HERDSA 2013 Wednesday July 3

3 Jul

9am Keynote Upside Down and Inside Out.  The Future of the University as a Design Problem   

Ann Pendleton-Julian

The introduction of this keynote was particularly engaging: the example of architectural design of the Asian University for Women in Bangladesh, which she was involved in several years ago. I liked the analogy of the ecosystem for design – the idea that it is indivisible but also needs to build resilience to instability and disturbance into the system to be successful.

The campus was in a valley so the design needed to be inverted to fulfill the diverse needs and to protect the women attending. Full use was made of the environment: the dorms were in the center in the valley, the hills surrounding it were faculty buildings or homes of academics and followed the topography.  The landscape became the determinants.  There was also pragmatic use of water – it was harnessed to create a place of community in the centre. Friday is the day women come together to wash their hair and celebrate their womanhood so the pools were not just for beauty but also a place for socialising and networking.

The women were from diverse backgrounds, religions and even currently at war.  Just because they were all women did not automatically mean they would all get on.  The dorms were designed to encourage small groups but also flexible enough to allow friendships and networks to develop with close by dorm arrangements – like a chain.

Kitchen facilities were shared so this idea of cooking and sharing food together was used to facilitate the raising of awareness of each others’ cultures and how fundamental prejudices start in the mind, the home, the kitchen and can be changed with appropriate intercultural activities.

This Bangladesh example led onto university design:

the need to find aggregates in the system and dynamic attractors.  To look for and find interconnections, to make it a place where participation is enabled and to create a coherent ‘world’. The new design is inside out: the core becomes the resource of learning and the outside is the digitally augmented platforms.  Not digital itself but what digital enables and this meant thinking about issues of access, identity shifts and the creation of a network of global intimacies.

Then she explained 4 models created by students who were first presented with the idea that there is no absolutes.  These were complicated and too difficult to understand and take notes for so at this stage I just listened!

11am Thriving Room: exploring where, why and how international students thrive.      Stephanie Amborosi University of South Australia

The students’ definitions of ‘thrive’ were interesting: feeling happy and active, able to flourish in the present circumstance, doing better than surviving and the opposite of struggling.

She used a circular mode to show the layers of importance:

From inside to outside with the last layer interlinking with the core (imagine 3D)

personal attributes – coping mechanisms, personality

Social support: friends in host culture, keeping in touch with family, healthy interaction with staff, neighbours etc

Uni environment: able to seek services

Environment: ss find their own niches

being comfortable in new culture not just buildings, climate etc

Successful students used different places for study – library, computer pools, local cafes because they were quieter, parks because they liked the space or exercised, socialising spaces in dorms with kitchen, food eating space, IT and table tennis – the drawback being there was no investigation of the rest of campus because they formed a social clique.

Also acknowledged was the influences from home: previous education, religion, IT ability, social networking and cultural mores.  AND the pre- arrival expectations – racism, understanding that the first few months would be difficult, having a general understanding of international student needs ie being prepared!  The strategies were outlined below:


 When asked about advice from students she gave the following examples:  ss wanted more peer support networks, smaller tutorials 8-10 so they can understand accents better and terminology but not isolating Internationals into these tutorials!

1130am Educational practice that benefits Pacific learners in tertiary education.      Cherie Chu


(last 40 years of deficit learning and reporting)

Kakala research framework- PI ‘lei’ metaphor- putting theory into practice

+ appreciative inquiry – what works and life giving forces or goodness – looking from a different angle

data gathering – research tool – inteviews more ‘Talanoa’ –like (sharing conversations to lower barriers

Key findings and recommendations

·                Appreciative pedagogy:  Strength was important for success – appreciation of skill and academic needs understood by family and complimented by lecturers
·                Teaching and learning: relationships- lecturers say your name properly identity, high expectations in informal situations by lecturers, conducting lectures in small spaces, flat room indicates equal relationships and power structure, access to tutor,  teachers engaging cultural values with examples or language inside a lecture, committed educators – academics AND support,
·                Institutional commitment -active engagement with support from communities and churches – moving from geographical boundaries into a church hall e.g.,   strategies are not hidden in LMS but actively illustrated, having a PI center within the campus, a specific ‘aunty’        

·                What to do with the students who are failing?
·                In the interview – be passionate about your care:
·                 find out why are they here?
·                What works for them?
·                Who is supporting them?
·                focus on where to next rather than failing the course             


12 HERDSA Plenary session Presidents’s address

Within our own curriculum are we/acadmeics Holistic in our educator roles and approach

We are the game changers so are we encouraging global citizenship, critical thinking, social transformation


Gvt and other institutions are defining what a successful academic is, currently it is RESEARCH outputs.  This is driven by the economic model cf exceptional lecturer and leader in team or faculty (T&L is old model!).

145 Keynote Evolving Learning Space Designs: QUT’s journey through space and time

Dr Geoff Mitchell

First there was a video promotion from Queensland University of  Science & Technology

What makes it a good learning space?

sharing content is easy with hubs for ss with CAL data show so lecturer can send data from main screen to groups

using research studios with transparent windows so from the corridor you can see in and watch ‘live’ research -to engage communities

lots of collaborative ‘neighbourhood’ spaces to encourage cross disciplinary research -created a social hub in the center of each floor

sustainable building practices – solar panels, water collectors for storage or removal

a little bit different- 5 mill cube of interactive computer screen like an aquarium with pockets of old style couch and lamp settings for social interaction on the outside

designed to inspire ss to study science- uncool at the moment with Australian teenagers

developed a learning space like a research programme:

start with an unknown, have a basis in a cumulative tradition, respond to the evidence available, be subject to self and peer review, seek to make a contribution to the the field and stand on the shoulders of previous designs

5 steps:

1. a) all central spaces needed technology- but to create spaces which are more collaborative, booth like, (ss did not use them the way that were intended -FB, txt etc after they watched the space to see how it was being used.)

2.)  Student designed spaces- library spaces with e-book hubs  Ss rearranged furniture  and electrical sockets were not always in the right places.  Idea of a space for play, ss control the space and you get a good outcome for behaviour.  By slow camera sped up they could see when and where collaborative work was occurring.  Ss think on whiteboards but use the computers to deliver so spaces need to evolve.

3.) Refurbished Spaces

Used different colours for furniture to stimulate, and changed things every week, then asked what really makes a difference: SEATS if you have to sit for several hours, TOILETS.

ss wanted an ambient temperature not too hot or cold, needed to feel safe, needed easy access to food, drink and good toilets addressed before learning took place.

Colour of chairs made no difference and if they were all the same colour, the seats didn’t move from room to room or ss put them back because of the colour clash. Shape of table made no difference except inability to move furniture was a problem.  Plastic trees were used for monitoring without distraction and the whimsiness of their design encouraged play and engagement.

Reused existing materials: eg old e-books were converted into an installation with spines to create patterns.  This was a beautiful art piece over the stairs.

Public corridors became powerful spaces to do things and valuable because they operated as opportunities for doing other things. They created wide corridors as a result.

Rows in a lecture theater are not a problem if they are using IT to engage so how lecture rooms are used was more important.

20% of academics liked the didactic approach being changed to no podium and wander around with your ipad to change content presentation.  Most did not like it. The lecture theater usage was more important rather than changing the ‘sage on the stage’.

4.  Mixed use spaces was critical to success.  Everywhere is a learning space – corridors!   A mix is important.

5. Experimental spaces

Used a space before design to figure out what was not working, and got feedback once a week from academics and ss.  Continued with spaces across campus to determine needs: engineering lab – need for rollers resolved a challenge of inflexibility of academics’ assumptions.


Learn to ask what if rather than worry about why not.

Start with lofty ambitions rather than a finished vision, dream big and focus on the prize. Accept what we don’t have all the answers but each step improves both our understanding and the quality of outcomes.

Approcah problems with genuine concern for others’ perspectives.

Develop strategic partnerships that deliver results, start small and build trust and engage with everyone at every opportunity.

(Make the evolution…)

Chaos rules, non-linearity, unpredictability and messiness need to be encouraged.

Your role is to help the innovators learn from it.  Failure is an option and learn from mistakes..

To truly innovate you have to leave behind what works or give it up.

Sometimes you have to ignore the career dissipation light?

Facilitating first year student transitions through student mentoring -230pm

Katrina Zammit  Margaret Vickers  Uni of Western Sydney

Background: 56% of ss have another language and 80% casualisation and large numbers of students are the first in their family,

Unistep Academic Skills Guide was online but not all could understand it.

Not all ss learn in a digitized decontexturalised environment!

Many ss were surprised that community building and networking were so powerful and that the focus changed from marks to learning.

Equity Buddies Support Network with credit bearing unit -4 credits – lectures, tutorials debriefing groups and +40 hours of service learning  – second and third year ss mentored first year and it worked best when all were enrolled at the same time.

Mentor-mentee meetings are about 1 hour a week, preparation and bring in social services.

Facilitators meet academics and mentors liaise with them.

Debriefing hours count towards hours of service.


They all improved their own literacy, understanding of resources and services available,

With mentors: cross cultural understanding improved , reason for coming to University increased, learned more about themselves, great social connection for both and conversations became not just limited to academic life, collective learning provided opportunities for partnerships and networking, dispelled negative feelings, assisted with time management, improved confidence, support for academic literacy and enabled possibility for asking for extensions.

Pedagogical and cultural leaders have emerged from the programme. Racism is turned on its head if (first year) Australians are learning from refugees.


current cohort – 111 but not all can take it as a course.


Not all first years can be contacted, it is a course with no elective, commitment of university to fund facilitators who run the mentors is critical

If first years take this course they must take another course to move from mentee to mentor within the education faculty.










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