to provide an identikit of these two species in the academic community. The findings can be tracked down at UM’s CARAT.

But Carl saved the best to last with the introduction of a new online, peer-reviewed journal Academic Intersections. Here’s what it’s about;

Academic Intersections is an online peer-reviewed journal publishing accounts of research or creative works that embrace multimedia as a fundamental aspect of higher education in the 21st century.

Goody! I like the peer-review part and the obvious benefits online publishing has for academics. You can find out all about Academic Intersections and much, much more on ALI, the good-looking Apple Learning Interchange site. ALI is yet another social network … this time for educators. You will need to join ALI to play with everyone. Guess who’s got an RSS pointing to that site already.

But back to the conference … it was a wrap just before 12.30 with the final, obligatory barbecue lunch by the pool … yes, in the glorious Queensland spring sunshine. Ah, what a time that was, my friends. I hope AUC manage to keep this very important conference going. It’s the premier gathering for a whole range of Apple user, higher ed types: academics, techies, developers … and yes, those pesky Gen-Y Digital Native students, god bless ’em. The kind of collaboration and networking AUC provides over an intensive 3 days is germane to the continuing development of milennial instructors and their older colleagues like me. It was a fine time AUC. Thanks!

PS Yes, many actually did dress for the Conference dinner in appalling 60s-70s fashion. It was ABBA just about all night, and it was wonderful.


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